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Across Spain in the new Lambo Huracan

  1. Britain’s special forces earn their spurs, it’s said, by being abandoned on some blasted Scottish heath armed only with their underpants. If they manage to fashion a weatherproof garment out of thistle and subsist on the right berries for three days, they’re in.

    Granted, arriving by Ryanair isn’t the ideal jumping-off point and we’re fully dressed, but still, we have a suitably punchy mission statement: deliver the new Lamborghini Huracán to Europe’s highest paved road, shoot and return, all within the space of 20 hours. Veleta, our target, lies in the middle of the squiggliest of contour lines on the map, deep in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Pico del Veleta is just shy of 11,150 feet, although the access road stops some way short of that. That’s high. Our route will speed us on the motorway through some spectacular sun-bleached vistas, before turning seriously twisty and oxygen-thin. No one outside Sant’Agata will have driven the car further or harder.

    Pictures: Jamie Lipman

    This article was originally published in the June 2014 issue of Top Gear magazine

  2. What is Huracán? A Mayan god of wind, storm and fire, but also a late 19th-century fighting bull from Alicante. For Lamborghini, it’s more about the wind of change than an aggrieved Central American deity or sanguinary sport - the Huracán has an all-new chassis, a new electronic nervous system, a new 7spd dual-clutch ‘box and a heavily revised version of its rather excellent 5.2-litre V10. Why so important? Because this car fills the gaping void left by the Gallardo, Lambo’s 14,000-plus best-seller this past decade and principal profit centre.

  3. Under cover of morning darkness, the Huracán looks stunning. More considered than we might have expected, after the progressively more outré Reventón, Aventador, Sesto Elemento, Veneno and Egoista, but the snarky online sniping that greeted it is still way off-beam. Trust me: in the flesh, the Huracán sizzles in all the right places. Our car’s violent green colour, Verde Mantis, intensifies the surface nuances a more Germanic shade would underplay, and the way the son-of-Aventador front end mutates into a sharper line by the time your eye lands on the rear air intake is genius. My personal highlight is the reverse rake and chamfered edge on the integrated rear spoiler. Hats off, then, to Lamborghini’s design director, Filippo Perini, the only car designer I know who references post-modern pop barmpot Grace Jones while deconstructing his visual philosophy.

  4. The Huracán’s doors are disappointingly normal, but configuring the clever new ‘virtual cockpit’ TFT instrument display in the dark at 6am on a Sunday morning makes up for it. Rather than a central screen, everything lives on the main display behind the steering wheel, itself now festooned with buttons. You can flick between a huge rev-counter, your preferred music, the satnav, or a mix and match. (The same system lands imminently in the next-gen Audi TT, but gets Lambo-specific graphics here.)

  5. A central bridge houses a row of rocker switches and auxiliary gauges, aircon, MMI controller and audio. Beneath that, under a militaristic red flip-up cover, sits the start button. There’s no gearlever; reverse is engaged by a button cresting an eye-catching anodised protrusion, with P and M below it, and an electronic parking brake behind. It’s theatrical, dramatic, laden with fighter jet-inspired functionality. If only it could serve up a double espresso.

  6. It doesn’t take long on the move to confirm that the Huracán is reining in Lambo’s bad-boy shtick. A 603bhp V10 is one way to fill the caffeine hole, but until I can shake off my fuzzy head, I’m content to let the Huracán contain itself. That it can do so with startling effectiveness determines how well you’re likely to get on with this car as a whole.

  7. What do you notice? The ride is incredibly composed, isolating bumps and thumps and staving off nasty surface irregularities, even on 20in wheels. The narrow daylight openings (or windows, if you prefer) mean that the view out is fine. At a motorway lick, the soundtrack is an oddly anodyne mix of valve train and chain drive whirr, a white noise that’s redolent of a huge washing machine. It sounds busy not ballsy.

  8. More mental notes. What, exactly, is Lamborghini hoping to achieve with this car? There were smallish Lambos long before the Gallardo revolutionised the brand’s appeal and scope - the Urraco and Jalpa - but the scary supercar game is up. It’s all about user-friendliness and accessibility these days. The Ferrari 458 Italia and McLaren 650S are conceptually the closest rivals: the former, one of Ferrari’s greatest-ever achievements; the latter, a substantial move in the right direction after some fumbling. Porsche’s 911 Turbo S lays waste to everything, and the next Audi R8 - which will use the same architecture as the Huracán - is lurking in the wings. Which way would you go?

  9. The Huracán’s chassis is a different sort of hybrid to the sort we usually read about. Carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) is used in the passenger cell, forming part of the floor, the sills, central tunnel, rear bulkhead and B-pillars. Lamborghini has long extolled the virtues of resin transfer moulding (RTM) to create these parts, with safety, structural and weight benefits. As a result, the chassis weighs 200kg - the car is 1,532kg all-up - and torsional rigidity is 50 per cent better than the Gallardo managed. The front and rear subframes are aluminium, with double wishbones on all four corners, made of forged aluminium. There are electronic dampers and anti-roll bars. Magnetic ride is an option, as is active steering. The Huracán is clever and civilised, on a par in the tech arms race that, more than ever, defines the sector. Now the search is on for its personality.

  10. This might sound a bit daft for a 603bhp mid-engined Italian supercar extrovert whose main job is to blow your socks off from 100ft away, but it only truly comes alive when you really start pushing it. Peeling off the motorway for an epic sunrise photo, I chance upon the sort of road you could spend your whole life looking for. The Huracán, it turns out, has almost fathomless depths, a holy trinity of engine, ‘box and chassis.

  11. Open the taps, and there’s no more white noise from the 5.2-litre V10. Now, we’ve got the full Pantone spectrum. It’s also naturally aspirated, so there’s beautifully metered throttle response and an irresistible sense of free-breathing forward momentum. The engine feels like a power unit in the purest sense, a prime example of semi-industrial hardware that somehow conjures music out of its forged pistons, connecting rods and aluminium-silicon crank. A dual-injection system - one operates at low revs, the other under bigger throttle loads - and a new two-channel exhaust with naughty flaps takes you through a range of sonic possibilities. Between 4,000 and 8,500rpm, it’s angrier than a battle scene in Game of Thrones.

  12. The Huracán definitely does have a character. Defining it is less straightforward. This is taking longer than I expected. Tellingly, Lambo lets you play with the car’s personality using a button on the wheel it calls Anima (Italian for ‘soul’). It networks the throttle mapping, stability control, dampers, transmission and torque flow (it’s 30/70 front to rear as standard, but can go 100 per cent to the rear), spreading the dynamic repertoire across Strada, Sport and Corsa options. It’s well calibrated, too, and the Huracán feels much better resolved than the Aventador.

  13. We’re in Sport mode as Granada recedes in the mirrors, and we begin the 25-mile ascent to Veleta. Four-wheeled traffic is light, but this is a popular destination with cyclists - in a list of the world’s toughest climbs, it’s ranked 16th, one behind a route in the Himalayas. There are sharp second-gear hairpins, but the road opens out into a series of flowing, higher-speed sweepers, with perfect sight lines. It means that we can co-exist with our masochistic friends.

  14. The Huracán warps from corner to corner in a way that seems to defy time itself. Key to this is its Lamborghini Doppia Frizione seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which is vastly smoother than the Gallardo’s uncouth e-gear system, while still giving you some sense of the furious kinetic forces at work. The carbon-ceramic brakes are also superb, combining awesome retardation with the perfect amount of pedal feel - not something that everyone manages. Our world has recently been redefined by Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche, but objectively speaking it’s difficult to imagine needing - or wanting - more than this.

  15. The Huracán uses aviation-tech accelerometers and gyros in its chassis’ electronics armoury, and its balance - the interplay between suspension, steering and brakes - is so impressive that its limits (on a bone-dry mountain pass, at least) are beyond reach. Clichéd or not, the Huracán might be too good. After half a dozen photography runs, I wish it would… lighten up a bit. Let itself go.

  16. Then I realise what this car reminds me of. It’s not the 458 or 650S. It’s the Bugatti Veyron, and the more earthbound but still astonishing Nissan GT-R. Both are engineering milestones, machines of uncommon quality, ability and inspiration. But they’re machines. As with human beings, great cars are often defined as much by their flaws as the things they’re masterful at. That’s practically been Lamborghini’s USP this past 50 years. The Huracán, it’s worth remembering, is the first volley in a whole series of derivatives, and on this basis the Superleggera will be absolutely mighty. Right now, this is unequivocally the best car Lamborghini has ever made. But I’m not sure it’s the best Lamborghini.

  17. Lamborghini Huracán

    Price: £188,000
    Engine: 5204cc V10, 603bhp @ 8250rpm, 413lb ft @ 6500rpm
    Performance: 0-62mph in 3.2secs, 203mph top speed
    Transmission: 7spd LDF DCT, AWD
    Economy: 22.6mpg 290g/km CO2
    Weight: 1532kg

  18. Lamborghini Huracán

    Price: £188,000 
    Engine: 5204cc V10, 603bhp @ 8250rpm, 413lb ft @ 6500rpm
    Performance: 0-62mph in 3.2secs, 203mph top speed
    Transmission: 7spd LDF DCT, AWD
    Economy: 22.6mpg 290g/km CO2
    Weight: 1532kg

  19. Lamborghini Huracán

    Price: £188,000 
    Engine: 5204cc V10, 603bhp @ 8250rpm, 413lb ft @ 6500rpm
    Performance: 0-62mph in 3.2secs, 203mph top speed
    Transmission: 7spd LDF DCT, AWD
    Economy: 22.6mpg 290g/km CO2
    Weight: 1532kg

  20. Lamborghini Huracán

    Price: £188,000 
    Engine: 5204cc V10, 603bhp @ 8250rpm, 413lb ft @ 6500rpm
    Performance: 0-62mph in 3.2secs, 203mph top speed
    Transmission: 7spd LDF DCT, AWD
    Economy: 22.6mpg 290g/km CO2
    Weight: 1532kg

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