For several years in a row, Lamborghini has been choosing a couple of nice days in June to invite the press as well as clients to sample their latest offerings in Moscow Raceway’s speed limit free environment. This time around, the event revolved around their latest new offering — the Huracan Evo. Could they really have made this car any better than it already was?
For once, full marks to the manufacturer for calling things the way they are. The Huracan Evo is an evolution of the original Huracan, a mid-cycle refresh if you like. It’s not a whole new car exactly but neither are the changes that have been made particularly modest. It’s been engineered with a very different philosophy when it comes to driving. This was Lamborghini’s chance to right some of the (admittedly few) wrongs that were inherent to the Huracan as it first came out in 2014 and they’ve grasped it with both hands. Conveniently, the main issues with the first iteration were always the way it handled when approaching the limits of grip — so a racetrack was the perfect place to test it. Of course, on the off chance that you remember my review of the Performante back in 2017, Lamborghini already proved that they could build a Huracan which sticks to the road like glue. So it stands to reason that they would transplant some of that car’s genius onto the Evo. Which is...pretty much exactly what they’ve done actually. I do apologise for the lack of plot twists.
Few people would’ve complained about the 610 horsepower naturally aspirated V10 in the original, but the Evo now gets the more powerful 640 horsepower variant that we already know from, you’ve guessed it, the Performante. This so happens to be one of the most glorious engines of any car on sale today, so we’re off to a good start. And it’s not just the engine but the exhaust too. I’ve heard the Evo and Performante literally side by side and as far as I can tell they sound identical. And visually speaking, the only obvious differences between the two cars on the outside is the lack of of a big rear wing on the new car and slightly more subtle styling overall. I think the new rear end looks magnificent actually, but then I’ve always been a sucker for ducktail spoilers. Despite looking very slippery indeed, the new Huracan still claims to have seven times the downforce of the old one. Because magic.
But the most amount of witchcraft has been spent on an all new system called LVDI. My spellchecking software had a heart attack when I tried to write what LVDI stands for in Italian so let’s just call it the integrated vehicle dynamics system that it is. Basically there’s one computer brain that takes care of everything. Magnetic dampers, dynamic steering, the engine and gearbox plus the brand new rear wheel steering and torque vectoring systems — all are under LVDI’s control. When you learn about the sheer processing power that is being used just to make the car go around a corner a little better, you start to worry that things might start feeling a bit artificial. But the most amazing thing about LVDI is that it somehow makes the car feel more organic and more analog than before. The handling is completely predictable even while the car itself is predicting what its driver is going to do next. On some tracks, the Evo actually beats the Huracan’s lap times despite being heavier and having less downforce. For Lamborghini’s engineers’ sakes it’s a good thing that the witch burning laws are no longer in effect.
On the inside, there has been a modernisation drive as well. The center console holds a new 8.4 inch touchscreen which not only looks gorgeous but the new software is intuitive to use and packs every feature (and then some) that we expect a contemporary car to have. I also really enjoyed sitting in the Evo’s really rather comfortable seats. A quick driver swap into a Performante with sports seats was pretty eye opening. Those sports seats are literally the hardest car seat I’ve ever experienced. To the point that if someone stole your seat and you went to sit onto the car’s bare metal shell you might not actually notice much difference. Fortunately for my backside, I soon got to swap back into an Evo where life is just so much better.
Anyway, as this was a dynamic launch after all, I better get to talking about what it was like to drive. As is customary when a bunch of journalists are let loose in very expensive supercars, we’d have to follow an instructor in a lead car around the track. Boooooo. But then the lead car was a Lamborghini Urus and it was being driven by the professionals from Vasin Driving School so... yay, things weren’t going to be too slow. In fact, if you don’t mind me talking about the Urus for just a second, it remains a hilarious sight to watch a car as big and heavy as it is go around a racetrack at speeds that seem highly implausible. It’s obviously not as fast as the Huracan, not nearly actually, but you’d need at least a half decent driver in the supercar to keep up with a a well driven Urus.
As luck would have it, this event took place on a beautiful day but it was really rather warm at something like 27 degrees air temperature and a much hotter track surface still. This did not feel like ideal conditions for the Pirelli P Zero Corsa road tires that were on the test cars. They had also undoubtedly already suffered considerable abuse even before they had the misfortune to come across me as a driver. I’m sure that a brand new set in cooler weather would have felt mega, but on this day I thought that there should be more grip than they could actually generate. I will admit that my feelings about tires may have been ruined a bit as I recently started using slick racing tires on my own track car. Those are so much grippier than any road legal tire that you want to drive on nothing else ever and it probably skews one’s perceptions a little.
I still remember well how positive the turn-in was on the Performante, and the Evo should be just as good. But the lack of grip of the tires led to significant understeer into slower corners and then very heavy interference from the traction control (even in the most aggressive Corsa driving mode) when trying to get out of the corner quickly. We were strictly forbidden from turning the stability controls off completely, and that probably would have been the only solution to make the car come alive. That or fitting some Pirelli Trofeo R tires to the car, I suppose. That’s not to say that we weren’t having an absolute riot on track though. The naturally aspirated 5.2 litre V10 is so good and so exciting that you don’t really want to drive a turbocharged car again ever. Competitors like the Ferrari 488 or McLaren 720s may be equally exotic and equally fast (or even faster) but their turbocharged V8s feel mundane and generic when compared to the howling 10-cylinder heart in the Huracan. And when we’re talking about cars that can go from a dead stop to 200 kilometres per hour in nine seconds or less... going a bit faster still is completely irrelevant.
This car will scare most ordinary civilians to death and back if you launch it. The average human body does not seem to find accelerating from 0 to 100 kilometres per hour in 2.9 seconds a wholly comfortable experience. The way that these Huracans gather speed either makes you giggle or it makes you cry, there isn’t much in between. It’s a savage experience, but the power delivery isn’t entirely brutal. Because it’s a naturally aspirated engine the power gradually builds and keeps building as the revs climb and the valve timing gets ever more aggressive. It seems to go on forever, until well past 8500 RPM anyway. At which point things sound like the world might be ending. Then the lightning quick dual-clutch gearbox engages another gear and you do it all over again. For a petrolhead like me, life was pretty darn good for those few laps that I got to play with this expensive but oh so addictive toy.
The only thing I’d maybe like to change is to have the shift paddles mounted to the steering wheel instead of the steering column. Personal preference, I guess. Italian car brands all seem to mount their massive shift paddles to this way but for me, on a racetrack especially, I just find it difficult to use. It’s true that mounting them this way means that you always know exactly where they are and which side shifts up or down. But it’s also true that when you’re on a racetrack, the one place where you actually want to shift manually, taking a corner with some speed and a decent amount of steering angle you just can’t reach the shift paddle without taking one hand off the steering wheel. Probably just needs some practice to get used to, but I’d love to have it the other way. If you think that I’m sounding like a guy talking about how he wouldn’t date Monica Belluci because her hair is a bit too long, you may have a fair point. The hair (or the paddles) are not the actual problems that stop me from driving Monica or dating a Lambo. But I digress.
I realise that reviewing a car entirely on a racetrack isn’t necessarily relevant for your average buyer. I hope to do a follow-up later when I’ve had the chance to experience the car on regular Russian roads, but what is already clear is that Lamborghini have made a big and significant step with their best selling sports car. It’s still gorgeous to look at (though in a nice and subtle colour for me, please) but underneath its skin the Huracan has become better at, well, everything. It’s faster, feels more natural to drive and on top of all that is a little easier to live with, too. Not that it’s the kind of car that you use to go and buy groceries, but you get the point. It’s easily the best car in its class when it comes tickling the parts of your body that generate driving emotions. Which is, I suppose, something of a bittersweet thought. Because the clock is running out on cars with an engine like this one. But for now, we can make hay while the sun shines. And noise. Lots of noise.