Motoring

Huracán Performante rips through curves like no Lamborghini has before

This R6m Lamborghini is the poster car for handling prowess. We answer your pressing questions about it

02 June 2019 - 00:05 By
Be prepared to be cameraphone-mobbed when driving the Lamborghini Huracán Performante.
Be prepared to be cameraphone-mobbed when driving the Lamborghini Huracán Performante.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

Hell's bells, brother, this thing looks properly evil. Like it'll rip your face off simply for making the wrong kind of eye contact. Tell me about it …

Of all the Lamborghini Huracán models available to purchase, this Performante is by far the most focused in terms of handling and driver involvement. Honed to an impressively sharp edge around the death-defying curves of the Nürburgring, it exists purely for chasing down the most absurd of velocities.

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As such, it sports a modified exterior better suited to the business of keeping it stuck to asphalt at speed. This means it gets front and rear spoilers fashioned from the firm's exquisite forged composite: pieces of chopped up carbon fibre embedded inside a clear resin matrix that give the Performante a 40kg weight advantage over the standard Huracán.

Take a closer look at these unique parts and you'll notice that they house another secret weapon known as Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva. Basically, an active aerodynamics system controlled by a complex grouping of accelerometers and gyroscope sensors, ALA can automatically (and within a mere splinter of a second) increase or reduce downforce as required. Amazingly, this system can act independently on each side of the car depending on which way a corner happens to be turning.

Throw in a more track-biased suspension system, as well as bespoke Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres, and you get a Lamborghini that promises to rip through road curvature like no other before it.

And does it?

I've only had the opportunity to drive two other models: the uncommunicative Diablo and the heavy Aventador. Though entertaining in their own special way, neither of these machines was the poster car for handling prowess.

So in the case of the Performante, I didn't have my hopes set that high. However, after a few kilometres of familiarisation I discovered that this Huracán is as lithe and nimble as the marketing material would lead you to believe.

The steering might not be as communicative as you'd like, but once you get over this and take solace in the fact that there's a crate-ton worth of mechanical grip up front, the Performante is something you quickly grow confident in.

FAST FACTS: Lamborghini Huracán Performante

ENGINE: 5,204cc V10

POWER: 470kW at 8,000rpm

TORQUE: 600Nm at 6,500rpm

TRANSMISSION: Seven-speed dual-clutch

0-100km/h: 2.9-seconds (claimed)

TOP SPEED: 325km/h (claimed)

FUEL: 13.7l/100km (claimed combined)

PRICE: From R6,095,000

Franschhoek Pass is not a road to be taken lightly, especially not in something that costs more than all your worldly possessions and internal organs combined, and yet I found myself attacking it with all the aggression I could muster. The Performante revels in such treatment.

For a car so large it shrinks around you and becomes beautifully easy to place the faster you hustle it - even through tight, blind hairpin corners. While you can definitely feel the effects of the firm's weight-saving efforts, the thing that impresses me most about this Lamborghini is the way it adheres to the surface. Partly mechanical, partly aerodynamic, it takes a seriously violent right foot to initiate any real rearward movement (aka drift).

As is the trend in performance vehicles, the Performante has three driver modes switchable via steering wheel: Strada, Sport and Corsa. Strada is made for relaxed driving, while Corsa is best for fast blasts on empty back roads. As it makes the suspension painfully stiff (seriously, I could only stomach it for 30 seconds) I recommend Corsa for racetrack use only.

No turbochargers. Can't be that fast then?

You're joking. The Huracán Performante might buck the trend of adopting forced-induction, but that naturally aspirated V10 motor offers phenomenal punch. It allows this Lamborghini to hit 200km/h in a time normal cars are just approaching 100km/h, while cruising speeds of 250km/h (plus) are reached with no effort at all.

Even for somebody as jaded as I am, I've got to say the Performante is ridiculously quick: if it doesn't excite you, you must be one of those undead beings from a George A Romero film. It sounds absolutely epic too, especially when you roll it all the way up to the stratospheric 8,500rpm limiter (or come off the throttle in Sport mode and listen to those artillery-esque overrun bangs).

If it doesn't excite you, you must be one of those undead beings from a George A Romero film

I'd say this engine ranks as one of the all-time greats: a violent, skin-prickling opera that corrupts, scares and delights - often all at once. It's been paired to a good transmission too. Unlike the Aventador, which is marred by a jerky single-clutch automated manual, the Performante has a seven-speed dual-clutch box that charges up and down the cogs with minimal fuss. It also offers launch control for effortless standing starts.

Now as blisteringly fast as this Huracán may be, I found its brakes disappointing. Despite being of the purposeful carbon-ceramic variety (six pistons front, four rear), they displayed a noticeable amount of fade as I progressed down the Franschhoek Pass.

Perhaps the brake fluid in my test car was old or degraded but an onset of "mushy pedal syndrome" was not what I was expecting from a machine of this calibre.

What's life like on the inside?

Sink (it's seriously low) into the Performante and you'll discover that it has a cabin tailor-made for the business of speed. The driving position is exceptional, with plenty of adjustment to help you get comfortable behind the wheel. Side and forward visibility is pretty decent, which makes the car reasonably easy to manoeuvre through city streets.

Fit and finish is excellent with acres of alcantara and forged composites adding to the sporty ambience.

The interior of the Lamborghini Huracán Performante.
The interior of the Lamborghini Huracán Performante.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

Just sitting in a Performante feels special. There are some niggles, however, and the optional sport bucket seats top the list. If you're lapping the Nürburgring on your way home from work they may be acceptable. For everything else they miss the brief. Thin and hard, and offering only longitudinal adjustment, they're painfully uncomfortable after about 100km.

Could I use it every day if I wanted to?

If you're a raging extrovert who doesn't mind a ridiculous amount of public attention then, yes, you could. Despite its intended purpose, the Lamborghini Huracán Performante is reasonably livable provided you don't specify those aforementioned sport bucket seats.

Set in Strada mode, the suspension has enough give to cope with urban asphalt while the pneumatic lifting system raises the front axle (and that very expensive front spoiler) by a useful 45mm - enough to prevent embarrassing and costly damage.

A Porsche 911 GT3 RS is a better all-round proposition, but nothing makes more of a statement than the Performante - specially in loud green "Verde Mantis" paint.

Yep, be prepared to be cameraphone-mobbed wherever you go.


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