It won't have escaped your attention rear-driven Lamborghinis don't come around all that often. The Diablo was the last series car to be launched in rear-wheel drive, the Gallardo only got it six years after launch and the Murcielago never had the option.
Matt's poker face needs a little work
Moreover, they don't actually prove that popular. Yes, the Gallardo Balbonis sold out, but how many of the
models do you ever see? Not many. On PH at the moment eight of
the Diablos for sale
are four-wheel drive VTs. And on our recent Italian
jaunt with Lamborghini
, not one of the 28 UK customer cars was two-wheel drive.
Therefore it's really quite significant to have this rear-driven Huracan LP580-2 so early in the model's life cycle. It's a series production version too, available just like the standard LP610-4 and Spyder versions. Given they seem to be most popular with journalists rather than the people actually buying them, it's a pleasant surprise to see it introduced. Nice work Lambo!
The good news continues. R&D boss Maurizio Reggiani is only too keen to stress the importance of fun in this car's development. Yep, the f-word in a press conference. Indeed, though there's a video of the car pounding round Imola, lap times are never mentioned as a priority. Presumably that will be the job of the Superleggera, or whatever the mega Huracan will be, but we'll return to that later.
Less, apparently, more like it
The 580, says Reggiani, has been designed and developed on five pillars: handling, power oversteering (really), load transfer, wheel control and steering feeling. A good list. Compared to the four-wheel drive car the 580-2 is 33kg lighter, with the weight balance now 40:60 front to rear. To that end the kinematics of the rear suspension are new, the springs and dampers are tweaked and the driving aids recalibrated to emphasise the "classic oversteering feeling". Finally, but just as importantly, the optional Dynamic Steering has received work as well. Though they are two different systems, you have to guess some of the experience from
the Aventador SV
must have been incorporated here.
So with that message of pure rear-wheel drive most definitely across, it's time for the track drives at the Losail circuit. Immediately there are positives to report. The Dynamic Steering - it's fitted to every car on the launch - is better, the impression now of a much more consistent system once lock is applied and less need to second-guess inputs. It still feels a little unnatural for those first few degrees off centre but it's much improved. And it's optional, remember.
'Just' 580hp but enough to be going with
Furthermore, any concerns a power reduction would neuter the Huracan are swiftly allayed. 30hp down it may be, but don't forget that 33kg weight saving too. Any performance difference would need a more seasoned bum dyno than mine because it still feels bloody rapid. It isn't as bombastic as the
Ferrari 488 GTB
, but then it was never going to be with between 70 and 90hp less and a massve gulf in torque. What it does feel is incredibly exciting, the engine rewarding in a way those two turbocharged V8s simply cannot. While they both produce peak power at 7,500rpm and above, they are also making so much torque low down that it can feel unnecessary to extend them that far. In the Lamborghini it's so noticeably more potent and ferocious at high revs and you will find any excuse to let it wail beyond the 8,250rpm power peak to the limiter somewhere past 8,500rpm. Combined with the flawless dual-clutch transmission, it's a stunning powertrain on track.
And the noise. The noise! Of course it's identical to the four-wheel drive car, but the way it growls, barks and shrieks its way to nearly 9,000rpm must be celebrated again. Lamborghini wants to stick with atmospheric engines for as long as possible, and it takes one run through third gear in this to be reminded why it really, really must. It's an absolute joy.
Slightly changed 'face' but otherwise visually identical
Given our time with the Huracan is solely on circuit, it makes sense to skip the Strada and Sport modes nice and quickly to give Corsa a try, tuned as it is "to provide oversteering characteristics". Before that though you will notice a keener front end, the lack of weight over that axle making an immediate difference. It turns in more sharply and, though the steering still isn't that detailed, you know that understeer is through too much corner speed and not the four-wheel drive juggling things round. Though the Huracan is dynamically very safe, the 580-2 puts you at ease more swiftly than the 610-4.
So what of the "classic oversteering feeling"? Well it's certainly there! Keep the power on through that initial understeer and it will gradually bleed away as the momentum moves rearwards. The messages come through your bum rather than the wheel but the corrective inputs are instinctive and the car feels totally composed and faithful as the rear Pirelli PZeros (also new for this application) just begin to overspeed.
The purist's Lambo ... but do purists buy 'em?
Frustratingly though the electronics don't feel as advanced as in the competition. Yes, the ESC has a high enough threshold in Corsa mode, but whereas in the McLaren and Ferrari it feels like the assists are there to, well, assist in your showboating, the Huracan is more strait-laced. The power is cut and you're straightened up smartly; it feels more like admonishment for breaching a limit rather than a helping hand like Side Slip Control. Work at the Lamborghini though and there's a nice operating window just below the ESC intervention, and it's certainly more entertaining than the four-wheel drive car. We'll aim to get the car on track in the UK for some huge drif - sorry, a more thorough test - as soon as we can.
And with the ESC off? Well the car is in one piece and there were no tears or screaming, so that's something. In fact the 580 feels superb beyond the limit, the rear following round really progressively in its slightly wider arc. That beautifully responsive engine means minute adjustments can be made, the car revelling in this slightly naughty cornering state. The problem comes - or at least this is the excuse you're getting after only a lap of practice - with the Dynamic Steering, its odd response making it hard to judge those last few degrees of lock as the slide is corrected. Then you'll get spotted with a slightly errant drift and be told off. Sorry. But with the normal steering - or most likely a more talented driver - the Huracan has all the makings of a rear-wheel drive Lamborghini that wants to indulge your hooligan side while also not actively trying to kill you. Hurrah!
Optional ceramics started to wilt
Along with the Dynamic Steering, all cars at the launch were equipped with the carbon ceramic brakes, which will be optional on the LP580-2. Do you need them? Tricky one. While their performance on track was good, the pedal went a little long after just a few laps. And at no point were they as confidence inspiring as you would find in a - you've guessed it - 488 or 650S, or even an Aston V12 Vantage.
Elsewhere the Huracan LP580-2 is as you were for the 610-4, which means very good. The wheels are new and the styling ever so slightly different but they haven't detracted from the jaw-dropping looks one little bit. The interior, while not as driver centric as the Ferrari's or minimalist as the McLaren's, is very stylish and simple to use.
To conclude, it really is very hard to see why anyone would buy a four-wheel drive Huracan over a two-wheel drive version. This new 580 is not only more fun to drive, it will be cheaper too; UK prices aren't yet confirmed, but we're told to expect a 13 per cent drop over the 610 and a list price of "around £160,000". It's therefore within McLaren570S territory and, moreover, gives the Huracan a unique selling point over the Audi R8, which can be specced to around £150,000 quite easily.
At present the Huracan simply isn't as rewarding or immersive as either of the McLarens or the Ferrari. But remember this is just the start for rear-wheel drive Huracans. Reggiani says a Pirelli Trofeo tyre is due soon and there will inevitably be faster Huracans on the way. If response to this car is good - and there's every reason it should be - who's to say we couldn't see a return to the lightweight and focused rear-drive Lambos? There's a factory racing car plus the success of the Aventador SV to build on. A Huracan GT3-R could be magnificent. The fun objective has most definitely been achieved for the two-wheel drive Huracan then, but the most exciting news is that there's even more to come.
Watch the onboard video here.
LAMBORGHINI HURACAN LP580-2
Engine: 5,204cc V10
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto (Lamborghini Doppia Frizione), rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 580@8,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 397@6,500rpm
Top speed: 199mph
Weight: 1,389kg (dry)
MPG: 23.7mpg (NEDC combined)
Price: c. £160,000 (TBC)