Road Tests

First Drive: Huracan EVO (2019) is still about the driver

There has never, ever been a boring Lamborghini, but the original Huracán was arguably just too competent for its own good. In the realm of the super sports car, this might sound like heresy but somewhere in the matrix between its all-wheel drive, inert steering and admittedly wondrous 5.2-litre V10, it could feel a bit, well, Matrixy. Synthetic.

Cars like these always find extra levels during their lifespan and sure enough the rear-drive Huracan and most significantly the Performante ramped things right up. Which probably explains why the latter is the jumping off point for the Huracan Evo, a logical move (if a little bit galling for anyone still waiting to take delivery of their Performante) as Lamborghini’s biggest seller – more than 10,000 sold – squares up to its Ferrari and McLaren foes.

Four key pillars have been identified: vehicle dynamics, the engine, design and aerodynamics, and interior HMI. So that nat asp V10 now produces 470kW at 8,000rpm, 600Nm of torque at 6,500rpm, for a power-to-weight ratio of 336kW per tonne, good for a top speed of 323kph, and zero to 100kph in 2.9 seconds.

Lamborghini claims seven times the aero efficiency of the outgoing car, thanks to a new front spoiler, diffuser and air curtain, new rear diffuser, cleaner underbody, repositioned exhaust (now with titanium intake valves), and ducktail spoiler.

But focusing on that stuff is missing the bigger picture; the Huracan Evo represents a philosophical step-change for the Italians by introducing Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Integrata (LDVI), a central super computer that corrals everything the Evo’s chassis and powertrain has got while adding a predictive element, “redefining the segment parameters, while delivering the most responsive, sensory and agile driving experience,” according to the boss, Stefano Domenicali. (A man who claims to be a “super, super average driver” coincidentally, another reason why the Huracan Evo is meant to be as accessible as it is thrilling.)

The question is, has Lamborghini put HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey in charge, or has it figured out how to boss the software? ‘I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t let you have your cake and eat it…’ Yikes.

First, a caveat. All driving impressions were gathered at the Bahrain International Circuit; we’ll have to wait a bit before we get the Huracán Evo on the road. The up side is that this is one of Hermann Tilke’s more satisfying ‘new’ circuits, with some very high speed sections, elevation changes, and corners that hurt anything that can’t manage weight transfer effectively.

So how does the LDVI work? Well, in addition to HAL there’s a set of accelerators and gyroscope sensors positioned at the heart of the car’s centre of gravity, which provide real-time monitoring of lateral, longitudinal and vertical loads, as well as body roll, pitch and yaw. The suspension’s magnetic damping is also part of the equation, as is the traction control, the Evo’s all-wheel drive, torque vectoring, Lamborghini’s dynamic steering, and the active rear axle (borrowed from the Aventador).

There’s a lot going on, a gazillion computations happening in 0.2 milliseconds all with the aim of making any numpty feel heroic, and a decent driver a superhero. Remember the time when these guys had trouble making the indicators work? It’s not dissimilar to systems used by Ferrari and McLaren, although the predictive element is a spooky addition.

Lamborghini refers to this as ‘feed forward’ (rather than feedback, geddit?), altering the car’s behaviour according to which mode you’re in: comfortable daily driving Strada, shoutier Sport, and sharper track-day Pirelli-shredding Corsa. Sport also contains what to all intents and purposes is a drift mode, but Lamborghini refuses to call it that on the grounds that its owners like the idea of being the masters of their own destiny. It certainly works, and the Huracan Evo lets you exit corners with the sort of deft dab of oppo pro drivers routinely deliver, before riding out the kerbs and maximising traction. There’s almost zero understeer, incredibly exact turn-in, while in fast, sweeping corners you can only just feel the algorithms strutting their stuff.

Mostly, HAL and his minions are mercifully unobtrusive, and the combination of slick software electronics and the car’s enhanced aero properties combine to substantially broaden the Huracán’s spectrum of possibilities (a nod here to Pirelli’s super sticky P Zero Corsa rubber). In fact, the engine now almost plays second fiddle to the chassis, an inversion you might not have expected.

It’s mightier than ever, of course, the old-school heartbeat of an increasingly technofied Lamborghini experience, although the seven-speed dual clutch ’box can’t quite keep pace with it on the circuit, and the carbon ceramic brakes – 380mm diameter upfront, 356mm at the rear – aren’t as resolutely feelsome as I’d like, and the car can move around a bit under really hard stopping. Work to be done here, I think. The steering could also do with a bit more heft, too, and lacks the absolute clarity that McLaren has made such a signature. But for a road car designed to be used daily, the Huracan Evo sure is one hell of a track machine.

Basically, I’d expect this to be a devastating bit of kit even on the gnarliest road, in Strada or Sport mode at least. (NB: apart from the stability control, everything else remains on duty when the ESC is switched off. But it can still get very lairy.)

More integration. Lamborghini’s brand reinvention aims to seduce new buyers (70 per cent of Urus owners are conquest), while appealing to its surprisingly youthful customer base. Although there must surely be one definitive way of serving it all up, the Huracan Evo features the sort of striking cabin connectivity that makes the Murcielago, God rest its soul, look about as contemporary as Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Star of the show is a new 8.4in capacitive touchscreen, which dominates the centre console. It’s preferable to the MMI in the Urus, with fantastic bespoke graphics, multi-finger gesture control (two swipes up or down for the volume), and a full read-out for the LDVI. Head-up display isn’t available because the extreme rake of the car’s windscreen doesn’t allow it. Dual camera telemetry is an option, as are a seemingly endless array of interior materials and fabrics. The air vents and doors can be finished in a carbon composite look, or in Lamborghini’s faintly creepy-sounding carbon skin. Although the car’s visual reworking is nuanced, Lamborghini’s head of design Mitja Borkert confirms that increasing the scope for personalisation was part of the process. “Other car makers are known for a single colour,” he says. “But Lamborghini is about every colour.” 

“I’m a hardware engineer,” Lamborghini’s technical director Maurizio Reggiani says firmly. “Let me put it this way: the software is always the slave to the hardware.” He and his team have pulled off a neat trick with the Huracan Evo: it’s heaving with hot new tech, yet somehow feels more organic.

It’s almost alarmingly easy to drive very quickly indeed, but will happily trade blows with you if you want to go that way. Bringing your A-game no longer matters: you can bring whatever game you want, and the Huracan Evo will adjust accordingly. Lord knows where they’ll go next, but for all that this car creeps towards AI, Lamborghini has remembered to keep the driver front and centre.​​

Original source: Lamborghini Huracan Evo TopGear

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