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    Driver’s seat or rider’s saddle, you are assured of grin-inducing thrills.
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Italian madness on 4 and 2 wheels

31st Oct 2016 9:00 am

Despite the difference in wheel count, could the MV Agusta F4 and the Lamborghini Huracán share the same incensed Italian soul?


Italian isn’t just a language. It’s a voice that speaks different things to different people. It speaks through just about everything you can touch and see. It transforms the mundane into magic, the routine into revered, it makes poems from pangs. The richness of this voice is perhaps best known to us through their automobiles, two wheels or four. To us automotive enthusiasts, it is eloquent, passionate, unhesitating and unwavering. They whisper wonderfully, but the timbre and tone changes, hinting at subtleties of characters. MV Agusta’s F4 and Lamborghini’s Huracán LP580-2 might seem unrelated at first, by years and genes, but spend time with them like we did, and then you’ll find that their voices do indeed seem oddly similar.

Crossing the line

“Let’s do that drift shot, shall we?” I ask Narain Karthikeyan who is piloting the Huracán for now. I am to lead, he will follow, we agree. I roll on the gas gently, watch the mirrors and wait for those cruel white eyes to come closer. The Lambo hangs back a bit, and then comes the roar from the V10. I don’t bother to check the mirrors any more, and open the gas. Immediately, I find that delicious and maddening medley that triggered the desire to bring these two machines together in the first place. The tingle of the engine felt through the bars, the roar of air being sucked in hungrily, and the growl from the in-line four rise from under me and work its way into my being. The engine might have been designed by Ferrari’s Formula 1 engineers, but it immediately reminded me of current-gen Lamborghinis. The Agustas sit in a rarefied spectrum even by Italian standards as supply is tight and pricing is at a premium when compared to the motorcycles from Bologna.

In the saddle, the F4 has drowned out the Lamborghini completely. The pop-pop from the exhaust, when you roll off the gas, is the icing on this cake. The MV Agusta’s turn-in is precise, but it feels a bit weighty – an inkling of its age. Couple that with ferocious performance and it means you need to focus on building a rhythm through the corners. The long left is tricky and with just a bit of nervousness, I throw the MV in and pour on the power. I know I need to keep a clean line and stay on the bike, as any mistakes could turn me into Lambo lunch. The Pirelli Supercorsa SP rubber stays glued to the tarmac and lets me rip out of the corner angrily. As I look back, I am surprised to see the Lamborghini grinning malevolently, just a few metres away! That’s all the reason I needed to open the gas again.

Running around the track, the steely performance of the engine becomes quite evident. The ingredients are special, like radial valves, varying length intake trumpets and near 200hp. The surge in the power delivery also emphasises the rawness of this experience. But it’s the utter, mind-numbing, time-stopping, light-bending force of the power delivery in the last 4,000rpm of the rev range that could make your heart stop. ‘Manic’ doesn’t begin to cut it. Get a touch too quick with the gas and the F4 thinks nothing of lifting its front wheel even at lower speeds. In corners, with the assistance of the inertial measurement unit and the allied electronic aids, you learn to relax a bit, but even then the throttle needs to be treated with respect.

Stockholm Syndrome

Once Narain steps out of the Lambo, I decide to swap seats. I can’t stop raving about the F4’s aural character and how it connects it to the Lamborghini’s. But my colleagues disagree. They insist that the F4 has a sharper sound – Ferrari-ish, they say. I’ll find out soon enough from behind the wheel of the Huracán while chasing the F4. The Lambo has theatricality down pat, and here in the cabin I can appreciate how this feels properly modern. The full-colour display reminds me that the F4 is actually quite old, and is now struggling to keep pace with modern-day features.

At first, I take it easy, letting the F4 pull away and K Rajini, India’s first motorcycle racer, is on the bike, gassing it hard. To my amazement, the sound from the quad pipes is more shrill than I would have imagined. It’s still wondrous, and so, with a shrug, I plant my right foot down. In an instant, the F4 is muted out; the mighty V10 sitting just behind me makes everything else fall silent. The tingling rawness of the Huracán connects me to the F4 and as I press down on the loud pedal, the LP580-2 fires forward at a dastardly pace. Through the first set of corners, I make sure to test waters as this is the LP580-2. A rear-wheel-drive Lamborghini is not to be toyed with under any circumstance.

Driver’s seat or rider’s saddle, you are assured of grin-inducing thrills.

That turns out to be a good call. The LP580-2 is a true Lamborghini. If you have been complaining about Lambos having gone soft, it is time you shifted your attention from the all-wheel-drive versions, towards these – the ones that can make your throat go dry. Turn aggressively and the LP580-2 has a hint of understeer. Boot the gas pedal and you’ll get oversteer in the blink of an eye. The mid-engined monster feels almost tame in its four-wheel-drive guise. Now, the weight sitting midship is a lot more apparent. It’s a grab-it-by-the-scruff-of-its-neck-and-wrestle kind of car. But who is grabbing whose collar is debatable. Even with the electronic aids switched on, the Lamborghini will have you sweat over your decisions. But as we drive around, the edge appears, a line that you slowly sense and feel your way around, until the rawness of the emotion and the rapidity of the machine feel thrilling, not threatening, and then lap times are forgotten.

Cold and Dry

They are just machines. Metal. Plastic. Glass. They don’t think. They don’t feel. They don’t do anything except what we tell them to. Right? All cars and bikes require some understanding and some adapting to master them. But some don’t give into you entirely. You don’t dominate them, you accept that there will be a part of them that will never be truly tamed by lesser drivers, and even the truly talented will have to sweat hard at the wheel to get mega lap times. However, the warm, tingling feeling that these feisty machines give rise to, even when you aren’t attacking tracks and lap times, will be reward enough. Yes, Italian is a voice, and the primal and crazed rasp that connects the Lamborghini Huracán 580-2 and the MV Agusta F4 is one that will keep whispering to us long after this day is gone.

Kartikeya Singhee

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