Rear [drive] of the year
Lose two driving wheels. Gain drift heroism
A car built to do skids. When all’s said and done and whether you actually choose to indulge or not, that’s the raison d’être of this new Lamborghini Huracán LP580-2. OK, one of the raisons. The other is both more relevant and prosaic: it enables Lamborghini to lower the ownership entry point by around £20,000.
This allows the 4WD Huracán to continue its battle against the Ferrari 488 GTB and McLaren 650S, while the 2WD version can ﬁght on a new front against the McLaren 570S, Audi R8 and Porsche 911 Turbo. OK, so it’s cheap for the top sector and expensive for the lower, but the arrival of this model undoubtedly enhances and extends Lamborghini’s market appeal.
But let’s get back to oversteer, because, well, because Lamborghini says so. The ﬁrm says there are ﬁve pillars on which this new model has been built: handling, load transfer, wheel control, steering feel and POWER OVERSTEER. The capitals are mine, but thoroughly deserved. When was the last time you heard a car company being that blatant about anything?
So let’s have a look at what’s been done to make this Ken Block’s kind of supercar. Firstly, it’s worth pointing out that a rear-drive Huracán has been part of the model plan from the very beginning. That wasn’t the case with the Gallardo LP550-2 Balboni back in 2009, to which not much was done apart from removal of the necessary bits of hardware.
This time, a more considered approach has been taken – it’s not only lighter but also softer. Simple stuﬀ: ditching all the unnecessary hardware has saved 33kg (all-up weight with ﬂuids is 1,497kg) and shifted the weight distribution rearwards from 43:57 to 40:60. R&D chief Maurizio Reggiani tells me that the aim was for the car to move around a bit more, to be more sensitive to weight transfer so, to that end, the front springs, dampers and anti-roll bar have been backed oﬀ by about 10 per cent. Same at the rear, but to a lesser extent – about ﬁve per cent.
The steering has been adjusted too, both the standard system and the much-derided optional variable- rack Dynamic set-up, to deliver more consistency and feel. And the engine? That drops 30bhp to 572bhp. Why bother? To diﬀerentiate the cars, basically. But operating within the standard engine’s safety margins, they’ve been able to adjust the whole line of the power curve.
Max thrust now arrives 250rpm earlier, at 8,000rpm, the downside being that the fun stops 250rpm sooner, at 8,500rpm. To be honest, that’s no biggie, and the trade-oﬀ is that the curve-massaging means the engine actually feels even more nuts at the top end, with a signiﬁcant extra burst of energy above 6,500rpm. It’ll still do 0–62mph in 3.4secs and on to 199mph, so no, not slow – on par with the other car rivals I mentioned, and both noisier and more exuberant than any of them.
Outside, there are new front and rear bumpers that are fractionally less aggressive, and – controversially – no LP580-2 badges whatsoever. If it were mine, I’d want everyone to know I’d bought the rear-wheel-drive one. It’s a curious omission. On the one hand, Lambo makes a big song and dance about the car’s dynamic ability, while on the other, it doesn’t allow onlookers to know exactly what it is you’re driving. No one will be able to tell from the styling amendments – they’re just too subtle.
If I’m honest, I feared the LP580-2 would be a bit clumsy at skidding about. I thought it might be snatchy and diﬃcult. On this evidence, that’s not the case. We’re at Losail Circuit in Qatar. It’s a long way to go to only be allowed to drive the car around a track, but as a place to test Lambo’s claims, it’s about perfect.
The ﬁrst thing you notice is the extra bodyroll. It’s not much, but Lambo has, of course, measured it – this one achieves 1.81 degrees of roll while the 4WD hits only 1.52 degrees. Small shift, you might think, but you do notice it. Not because the reactions are slower, but because you feel the weight move around as you accelerate, brake and turn. This means that through corners, the LP580-2 is very sensitive to throttle inputs. You can adjust your trajectory and line with little lifts and prods. It’s very satisfying.
Or, of course, you can clog it mid-corner and see what happens…
And what you’ll ﬁnd, if you give it a good prod in second, is that the tail arcs wide progressively, and when you chicken out due to the noise and drama and terror, it steps back into line smoothly as well. I’m not saying it’s as friendly as a Mazda MX-5, because it’s not – you’re not going to go skidding around your nearest supermarket roundabout, cackling wildly with clouds of smoke billowing in your noisy, acrid wake – but it won’t spit you into the scenery, either.
At least, not without good reason. The ESP can only be fully, fully disabled in Corsa mode, but that also stiﬀens up the suspension making things a bit trickier, so you switch back to Sport, but then even when the traction claims it’s fully oﬀ, it’s not. And Lambo hasn’t yet developed an answer to Ferrari’s insta-hero Side Slip Control. The ESP here will rein things in smoothly, but won’t let you hang it all out.
Here’s a weird one, though: there’s actually more body roll in Sport, than in Strada (street) mode. That’s the mode that Sant’Agata’s engineers have chosen to deliver the most interaction, movement and fun. And it is a laugh to drive. The V10 makes a properly addictive commotion, howling, popping and banging around the circuit, happily toying with the edge of oversteer if you barrel out of corners with enough determination. It’s raucous, amusing and surprisingly supple.
However, we need to discuss the steering. There was some confusion about whether the cars had Dynamic steering ﬁtted or not. The absence of feedback and texture suggested they did, the optional system’s variable rack (chosen by 90 per cent of Huracán buyers) trading oﬀ feel against in-town ease. However, it was ﬁnally conﬁrmed that they actually had the standard steering, which, given the slight turn- in understeer and lack of detail, is a cause for concern.
It could have well been that the track was dusty, robbing the tyres of a little bite and grip, but either way, the Huracán’s front end wasn’t communicating as well as I’d hoped. I suspect this wouldn’t be any sort of issue on-road, and, like I said, the chassis was nicely adjustable through corners. If it were me, I’d have this over the LP610-4. It’s a little more exuberant and enthusiastic about life, more fun to be with. And that’s what a Lamborghini is all about.