Car: Lamborghini Huracan Performante
Owned since: November 2017
Previously owned: Toyota MR2, Lotus Esprit GT3, BMW E46 M3, Audi RS4 (B7), Ferrari F430, Porsche 911 GT3 997.1
Why I bought it:
"Ferrari Speciale, McLaren 675 LT, Porsche GT3 RS - all automotive legends that have one thing in common: I missed out on every single one at list price. So roll back 18 months and I called up the great guys at Lambo Manchester (I bought the Balboni from them) and left a rather speculative deposit on a Huracan 'Superleggera' (to later of course become the Performante). The rest is a bit of a blur: spy shots and speculation on the internet; a secret launch at Stamford Bridge; the Nurburgring record shenanigans; specifying the options at the Geneva motor show; first taste of the road car at Goodwood; car delivered to Manchester in late October; and, finally, safely ensconced in my garage in early November.
"When I look for a new car, I usually judge the shortlist on the following criteria: looks, sound, performance, handling, build quality/reliability and depreciation. In my opinion and relative to my experience, I would award 10/10 to the Performante more or less across the board, but more on that later. I also had the freedom to choose Bianco Monocerus (solid white) for the Performante to complement my white Gallardo Balboni LP550-2 and my friend's white Superleggera. What a triumvirate they make!"
What I wish I'd known:
"I knew from my GT4 that Porsche options were costly, but the Lambo list of options is staggeringly, excruciatingly and astonishingly expensive. For the money I spent on the 'must-have' extras, I could have bought a nice shiny new V8 Ford Mustang instead. However, Manchester Lambo saved me £800 (plus VAT) by throwing in the two 'Performante' floor mats for free! They also did me a very good deal on the extended front paint protection film - another 'must-have', apparently!
"I wish I'd known that the Lambo boffins had developed this odd marble-looking forged composite and used it generously on the exterior and the interior of the launch car. Fortunately, I have now grown to love the stuff and I think it contrasts really well against the Bianco Monocerus paintwork.
"Finally, it would have been good to be aware that the rear wing can pick up surface micro scratches very, very easily; fortunately, Topaz did an excellent job of protecting it with film."
Things I love:
"This car is absolutely, 100 per cent, awesome.
"The rear profile with the wing and its integrated ducts is fabulous; as are the huge central tail pipes. The engine bay cover with the slats and then the Plexiglas section, which unashamedly shows off the V10 engine, is really cool I think. And the manifold cover in brash bronze, which is apparently a homage to previous special-edition Lambos, is a very nice touch.
"The side profile is relatively conservative but the Italian tricolore stripe - which shows up very nicely against the white - makes it looks more interesting. I have the rare lightweight forged Narvi rims, which are unique to the Performante and I think look fantastic. The tyres don't quite fill the arches like my GT4 but this is a minor niggle.
"I made sure that I specified all the Performante-specific interior options to make it look as special as possible. The Alcantara steering wheel is lovely tactile experience with a red-centre stripe. The Performante even has new digital displays which adjust according to the drive mode. In Corsa mode the centre screen is dominated by a semi-circular digital rev display straight from a PS4 game. Think fighter-jet interior complete with missile launch button.
"Compared to the Balboni, the Performante's interior design is from the modern Starship Enterprise - the Balboni interior more from Blake's Seven's Liberator!
"The first time that I took it out, it was definitely squeaky bottom time. The dealer had already warned me how one over-exuberant customer had put their demonstrator in a ditch on a cold morning in Stockport. I left the car in Strada mode, the steering was very light and the car was surprisingly manoeuvrable. The nose lift was quick and efficient both up and down. The engine was docile, the parking sensors and rear camera all worked well together - all manoeuvres were a doddle. None of the bunny-hopping histrionics of the single-clutch Gallardo.
"Pushing the Anima switch from Strada to Sport made things much more interesting.
Now I have experienced loud exhausts, but nothing prepared me for the sheer brutality of the Performante's sound. The underlying and very satisfying V10 sound from the Balboni is still recognisable but it is as if the volume knob has been turned up and up and up. Shifting down, even at low speeds, is like chucking an IED into the exhausts; the car pops and bangs with such unashamed ferocity and explosive force - I love it!
"One thing I had not counted on was the usability of the Performante and the Jekyll and Hyde personality between Strada and Sport/Corsa modes. With slightly more comfortable seats it could almost be your daily drive.
"The Performante is not perfect, in that the steering lacks some of the textural road feel of the finest GT Porsches. However, the 4WD gives it superb sure-footedness and you would have to be crazy to lose it on a public road. I cannot even feel any limits of the handling of the car but given its pedigree I don't think that these can be safely explored on public roads. Driving the Balboni back-to-back with Performante, I was surprised how the rear-drive Balboni was more delicate to steer and relatively playful - telegraphing its grip levels more effectively to the driver. I have done several thousand miles in the Balboni and only a couple of hundred in the Performante however, so the jury is still out."
Things I hate:
"The Performante is superb, but there are a few minor niggles...
"The Performante sport seats are things of exquisite beauty: carbonfibre with laser engraving (as an option). But you have to suffer for your art. The seats feel as if they lack any sort of padding so on longer journeys the lower part of your back might end up feeling a little sore. On the positive side you can only be 100 per cent alert sitting in those seats and when you are 'on it', they do start to make more sense.
"The lack of stowage capacity inside the car borders on the comical and this is coming from someone who is used to having very little supercar storage on board. There is not even a glove compartment! Fortunately, I have found a very useful cubby hole under the centre console which has enough space for... a set of car keys! My advice is to make sure you wear a jacket that has plenty of pockets.
"The front aero in forged composite is a fantastic design but this means that there is nowhere for a standard front number plate to be fitted to the car and I have to make due with a sticky one from eBay... It is amazing how I have admired so many Performantes but never noticed that not a single one had a front numberplate!"
"The Performante feels really solid and well-built and has not missed a beat. I would be very surprised if it needed any attention before its yearly service.
"I think your average army tank may return better fuel economy. However, this is all down to my fascination with Sport mode. In Strada/Comfort mode the car is really docile and with banks of cylinders being automatically switched off to preserve fuel economy, I have returned a respectable 30mpg on a recent motorway cruise. It costs just a few hundred pounds more than the Balboni to insure. The first owner is hit by the £2,000 road tax so subsequent owners pay around £500 per year.
"On a car like this, paint-protection film is a must in order to keep the paintwork pristine. Expensive but well worth it in the long run.
The Performante comes with a standard four-year warranty, which is comforting. Used prices are holding up well so it could be an investment for the future, particularly as the next generation Huracan will almost certainly have hybrid technology. Could it become Lambo's equivalent of the last-of-line Ferrari Speciale? I hope so!"
Where I've been:
"'Drive it like you stole it' was the advice I received upon delivery but being somewhat traditional and mechanically sympathetic, I have tried to exercise some self-restraint on revving it hard. However, the engine is so rev happy that this is actually far more difficult than it sounds. So track days are definitely off limits for the time being. Instead, I have been building up confidence and speed on my favourite local A- and B-roads.
"A well used Ferrari Speciale. But after The Grand Tour (episode 7), I'm not quite sure - perhaps in a few years time, a well-depreciated 720S instead?"
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