Test location: Bahrain International Circuit
New mid-engined supercars are still big news, anticipated as greatly by potential new owners as they are by poster printers and those with social media accounts that trade on, well, trading supercars. Despite the perception that performance has never been so accessible – we live in the world of the 400bhp hot hatch and 600-plus bhp supersaloon after all – to so many the lure of a new mid-engined supercar remains as strong today as it did when Lamborghini proved its Miura was as devilishly rapid to drive as it was delightful to look at. In the world of supercars some things never change, or rather some manufacturers don’t deviate from an unbreakable formula.
THAT DEVILISH V10 ENGINE SHOULD NEVER BE IGNORED. EVER
Some may put forward the argument that the design of Lamborghini’s mid-engined cars of the 21st century has taken a back seat since those halcyon days of Marcello Gandini’s original, with function overtaking form. Although the argument weakens when presented with a new slice of Sant’Agata’s finest, when it’s near impossible not to be sucker-punched by today’s design approach, no matter if the elegance has been replaced with a modern brutalism. Lambos still turn heads like few others.
From Gallardo to Huracán and now on to Huracán Evo, the entry point to mid-engined Lamborghini ownership has never been so aggressive or as sharp. Aerodynamics is the significant factor in how the Evo looks, with downforce the primary goal and drag the enemy.
The new front bumper, which has more of a hint of Aventador about it than any previous Huracán’s ever has, not only has a new splitter hanging from it but also an integrated and suspended front wing, too. The combined effect streamlines the airflow under and over the car’s body with more precision to where it’s needed most. There is also a pair of air curtains on the leading edges of the bumper to reduce turbulence within the wheelarches and channel the air along the Huracán’s flanks and into the intakes, which feed 16 per cent more air to the V10 engine that remains cradled between the bulkhead and rear bumper.
The Evo’s rear has come in for considerably more visible aero work than the front. At the base of the engine cover is a new slotted wing that’s split to perform two functions. The upper part is designed to create downforce, with the middle section there to create a venturi effect and accelerate the air through the wing to further generate downforce while also improving aero efficiency by six per cent. Both the front and rear body designs work together to optimise the car’s overall aero balance, with a new flatter and smoother underfloor designed specifically to suck the front and rear axle areas of the car to the ground before air is discharged through a new rear diffuser. The result is a sevenfold improvement in downforce over the outgoing base Huracán, yet without any additional drag being generated.
To these eyes Lamborghini’s entry to supercar ownership is a far more aggressive offering than it ever was, notably at the rear now the exhausts exit above the rear bumper line as they do on the Aventador. Even without the prominent aero add-ons that came with the Performante, the new Evo is a striking-looking machine and pure Lamborghini.
What it lacks in Performante aerodynamic dressage the Evo makes up for by taking the former’s version of the 5.2-litre naturally aspirated V10 and seven-speed double-clutch gearbox piece for piece, including the titanium valves and sports exhaust system. That means 631bhp and 600Nm of torque arriving at 8000 and 6500rpm respectively; respectable, and increases of 29bhp and 39Nm over the outgoing entry-level Huracán, but still some way behind the 700-plus bhp rivals from Ferrari and McLaren that the `1.83crore (excluding Indian taxes and duties) Evo will line up against.
Not that this is an immediate issue for Lamborghini’s Stefano Domenicali, who asks his engineers to put as much focus on how a Lamborghini drives and makes you feel as on how fast it will reach a set of performance benchmarks that are becoming more meaningless by the day: ‘Every additional bhp we add to our cars has to improve the performance and the fun-to-drive factor. If more power doesn’t make the car better to drive, we don’t add it.’
Should such numbers matter to you, however, the 1422kg (dry) Evo reaches 100kmph in 2.9sec, 200kmph in nine dead and will go beyond 323kmph. It’s also 5.7sec quicker when it comes to lapping the handling circuit at Nardò compared to the car it replaces, and 3.7sec quicker than the car it shares its engine with, a Lamborghini that also set a Nürburgring lap record when it was launched.
What it lacks in headline figures compared to a 488 GTB or 720S, the Evo makes up for with a soundtrack the aforementioned could only dream of replicating. (Are enough people truly aware of what we are giving up by pursuing increasingly unusable power outputs from turbocharged engines that are often no more efficient than the masterfully engineered naturally aspirated units they replace? Probably not. But humans only seem to know what they want and need when they can no longer have it) It’s a given that the Evo is going to sound good – it makes a wonderfully multi-layered, rich-in-texture spine-tingler of a noise – but it also feels nothing less than supercar potent even though we’re only getting to experience it on Bahrain’s Formula 1 circuit, an environment that can make even the fastest of roads cars feel like a fully laden school bus taking on a hill. Not so the Evo. It piles on speed between the apex of the corner you’re leaving and your next braking point with such conviction that if it wasn’t for the distinctive ten-cylinder howl you’d swear blind there were a dozen pistons pumping away over your shoulder. It even shrinks the stupidly long pit straights, as demanded of modern circuits by the F1 circus, with the same kind of disdain a Caterham has for weather gear.
There are three driving modes – Strada, Sport and Corsa – and you’ll drive once in Strada before using the toggle at the base of the steering wheel to select Sport or Corsa. The former is the sweet spot for the throttle response and gearshift speeds and it feels like the natural starting point for the powertrain.
The sharpness it adds to the throttle is a stark reminder of what turbocharged engines throw away, of how rewarding throttle inputs can be when there are no turbos having a hissy fit in the background. The precision and accuracy it gives back to you is one of driving’s great pleasures.
A manual gearbox would be the perfect icing on the cake for many, too, but at least the Evo doesn’t inflict its big brother’s single-clutch automated manual on us. The Evo’s shifts are, as expected, seamless, a-flex-of-the-finger quick to change, and thankfully controlled by paddles long enough to be operated with most degrees of steering lock applied. An archaic lever rising from the transmission tunnel with six individual gates to slot in and out of still wouldn’t go amiss though. After all, a manual ’box may be slower but it would certainly add to the fun, as per Domenicali’s remit. Here’s to dreaming…
Beneath the Evo’s sharper looks Lamborghini has massaged the hybrid aluminium-carbon chassis, focusing its attentions on the dynamics, and specifically the electronics. There is now, for the first time on a Huracán, four-wheel steering (from the Aventador) and four-wheel torque-vectoring (a first for the company). Along with the four-wheel-drive transmission and dynamic steering – which is the only type available due to the fitment of 4WS (for every ten degrees of front steering angle applied, one degree of rear steering angle is added, up to a maximum of three) – these systems are controlled by what is called Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Integrata, or LDVI for short, a piece of tech designed and developed in-house that you shouldn’t expect to see on an Audi any time soon.
Comprising a single ECU, LDVI is fed data from all four corners of the chassis, and also the throttle, gearbox, steering and brakes, and through its algorithms can command each of the systems it controls accordingly. So, for instance, while the Evo may be rear-wheel drive for most of the time, LDVI will distribute torque to the front axle when it sees fit, while nipping the brake on a rear wheel or two if it feels that’s necessary, too. It might even decide a tenth of a degree of rear steering angle could be useful, so it will apply that as well – simultaneously and without the driver noticing.
Lamborghini bills LDVI as a ‘feed forward logic’ controller, whereby it learns your style and characteristics to pre-empt your next move, rather than simply reacting to what is happening. Of course, it’s no mind reader, but it can prime the car’s systems in anticipation of what you will need them to do next as it measures yaw, pitch and roll through the active damper units. Brake pressure and steering angle are also added to the mix along with the throttle opening and the level of grip from each corner, leaving LDVI to process and respond accordingly within 20 milliseconds.
If our few fast laps of Bahrain in the Evo are a barometer, LDVI works, and crucially without killing the link between you and the car. The steering still lacks any feel or feedback and remains disconcertingly light no matter what speed you’re travelling at or how much lock you have applied, but it feels less of a hindrance and barrier to enjoyment than before. The Evo turns in with remarkable precision, not overly quickly in a bid to make you feel you’re closer to an edge than you perhaps are, just crisply and decisively when you ask it to hook into a curve and drag its nose through to the apex.
What is noticeable is how the steering wheel remains remarkably calm in your hands. Gone are the constant little adjustments the original Huracán’s steering required through and out of a corner. If you have any previous experience on track with the Evo’s predecessor it will take you a lap or two to process the new Huracán’s desire to work with you rather than against you. The speed you can carry into a corner is a big leap forward, while where you can build speed through and out of a turn is where the new car feels to have made its biggest and most significant dynamic gains.
If this sounds like Lamborghini has tamed its supercar for the masses, fear not: it will still step out of line and gladly dump you off your line if you treat it in such a way that deserves an equally uncouth response. But it feels so balanced when you’re driving up to its limits, when the front Pirelli Corsas are on the brink of thinking about relinquishing grip as you reach peak mid-corner speeds, or when the rears are ever so slightly losing the war on traction on corner exit. So much of this is down to you being able to meter out the engine’s very analogue power and torque delivery with a precision equal to that of the car’s very digitally focused chassis control. You quickly become sucked into the Evo’s insatiable appetite for thrills that don’t solely rely on increasing tyre manufacturers’ profits.
A few chiropractors might still be rubbing their hands with glee, though, because the Huracán is still far from perfect when it comes to ergonomics. You sit too high, and everything feels on top of you rather than laid out ahead and around you, but it is a small improvement over the outgoing model. Of bigger significance is the new HMI. It incorporates a new centre console and 8.4-inch touchscreen that sits ahead of the fighter jet-style starter switch cover (some things never change) and does away with the old Audi switchgear, replacing it with that firm’s latest technology. Which is no bad thing, because not only does it work, it also shows that Lamborghini gets what its connected customers want: a good connection.
Twelve laps, it may have been 14, of an F1 circuit is so far removed from the ideal introduction to a new supercar that drawing meaningful conclusions can become pointless in an instant. What we can take away from this drive is that the virtual shortening and lengthening of the Huracán’s wheelbase via its use of rear-wheel steering eliminates the old car’s high-speed nervousness and eradicates its low-speed clumsiness. It makes sense of the dynamic steering, which for all its faults in terms of what a driver seeking the purest thrills is after, works so much better now it has a direct (digital) link to the rear axle. How the torque-vectoring has been unobtrusively integrated means you don’t notice it nipping away here, there and everywhere, so it doesn’t cause a distraction. And the car still has that devilish engine to call upon, something that should never be ignored. Ever.
In recent times we have been restricted to track work when it has come to our first exposure to a car such as the Huracán Evo – the Aventador SVJ and McLaren 600LT launches being two such examples – and have come away with crucial questions unanswered, all focused around how they will drive on the road. The SVJ and 600LT both delivered beyond expectations – one went on to become evo Car of the Year, too. That’s perhaps a bold ambition for the Huracán Evo, but it is a car you come away from after the briefest of tastes with an even stronger desire and bigger appetite to want to feast on when the next opportunity arises.
Specification 2020 Lamborghini Huracán Evo
Engine V10, 5204cc, NA
Power 631bhp @ 8000rpm
Torque 600Nm @ 6500rpm
Top speed 325kmph+
Transmission 7-speed auto
Price 225,500 (ex-showroom)
+ If it’s this good on track
- We’ve got to wait for a road test
Drive-My rating 4/5