Success can be a huge obstacle. Take, for example, the case of the most successful model in the 50-year history of one of the world's most successful exotic car manufacturers. That car, the Lamborghini Gallardo, was retired last year after 14,022 examples made their way into the hands of various souls during a decade-long production run.
While this is not a huge number in the car business, it's a big percentage of sales for a brand that sells approximately 2,100 cars per year. This is why the launch of the 2015 Lamborghini Huracán, the Gallardo's successor, comes prepackaged with great expectations and more than a little nervousness on the part of the Lamborghini brain trust.
"It's always dangerous to try to improve an iconic design," said Filippo Perini, head of design, during the launch event at Ascari Race Resort, a country club racetrack 70 kilometres north of Marbella, Spain. Despite his trepidation, his team has succeeded by returning its "entry-level" vehicle to a more subdued look.
The Huracán possesses a powerfully simple shape and it's a sharp contrast to the brand's other super-sports car, the otherworldly Aventador. More importantly, the Huracán is a more engaging, more challenging and, ultimately, higher-performing super-sports car than the Gallardo.
Around the Nardo test track in southern Italy, the new car is reportedly two seconds per lap faster than the fastest version of the Gallardo, the LP 570-4 Super Trofeo Stradale. This is impressive because the Huracán we tested on-track in Spain, the LP 610-4, is just the launch version and faster iterations are in development.
Simple math yields one reason why the Huracán is a quicker starting point; 610 minus 570 equals 40 – this is how much more horsepower the 5.2-litre V-10 engine produces. This thinly disguised rocket ship can power to 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds, two-tenths faster than the quickest Gallardo.
There are other reasons for the improvement in lap time: specifically, the chassis of the Huracán is lighter yet stronger. More specifically, the new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission represents a big gain over the e-gear semi-automatic transmission used previously. (Gone are the days when gearshifts would be accompanied by the feeling of getting punched in the solar plexus.)
On track, the Lamborghini is endlessly entertaining. The V-10 not only produces more horsepower, it also generates more useable torque at low speeds, which sends the car hurtling out of the slower bends. The all-wheel drive system serves to put this power to the ground effectively, but the Huracán demands a patient right foot – anything less serves to lift the nose and send the car skating (understeering) towards the edge of oblivion.
In these high-speed circumstances, the limiting factor preventing ultimate performance is not the car itself – its capabilities are stratospheric. Rather, the guilty party will be the less-than-heroic driver.
You'll like this car if:
- You have money to burn, but not enough patience to wait for that back-ordered Ferrari 458 Italia.
- You want a super-sports car that will put your driving skills to the test.
- You had a poster of a Countach on your wall as a kid and you yearn for something just as cool, faster and far more understated.
Type: Super-sports car
Base price: $260,990
Engine: 5.2-litre V-10
Horsepower/torque: 610 hp/413 lb-ft
Transmission/drive: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic/all-wheel drive
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 12.5 litres/100 km (Euro cycle; combined driving)
Alternatives: Ferrari 458 Italia, Nissan GT-R Nismo, Porsche 911 Turbo S
The car is stunning – arguably the best-looking Lamborghini since the Miura.
Inspired by the Aventador, the cockpit is high-tech, ergonomically friendly and downright cool.
A better car than the Gallardo it replaces in every respect.
Despite all-wheel drive and driver aids, the car is far too fast for the average driver.
The new engine produces 11 per cent fewer CO2 emissions – but it's not exactly green.
This is an unabashed object of desire with genuine hard-core performance credentials.
The writer was a guest of the auto maker
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