It was just three months ago when, in this column, I pompously and piously pronounced that I would never again drive at excess speeds on a public highway. I referred to the 140 mph I had averaged testing the Ford GT in 2006.
Two days later the call from Lamborghini came, asking if I would like an extended test of a Huracán. I sensed that my newly-found resolve was going to be tested.
The successor to the wildly successful Gallardo, the Huracán has all the goodies you might expect in a mid-priced ($221,495) supercar. It includes a 5.2-liter mid-mounted V10 that produces 602 horsepower (50 more than the Gallardo), a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, and an aluminum and carbon-fiber chassis. Our car was the two-wheel-drive version, with a full complement of nanny aids to help keep us on the road if my right foot suddenly decided to play “mash-the-pedal.”
The Huracán has a clean, uncluttered shape that reminded me of the original Countach LP400, with a single, sensuous curve from the front of the car to the rear. The retro influence carries over to the interior, where the hexagon pattern to the dashboard evokes the 1967 Lamborghini Marzal.
As Lamborghini is owned by VW/Audi, it’s no surprise that most of the center-stack switch gear is sourced from high-end Audis. That is to say, the controls are poorly marked and hard to understand. But that’s common with most German cars, whose approach to ergonomics continues to follow the “Kukla, Fran and Ollie” school of design.
My co-pilot was John Draneas, SCM “Legal Files” contributor. We planned a three-day, two-night trip that would take us from Portland over Mt. Hood to Bend, then down lightly traveled Highway 31 past Fort Rock to Highway 395 with lunch in Lakeview. From there we would head across Highway 140 to Klamath Falls. Our second night would be spent at a fly-fishing mecca, the Steamboat Inn, on the Umpqua River, and then we would come back on secondary roads to Portland.
Where do you drive it?
In today’s world, testing a supercar that is capable of 202 mph (according to Car and Driver) presents a conundrum. The paperwork I signed when I took delivery of the car included my agreeing that the vehicle “will not be operated contrary to the laws of any jurisdiction.” A friend who is an attorney who specializes in defending traffic violations reminded me that posting any pictures that indicated I was exceeding the speed limit could come back to bite me if my insurance company saw them, or could be used as additional evidence against me if I were stopped for speeding.
However, my assumption is that Lamborghini didn’t create this rocketship to be driven within the performance envelope of an entry-level Jetta.
The Huracán is a single-purpose weapon that needs to be driven hard before its brilliance begins to shine. Around town, it’s awkward — hard to get in and out of, and with badly compromised sightlines to the side and rear.
Leaving Portland during rush hour on Friday, the Huracán behaved like a proper car in traffic. Soon enough, we were motoring along at 55 mph — well, maybe 60 if you promise not to tell anyone.
Wherever we stopped, the Huracán immediately attracted attention, most often from those under 30. Gawking was not uncommon.
Saturday morning we were up early. The Huracán, parked outside, was covered with morning mist, and we were ready for the wide-open stretches of the Central Oregon high desert.
So, how was it?
This column now bifurcates. If you are an officer of the law, the risk-manager for a car company, or an insurance agent, I am pleased to report that at speeds up to the legal limit (55 mph on Oregon two-lane roads), the Huracán felt safe and stable. Potholes didn’t upset it. It got excellent gas mileage, in the 15–20 mpg range, and we finally figured out how to tune the radio. End of review.
On the other hand, if you are a lover of exotic cars and are interested in what the cutting edge of performance is in the quarter-million-dollar range of supercars, let me tell you what I can easily imagine after spending a weekend with the Huracán. More guided-missile than car, it’s a purpose-built machine designed to gobble up huge amounts of pavement in insanely small amounts of time. Like a thoroughbred horse, its flanks seem to get sweaty when it is pushed, and its muscles begin to bulge. This is a car that looks good when it gets dusty. The steering is light and purposeful, and the gearbox is a delight.
The suspension and gearbox have three settings — Strada, Sport and Corsa. In Sport, the suspension is more firm and the shift points higher and more crisp — but the stability controls are still there to help keep you out of trouble. In Corsa, there is no automatic shifting, and it’s up to you to keep all four wheels on the tarmac.
The harder you push the Huracán, the more the genius of the chassis, engine, gearbox and suspension are evident. If anything, the car feels more stable the higher the speed, perhaps through the magic of electronic adjustments.
I’ve read that under full throttle in Sport mode, the Huracán shifts into top gear, 7th, at 150 mph. I can only wonder what that feels like.
After three days and hundreds of miles, we arrived back in Portland. What had been an F-16 on wheels across the vast open plains of central Oregon became a docile city car. In today’s world, we expect that our supercars behave like “normal” cars when we want them to, and then emerge like Clark Kent from a phone booth when we ask them to cross states with a single burst of speed.
It’s remarkable that Lamborghini can create such a dual-purpose machine that is humble in town, and a thundering bull on the back roads.
However, in today’s world of Orwellian surveillance, where can you explore the formidable limits of this car without fearing massive repercussions?
Perhaps when we’re sitting together at an event, after a couple of glasses of good, rich Italian red wine, I can share my thoughts with you about what it might have been like had I dared to explore the performance envelope of the Huracán. I do have a vivid imagination.
In the meantime, I’ll savor the 0–60 times of under 3 seconds and wonder what faster would have been like. ♦