8

10

Model

LP 610-4

Price

$428,000

The Numbers

5.2-litre, V10, 449kW, 560Nm, 7sp dual clutch, 0-100km/h 3.2secs, 12.5L/100km

The Topgear Verdict

A sensational supercar, built to impress, dynamically and visually, which delivers in spades, on both counts.

2014 Lamborghini Huracan LP-610-4

So, what is it?

The Huracán is a 1.4 tonne wedge of attention demanding, Italian sex on wheels, which at full noise, sounds like the seven gates of hell opening simultaneously.

Named after a famous Spanish fighting bull from the late 1800s, it’s Lamborghini’s stunning new ‘junior’ supercar, succeeding the long-serving Gallardo, powered by an upgraded (449kW/560Nm) version of its predecessor’s 5.2-litre, naturally-aspirated V10 engine.

The V10 is mid-mounted longitudinally (as in the Gallardo), hence the LP in the car’s name, for ‘longitudinale posteriore’, with power going through a seven-speed dual clutch ‘box, to all four wheels.

Its chassis is an exotic, lightweight hybrid of aluminium and carbon fibre, while it’s skinned in a combination of alloy and composite materials. Despite that, it’s a tad (12kg) heavier than the Gallardo.

Why should I care?

This Italian stallion is claimed to blast from 0-100km/h in 3.2secs, 0-200km/h in 9.9secs, and on to a staggering 325km/h top speed!

It’s also a critical model for the famous Italian maker. Lamborghini chief, Stephan Winkelmann saying, “It is the most important car in our history”, not least because it has massive shoes to fill.

Lamborghini was acquired by VW Group (via Audi) in 1998, and the success of the Gallardo (launched in 2003) took the company from financial basket case to supercar powerhouse.

More than 14,000 Gallardos were sold, until the last example rolled off the Sant’Agata production line at the end of last year. A phenomenal number for a car of this type, representing close to half of all Lamborghinis sold in the company’s 50-year history.

What's new about it?

Unmistakeably related to its immediate forebear, the Huracán’s is also, obviously influenced by Lamborghini’s current, angular design language, evident in big brother Aventador, as well as more extreme, low volume models like the stealthy Sesto Elemento, and radical Veneno.

Lamborghini’s head of design, Filippo Perini admits he and his team “love a hexagon”, and that six-sided shape is used in major sections, as well as detail elements all over the car.

At just under 4.5 metres long, 1.9m wide, and a whisker under 1.2m high, the Huracán has a classically dramatic supercar stance, with a 21st century twist; bigger in every key dimension that the Gallardo it replaces.

It’s also smoother, with a 3.0 per cent improvement in aerodynamic efficiency, without the need to use any moving aero elements.

The V10 now features a combination of direct and multi-point injection (al la VW Golf GTI and Toyobaru 86/BRZ), with a seamless transition between systems optimising performance and efficiency.

The AWD system is now electronically-controlled, with a driving dynamics system switchable via a steering wheel control through three modes – Strada (road), Sport, and Corsa (race).

Called ANIMA, the system (Adaptive Network Intelligent Management; and Italian for soul) modifies gearbox change points, engine settings, exhaust sound, AWD set-up, and the electronic stability control. Steering is electro-mechanically assisted.

One of the most significant mechanical changes, is the move from the previous (literally, neck-snapping) E-Gear, automated manual transmission, to a new version of its Audi R8 cousin’s twin clutch ‘box, called LDF (Lamborghini Doppia Frizione).

Carbon-ceramic brakes are standard, while an electronically controlled, ‘Lamborghini Dynamic Steering’ system, and ‘Magneto-Rheologic’ active suspension, using magnetically-controlled shock absorbers, are optionally available.

That's all fine. What's it like to drive fast?

First acquaintance with the Huracán was at the 5.4km Ascari ‘Racing Resort’ near Marbella in southern Spain, followed by a sweeping, open road drive along the surrounding coastline to round out the picture. And there’s no doubting it’s a sensational machine.

Let’s get it out of the way up front, Yes, the engine is epic. Retaining the Gallardo’s characteristic 10 cylinder howl, with a more bass baritone timbre at low revs, it’s an atmo dream.

Fully extend your right foot though, and on the way up to the 8,000 rpm rev ceiling, it sounds like a pack of savage tigers is in the engine bay is doing its best to rip the car apart.

Throttle response is near instant, and acceleration is face-smearing, while Lamborghini has nailed the LDF dual clutch gearbox, with eye-blink fast shifts, via beautiful (metal) wheel-mounted paddles, that aren’t very flappy at all.

The aluminium double wishbone suspension (front and rear) and 20 inch rims wrapped with Pirelli P Zero Z-rated rubber (245/30 f / 305/30 r) combine to deliver sensational grip, and body control is good, although the initial impression is the arch enemy, Ferrari 458 Italia holds an edge in this department.

Front to rear balance is 42/58, Lamborghini claims the Huracán is 50 per cent torsionally stiffer than the Gallardo, and the car feels taut and agile, although the Gallardo wasn’t exactly slack in that regard.

You can feel the electronic AWD system working hard on the circuit, shifting from the standard 70/30, rear to front drive percentage, to 100/0, or up to a maximum 50/50 if required, getting the car’s prodigious power down with ruthless efficiency.

Standard steering is electromechanically assisted, with a ratio of 16.2:1, but our test car was fitted with the optional LDS (Lamborghini Dynamic Steering) which can vary the ratio by almost 100 percent (9:1 – 17:1).

In city traffic, the LDS is direct, and less so at high speeds to help with direction change stability. At the limit of adhesion it’s claimed to minimise understeer, as well as oversteer during load transfer, by delivering tiny, targeted impulses of opposite lock.

The seating position and ergonomics are brilliant, and the big carbon-ceramic brakes will have your chin instantly hitting your chest when full stopping power’s required. Progressive and utterly fade-free even after many stops on the circuit from 250km/h-plus, they are amazing.

And driving from home to the office in the city?

Off track, in a more sedate driving mode, Lamborghini’s attention to design and ergonomic detail is obvious. The interior is suitably dramatic, taking its cues from the jet fighter end of the aeronautics spectrum, primarily trimmed in supremely supple Nappa leather, with a choice of smooth leather or racier suede steering wheel, as well as tricky, multi-mode electronic instruments.

Slip the ANIMA system into Strada mode via the simple steering wheel mounted switch, and with 70 per cent of maximum torque available from just 1,000rpm, the car is tractable, relaxed and comfortable in the urban grind.

A user-friendly highlight is the instrument binnacle, housing a 12.3 inch TFT (thin film transistor) instrument panel, switchable through three display screens – ‘Full Drive’ mode (large, central rev counter flanked by displays for fuel level and water temp, with a digital speed read-out), ‘Mixed’ mode (small rev counter on left, with a window for infotainment functions, including nav, on the right, and ‘Full Navi’ (map fills most of the monitor).

How much would I have to pay for one? And is it worth the coin?

Lamborghini’s quoting a pre-tax price of $428K. But we believe that's actually the figure before on-road costs are added, and the drive-away price is $465,000.

That’s a modest jump up from the outgoing Gallardo LP560-4 at $455,000, and significantly less than Ferrari's 458 Italia at $525k. But it makes Porsche’s 911 Turbo look like a bargain at $389K.

Is there anything bad about it?

The steering provides good road feel, but it’s not in the same league as a Porsche 911 or Ferrari 458. On the open road, shifting from Strada to Sport mode, increases weight, but not feel.

Also, parking assist with front and rear sensors is standard, but you have to pay extra for a rear camera, which is unfortunate in a car with such radical proportions.

And while on the subject, the standard engine cover consists of three large, matt black polymer fins, inspired by the classic Miura, but a clear cover with a carbon fibre fit-out for the engine bay is optional.

Would you take a Huracán or a Ferrari 458 Italia?

That’s like asking a bloke to choose between Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone. These are the ‘Look at Me’ Hollywood glamourzons of the car world. But like those red hot actors, there’s substance behind their paparazzi smiles.

The Ferrari is sharp in every response, yet composed and comfortable as an everyday driver. The Lambo has a brawnier character, and arguably, makes a bigger visual statement.

The 458 takes it by a nose on dynamic ability, with the Huracán edging out the Faz on design detail and overall drama.

Driven: May 03, 2014