Lamborghini Huracan EVO vs Nurburgring

Say what you like about Lamborghinis but they retain the ability to create moments of pure theatre. One of many on the heels of the Huracan EVO driven by Lamborghini development guru Marco Passerini comes as we approach Pflanzgarten and my windscreen is full of low-flying Huracan, all four wheels off the ground, exhausts glowing like afterburners and the surrounding forest shimmering in a V10 heat haze. In full knowledge I'll be doing exactly the same fractions of a second later.

There's plenty of tasty metal being given the beans on this millionaires' track day. But, holy flying Lamborghinis, the Huracan has attention-seeking appeal even in this crowd. The EVO's job today is to prove it can deliver a drive to match.

It's nice to get some wheel time but the real reason for Huracan's presence is to - literally - tempt some of the GT3 RS drivers into the EVO for a lap or two. In the hope of convincing them Lamborghinis are about more than noise, hot air and making Porsche work that little bit harder for its lap records.

This is a bold play. Nobody doubts the Huracan's crowd-pleasing ability. But these guys take their Nurburgring lappery seriously. And there's a reason the GT3 and RS have such a monopoly, the AMG GT R and McLaren 600LT among the few able to stand genuine comparison. The Performante answered many of the early criticisms of the original LP610's all mouth, no trousers dynamics. But those worrying Lamborghini still puts showmanship and gimmickry ahead of substance won't have been entirely reassured.

Because Lamborghini's response to criticism the Huracan was dumbed down by tech like the loathsome dynamic steering and fun-killing all-wheel drive has been ... to add more tech like four-wheel steering and a '2.0' update on the existing gyro-controlled brain, dubbed Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Integrata in an attempt to make discussion of vehicle control systems sound like you're talking dirty in Italian. Hint - it doesn't.

Does its claimed ability to pre-empt the settings for all the various systems - all-wheel drive, four-wheel steer, torque vectoring, magnetic dampers, stability control among them - mitigate the inability to tweak the set-up beyond Lamborghini's prescriptive Strada/Sport/Corsa settings? The basic gist of Marco's explanation is that the three modes offer the basic 'mood' and distinct parameters for torque split and four-wheel steering that, for instance, unleash a bit of driftability in Sport. But that LDVI pre-empts and configures the car for what's coming, rather than reacting to what's just happened. Straight to Corsa it is then.

Before we've even reached Hatzenbach the EVO's new sense of agility is evident. Like all such systems it takes a little time to acclimatise but first impression is that the Huracan's take on four-wheel steering sits somewhere between Porsche's artfully unobtrusive set-up and the 'is the back end on casters?' approach of the AMG GT R.

The way it lunges for the apex, knife between its teeth, is unlike anything previously experienced in a regular Huracan. It's still hard to judge how input at the wheel corresponds to output through the front tyres but it does now go where you point it. Marco confirms that as you progress through the modes the range of the dynamic system narrows for more consistent feel, which is a relief given how it previously flopped between extremes of 9:1 and 17:1, seemingly on a whim.

You do wonder why fancy 'predictive' tech is truly necessary though, given a well calibrated passive set-up like you get in a McLaren 600LT gives you all the real-time information you need to drive proactively. Without the need for cod-Italian and gyroscopes.

In Corsa, the handling model is all about confidence-inspiring neutrality for a broad operating window. Which is for the best when chasing a senior Lamborghini test driver and fending off hotshoes in GT3 RSs. Refreshingly, even this most extreme setting has the flow and body control to roll with the Nordschleife's lumps and bumps, proof that Lamborghini has learned something from its recent obsession with 'ring laps.

"I cannot drive like Marco Mapelli. To go for those times takes a special driver," says Passerini, modestly. "But I can give him the car he needs to do it." That's evident in watching the onboards - compared with the manhandling required to get an Aventador SV or SVJ around here in Porsche-vexing time, the Huracan laps appear almost serene, at least in terms of Mapelli's inputs.

So, for all the visual and aural flamboyance the driving style is rather less showy, requiring smooth, minimal steering before unleashing that glorious fury in the EVO's Performante-spec V10. You can do so way earlier in the corner too, the new-found enthusiasm to turn in giving you confidence to unleash hell sooner. The lack of complaint through the chassis means one of two things - LDVI is a triumph. Or I'm just not trying hard enough.

This gives more chance to appreciate the magic of that engine, still the Huracan's stand-out feature compared with its immediate rivals. Sure, it's shared with the R8 and all that. But the sports-bike like cans and appetite for revs give the Lamborghini version a new level of aggression and authenticity compared with the more synthesised sound of the Audi. It's so loud it sounds like the Performante-spec titanium intake valves are inside my head and, after a couple of laps, I'm even considering the merits of ear plugs. But the sensory overload is all part of the magic, the lag-free interaction with 640 naturally-aspirated horsepower via throttle and paddles a stand-out feature even a GT3 RS motor struggles to compete with.

Over all this, the faint howl of protesting Corsas through the fast, off-camber right-handers down to Breidscheid bridge suggests I'm getting near the limits and, yes, it's the front end giving up first. Powering out of uphill turns with the front unloaded the default is still to understeer rather than to use the power to rotate the car in, meaning you inevitably back out and have another go. Don't try dialling it out with left-footed trail-braking either - like all Lamborghinis the EVO cuts the power as it would on a DSG Golf and leaves you hanging, which is a reoccurring frustration Marco shrugs away as required for safety reasons.

We've had some fast laps but Marco's test driver instincts mean he's keen we do some slower ones to free up thinking space to explore the other modes. Like a sulky kid being forced to do his homework I follow him back out, diligently running in Strada and automatic gearbox. Frankly it feels like someone's disconnected the steering completely, a sensation I recall from the original Huracan both with dynamic steering and the lazily geared passive set-up. Once again, the car feels flaccid and vague, still capable of making a great noise but frustratingly inert. I'm not sure the 'ring is the place to be exploring the showboating option of Sport mode but dip a toe and, yes, there's greater willingness to rotate on the throttle, the four-wheel steering and torque vectoring accentuating the sensation. I sense YouTube infamy knocking and revert to Corsa.

This exercise does reveal that the Huracan's bandwidth has increased by a huge margin, all the way from dumbed-down, nose-led safety to a sharper, more focused sense of the Performante's aggression. And in this sense the tech is an enabler, the Huracan now capable of delivering for proper drivers as well as just posers. An RS, GT R or 600LT would still offer the true purist a sharper dynamic experience. But, against Ferrari, Lamborghini is demonstrating it can learn fast and, within the timescale of a single facelift, the Huracan has evolved from mere showboater to credible contender. Where that stand-out motor previously felt in search of a car to do it justice, in EVO form the Huracan now feels more the complete package.

5,204cc, V10, naturally-aspirated, petrol
Transmission: 7-speed twin-clutch, all-wheel drive
Power: 640hp @ 8,000rpm
Torque: 443lb ft @ 6,500rpm
0-62mph: 2.9 seconds
Top speed: 202mph
Kerb weight: 1,422kg (dry)
MPG: Fuel consumption and emissions data is in the type approval stage"
CO2: N/A
Price: £206,000


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Comments (21) Join the discussion on the forum

  • sidesauce 01 Jun 2019

    Something about this particular version of the Hurucan really appeals to me - the detail changes Lamborghini have updated it with would seem to now make it more than the sums of its parts.

  • Gameface 01 Jun 2019

    The new rear end has made a huge difference visually. The original was far too bland at the back. Really like the EVO though.

  • aston addict 01 Jun 2019

    For some reason always thought these were more show than substance - maybe it’s the color, but this one looks sensational. And the best looking rear over all it’s competitors.

    Now, if only I could find 200k lying around...

  • Arsecati 01 Jun 2019

    In a heartbeat. Amazing machines as its 'rivals' are, I'd be sprinting to the Lambo dealership with chequebook in hand if the numbers ever came in!

  • LaurasOtherHalf 01 Jun 2019

    The problem Lamborghini, McLaren and most others to be honest have with Porsche as a track car is that the Porsche can, and will, lap all day.

    No disclaimers in warranty, no questions from the service desk manager, just go and drive it like it was intended.

    Due to the massive amount of race teams using the 911 as a base, you’re never too far away from independent advice and help on setting up, servicing and a whole cottage industry set up around making sure a 911 can be tracked, raced, hill climbed or even rallied at the most cost effective price.

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