25 September 2023

Lamborghini Huracan Performante – $532,635

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By Karl Peskett.

Turbochargers are one of the wonders of modern engineering. They take the energy from a waste product and turn it into an economic and performance advantage. Using exhaust gases to spin up a tiny fan and compress fuel and air has enabled modern engines to create more power and use less fuel from smaller capacity engines.

Cars are thus getting quicker and becoming more efficient, but in addition, they’re reducing noxious emissions, something a climate-conscious world is certainly interested in. Win-win, right? Well, yes, for the most part.

The one area that turbochargers don’t help with is sound. It doesn’t seem like a big consideration for something like a Mercedes-Benz B-Class, but when it comes to sports cars, that’s a large part of their appeal. You see, by using the exhaust to power the turbo, the gases don’t flow as freely, creating a very muffled effect, and thus destroying aural pleasure.

That’s why when Lamborghini decided to stick with engines that don’t use turbocharging, the world rejoiced. And when one of those engines is a 5.2-litre V10, there’s even more reason to embrace it. But things get even better.

You’ll remember the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera of a few years ago, which used a simple formula. More power with less weight equals a faster car. Well, now the Huracan came in for that same treatment. It’s called the Huracan Performante, and it’s one of the fastest cars the company has ever produced.

With an extra 22kW on board, the Performante now produces 470kW and 600Nm, in a car that weighs just 1382kg. With a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox channelling the power to all four wheels, this supercar equals the mighty Aventador with a 0-100kmh time of just 2.9-seconds.

Reading something and experiencing it are two very different things, as we discovered in our time with the car. The ferocity of the acceleration is quite something, but it’s the build-up of power toward the redline that widens the eyes. Each gear adds to the experience, building with a crescendo of a soundtrack married to an unrelenting push from behind.

Tip it into a corner, though, and the real revelation comes. This thing is not just a straight-line wonder – it’s a true driver’s car. The steering is quick and super direct, but without being too heavy. At lower speeds, in tight 90-degree turns, the Huracan’s all-wheel-drive system can be felt pushing the front a bit, and a simple lift off the throttle is enough to tuck the nose in before feeding in more power.

As the speeds rise, though, and the corners become longer, the AWD setup becomes an asset and not a liability, aiding putting the power down without the tail-happy attitude of the RWD version. The balance of the chassis is amazing, and an active aerodynamic system comes into play.

Called ALA for short, this opens flaps at the front to force the nose down, while at the rear, the huge spoiler has air channels running through it, with flaps on each side which help to turn the car into a corner and make it grip even more.

You soon start trusting the suspension, the grip of the tyres, and the aerodynamics, which all work in concert to produce a vehicle with roadholding that defies logic.

In Corsa (race) mode, while carving up a corner, listening to that V10 sing at 8000rpm – you know you’re alive.

Also helping your confidence is the carbon-backed bucket seats that are definitely for racing and not for long distance. After spending several hours in them on the freeway, it’s safe to say I was pining for a normal car seat and not something this hard and brutal on the spine.

You can of course, put the Performante into Strada (street) mode, but this just quietens the engine a bit and softens the suspension a fraction. Those seats are still an issue and are the one thing I’d change. Thankfully, you can opt for normal seats at no extra cost, though they do add a bit more weight.

Of course, being a Lamborghini sports car, there’s not much in the way of practicality. There are no cupholders and the space under the bonnet is enough for a small travel case, but not much more.

This isn’t the car for a weekend getaway. But it is the car that makes your spine tingle, and makes you appreciate the joy of driving. The Huracan Performante is an absolute joy – it’s just a shame that it takes over half a million dollars to get to enjoy one properly.

It is, without a doubt, the best car we’ve driven this year.

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