The sun sets on a day I’m relieved we got through so productively. And what a way to watch it set, too. A tiny, innocuous bylane sprouts off from a highway that I couldn’t tell you the location of even if I tried. It’s barely wide enough to accommodate a set of four wheels. A few tricky manoeuvres later, it opens up onto this glorious vista. I feel familiar enough with the car by now to roll two of those four wheels onto the soft white sand, but not quite familiar enough to avoid letting out an arthritic ‘ergh’ as I tuck my knees out from under the steering wheel and lift my unfit self out of the low-set driver’s seat. The deep orange glow bouncing off the beach sort of clashes with the signature Arancio Xanto paint shade, but I’ll let Gaurav, our photographer, worry about that. For now, I’ll take a moment to appreciate just how pretty this quiet little beach village just outside Kozhikode is. And that I’ve driven here in a Lamborghini Huracán Evo.
The place itself, you see, is as significant a part of this story as the car. Lamborghini sells about 80 cars a year in India, and while about 60 of those are now the Urus SUV, that still means 20 of them are loud, low-slung, mid-engined supercars. So where do they all go? You’re probably thinking the NCR, or Mumbai, or Bengaluru – and yes, the majority of them do end up in big metros like those. But you’d be surprised to know just how many of them are sold in the smaller cities and towns around the country. This is one story, among many, of some of those towns, those cars, and the amazing people who drive them – and I mean really drive them.
A hidden gem
Let’s rewind to a balmy 7AM. If you’re unfamiliar with the name Kozhikode, I’m sure you’re more familiar with Calicut. This is my first time here, and I’m already hooked. I thread the Huracán Evo through narrow market streets, trying my best to keep the V10 as hushed as it can get, so as to not startle shop-owners lifting their shutters for the day’s business.
The Arancio Xanto-coloured wedge is like a lightning rod for attention, but also fits just perfectly on the brightly-hued streets of Kozhikode.
Bystanders’ jaws are dropping because of the car, but I’m just as in awe of how scenic Kozhikode is, and how it’s managed to elude me all these years. Narrow the roads may be, but they’re butter smooth and wonderfully maintained, lined with palm trees, and peppered with colourful structures. I’ve almost forgotten I’m in a 640hp supercar, but a glance in the rear-view mirror through the tiny slot of a window over the engine bay quickly reminds me. In Strada mode, it’s just that easy to drive.
Indispensable for a supercar in India is the hydraulic front-lift system, which thankfully is standard on this car in our market. The speed bumps here aren’t as severe as what I’ve encountered on some inter-state highways, but I’m not about to take the risk, am I? A tug at one of the toggle switches, located front and centre on the dash, and a few seconds later, the front suspension lifts the pointy nose up to a safe height. Just remember to put it back down once you’re done, because when deployed, it makes the ride quite bumpy.
The essential nose-lift function gives you surprisingly usable ground clearance.
If you’re new to the place, it’s quite easy to get lost here, literally and philosophically. And as I pull over by the side of the popular (though unimaginatively named) Beach Road for a few quick photographs by the seaside, I figure I should solve at least one of those problems and get in touch with a local who knows the lay of the land. Turns out, he doesn’t live too far away.
I know a guy
A quick phone call and a nice, loud, 8,000rpm blast down Beach Road later (they’re all awake by now; I don’t feel so bad), the Huracán and I pull into a big gate and up the twisty driveway leading to a bungalow that fits just perfectly in this idyllic seaside setting.
The front door swings open and, accompanied by a big smile and a hearty handshake, out comes Nasly Mohammed, the Kozhikode local I’m here to meet. After introducing me to his wonderful family, he ushers me toward the garden for a cup of tea, and that’s when I spot it peeking out of the garage. Another very pointy Lamborghini nose, but if you know your Huracáns, it’s a distinct one that alludes to something spicier than usual. We chat about various things, but it doesn’t take long for me to blurt it out – “So you bought an LP580-2?”
Nasly smiles knowingly. “Yeah! I like the way it drives,” he chuckles. “I know it won’t be the fastest on a track; it probably can’t keep up with the four-wheel-drive model, but it’s a bit more drift friendly, so it’s more fun that way.”
I chuckle too, albeit a bit nervously, because I’ve driven a Huracán LP580-2 – the rear-wheel-drive variant of the pre-facelift model – on a track, and I can tell you with some certainty that it can be a handful until you’ve mastered it. But Nasly has more than mastered his car; in fact, he drives it almost every day.
“Unless I’m staying in my apartment in the city, where it’s difficult to park, I take it everywhere. The character of the car is that it’s very friendly; if you drive it in Strada mode in the city, it’s like driving any other car.”
But surely one doesn’t invest in a supercar if there’s no proper place to use it, so I prod a little further. “What about… longer drives?” Turns out he’s been on a 700km Lamborghini ‘Giro’ customer drive around South India, but that’s not what I’m interested in today. I’ve got the keys to the new Huracán Evo in my pocket and I want to know where a Lamborghini owner would go to really let loose around here.
His response is better than I expected, “Why don’t I just show you?”
Bulls on parade
Two Huracáns set out on a little Giro of their own, leaving behind a wake made entirely of noise. Nasly tells me he has a couple of routes he likes to frequent just outside of Kozhikode, and the one we’re going to is really special. The 70-odd-km drive getting there is entertaining on its own. Dotted with smaller towns and villages, but still paved with brilliantly smooth tarmac.
Nasly wasn’t kidding about his Huracán being playful and fun. He knows all the safe corners, and isn’t shying away from letting off little plumes of white smoke from the rear tyres every so often. With a car as unhinged as a rear-wheel-drive Huracán, at the steady clip we’re doing right now, the man has my utmost respect. I don’t need a signboard to know we’ve reached the road in question. The villages have fallen behind us, the roads, mercifully, widen out and they also start to climb. Steeply.
“You’re not still in Strada mode, are you?” Nasly inquires over a Bluetoothed phone call (the joys of modern supercars). “Of course not,” I lie. But he’s right – the roads have opened up, the traffic has thinned, I haven’t seen a speed breaker in the last 10km, and so I pinch down on the steering-mounted ‘Anima’ switch to jump to Sport mode.
Nasly drives these roads regularly and knows how and where to get the most out of his Huracán LP580-2.
The car reacts, hard. The tacho needle spikes, the V10 sings louder and, all-round, there’s a greater feeling of intent pulsing through the steering wheel. It’s as if it sent a message to the other car too, because the black Huracán starts to open up a gap.
I dive in to try and close it, cautiously aware that this is still uncharted territory for me. But even as Nasly starts to pile on the power, I’m doing a pretty admirable job of keeping up, if I do say so myself. Is it the power advantage? 640hp to 580hp? I doubt that; not on a road like this. It’s more likely the electronics, specifically Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Integrata, which abbreviates, rather less sexily, to LDVI.
It’s the new ‘brain’ of the Huracán Evo, the mastermind at work behind the curtain, that lets all the mechanical and electronic systems – steering (front and rear), throttle, brakes, gearbox, traction control, torque vectoring and more – talk to one another like never before. I get the feeling it can read your skill too, and compensate to make you feel like a hero. Without putting a muzzle on the raw energy of a Lamborghini, it makes it a whole lot easier to wield.
“How about Corsa now?” comes the suggestion, but I respectfully decline. I know from a short blast earlier this morning that the track mode is best left for the track. Nasly must come here a lot, because the few locals that are around seem less awestruck by, and more familiar with the sight of a Lambo tearing past them at great speed.
We’ve climbed several hundred metres up the mountainside now, the forest getting thicker, the vistas more breathtaking, and big slabs of rock for the two-engine symphony to bounce off. And to think just a short while ago, we were at the beach! Hairpin after hairpin, we roar up the hill, stopping every once in a while to take photos, for which Nasly so accommodatingly obliges. “Don’t worry, I’m having fun!”
Near the top, we park at a restaurant for some exquisite local food to help temper the adrenaline rush. What a meal, what a view, what a road, what a day! In fact, I’ve had my share of white-knuckle thrills for today; LDVI or not, driving any supercar is a feast for and a toll on your senses. Fun as this has been, Nasly has to head back too, so he bids me farewell with a few recommendations, and races back to Kozhikode, his car screaming off into the valley.
From the seaside to the mountains and everything in between, Kozhikode and its surrounding towns and villages took us on all manner of adventures.
I take the slow route into town, turning occasionally off in search of a good photo, and having Google Maps on the new touchscreen escorting me back to the route. My adventures lead me past plantations and fields, shops and houses, and even over a railroad crossing (bless that nose-lift kit), and eventually to the fishing village at the start of this story.
It’s probably by design that all my prior experiences with Lamborghinis, and I’m lucky to have had a few, have been either in a big city or on a racetrack. It’s where they’re at their best, whether that be strutting their stuff on the high street, or clipping corners and shortening straights. But who knew a low-slung, mid-engine V10 supercar could be so at home in a place like this? I certainly didn’t, and what a great introduction to Kozhikode it’s been – great company, beautiful roads, and fast cars.