Earlier this year, I got an exclusive opportunity to slip down into the cockpit of Lamborghini’s ‘base’ Huracán – the LP580-2 – to hammer it around a race track and find out what almost 600 naturally aspirated Bolognese horses feel like squeezed through just the rear wheels. Well, it must be my lucky day (lucky week, lucky month, lucky year?) because now I’ve got another opportunity to slip down into the cockpit of Lamborghini’s ‘base’ Huracán – the LP580-2 – to hammer it around a race track and find out what almost 600 naturally aspirated Bolognese horses feel like squeezed through just the rear wheels. There are a few differences, of course. This car is yellow rather than green (a crucial improvement, as anyone who’s ever had a Lambo poster on their bedroom wall will tell you), the steering wheel is on the correct side and the sat-nav says Tamil Nadu, not Taiwan. But best of all, where last time I only had a few quick laps of the entirely unknown Penbay International Circuit to satiate my thirst for, um, answers, this time I have all 3.74km of the much-more-familiar Madras Motor Race Track (MMRT) for an entire day! Best get moving, the Lambo and I have a lot of catching up to do.
REUNION WITH TERROR
It doesn’t take long for me to be reminded of my last tryst with this car. And in true Lamborghini fashion, that reminder is quick, loud and violent. I step into the driver’s seat and a few seat adjustments later, I’m barrelling towards the first right-hander. Egged on by a few light barks from the engine over my left shoulder and fuelled by that heroic feeling only a supercar can elicit, I slam the steering wheel firmly towards the apex.
Rearward weight bias more obvious without AWD.
Then comes the bite. The tail snaps out wildly and even as I ease off and counter-steer back into line, the excuses start flooding my head. Surely someone has left the car in ‘assassin’ mode with the ESC turned off; that’s what happened there. It wasn’t. The ‘Anima’ selector toggle is still in its tamest ‘Strada’ mode with all the safety nets in place. I feel like I need to go back into the pits and write on a chalkboard 1,000 times, ‘Never underestimate a rear-drive Lamborghini.’
EASING BACK IN
Okay, no more childish bravado. It’s time to ‘learn’ this car from scratch, and this time with a far gentler hand. I do remember that the nose is a lot, lot lighter than the LP610-4, since it doesn’t have to bear the burden and stresses of driveshafts at its front wheels, and all of the 33kg weight loss has happened at the front. It’s so much quicker to turn in, and though freshly re-surfaced, I can still feel every last ripple of the MMRT as I flick through the chicanes. The lighter nose also means the rearward weight bias is all that more evident in this car, and I have to teach myself to drive around that, lest it take another swipe at me. Carefully, I up the pace, hurling the yellow wedge into corners a little bit faster each time, and when the 305-section rear tyres do let go even a little bit, a quick pang of dread jabs me in the spine. The furthest I dare set the Anima switch is the middle ‘Sport’ setting, and of course the ESP switch stays firmly on. I’m not testing this car, it’s testing me. Slowly but surely, it’s all coming back to me; we’re becoming friends again, no longer hitman and target.
Concentration through corners, big dumb grin on the straights.
Phew, I’ve made it to the back straight in one piece, and I whack the V10 wide open – the howl, I’m told, is so crisply audible in the control tower, they don’t need to look to know where I am at any point. Can I tell that this motor has 30hp less than the AWD Huracán? Not a chance. It yells just as loudly, filling the two-seat cabin with a beautiful cacophony. Unlike Taiwan, I know the braking point for the tight right-hander that follows, so I slam late on the fast-biting steel petal discs and with it, apply two big downshifts on the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox – BWOARMMM… BWOARMMM… Words cannot do the sound justice.
A DYING BREED
Will we ever have another high-capacity atmospheric engine ever again? It’s certainly looking unlikely, and this is a thought that furrows my brow as I tackle the last corner before the home straight – uncoiling the steering and feeding in the throttle in unison. The hum becomes a snarl becomes a growl becomes a shout becomes a wail, and my eyes are almost watering as the MMRT’s longest straight is dispatched in the blink of an eye. I’m trying to count the number of high-performance motors available in India that don’t use forced induction of some sort – not easy when you’re also negotiating the 90-degree right of C2 – and, well, there’s Jeep’s 6.4-litre HEMI, the Mustang, this car’s sibling the Aventador, this car’s step-sibling the R8, some high-end Ferraris, one Maserati and a few Astons that are about to be replaced. That’s it.
5.2 V10 makes 30hp less than the LP610-4, but you won’t know it over all the noise
That gorgeous sound is just one side of the story; there’s also the power delivery. I never thought I could say this of something with 580hp but it’s just so damn manageable. There’s no sudden on-boost-off-boost step as the revs climb and fall amidst your gearshifts, and yes, while turbocharged engines have gotten so much better these days, there’s just no beating normal aspiration for predictability. Yes, you have to rev it to the high heavens to get the most out of it. And…? Exactly. With an 8,500rpm redline and the one-of-a-kind noise this Italian V10 makes, how could that possibly be a reason to complain?
Let’s face it though, a Lamborghini is as much (arguably more) about showing off as it is about going quickly. The look has been called ‘safe’ before, but I’m sorry – safe compared to what? A chainsaw? Perhaps the headlamps are a little on the tame side, but even those have V-shaped LED signatures that will stare into your soul. The LP580-2 has different bumpers from the LP610-4 and, personally, I prefer them. Even the rear aero and venting system looks more aggressive on this one, and don’t you just love the black slatted engine cover? And that flash value continues on the inside. The driving position is low and flat, as is the windscreen, and the Sci-Fi dashboard rises up and envelops you. Honeycomb patterns, toggle switches that are throwbacks to aviation, and the most ferocious-looking gearshift paddles I’ve ever seen.
Retro-tastic toggle switches feel great.
And as I ignore, for one last time, the crew on the radio asking me to come back to the pits, I remember how Lamborghini’s marketing team described the Huracán LP580-2. It’s the one for those who want to push their car, and themselves, a little bit more. The AWD 610-4 is meant to get the most out of the V10’s power, but this one is meant for the driver to feel the nuances of the carbon-aluminium chassis. Sure, it has a nose-lift kit to help you tackle speed bumps better, a smooth automatic gearbox and as many creature comforts as the average living room, but it’s still a no-nonsense supercar at the end of the day. It’s stiffly sprung, impossibly low and wide, and you’ll break out into a nervous sweat if you try doing a U-turn on a busy road. Mistreat it even slightly and it will rip you to shreds. The last lap is one I won’t soon forget – harder, faster and edgier than I’d ever have dared at the start of today, but constantly on my toes with 100 percent of my concentration. And my respect. The rear fidgets about, the steering rumbles in my hands and I may have lost some of my hearing; I’ve never felt more alive.
THE SWEET SPOT
It’s perfect – there’s just no other word for it, and that’s because it works on so many levels. Far be it from me to ever use the words ‘Lamborghini’ and ‘value’ in the same sentence, but Rs 44 lakh is nothing to scoff at, even when you’re paying in crores. That’s the price difference between the LP580-2 and the LP610-4, and it does make you question stumping up the extra cash for the latter. If you simply must have the ‘top-of-the-range’ Huracán, pick the Spyder convertible; you’ll definitely get a lot more attention out of it too. Perhaps it’s that extra 30 horsepower that you just cannot do without; well, if you’re able to tell the difference, you, sir, are a nobler man than I. Perhaps it’s the four-wheel-drive, and yes, this will prove a valuable safety net for many owners exploring the limits of a supercar for the first time, especially out on a circuit. But most Lamborghinis in India never see a race track, so unless you’re a reckless idiot pushing your car too hard on public road, the LP580-2 is safe and friendly enough with all the electronic aids engaged. At its price, it also sits in a tiny little cubbyhole between the sub-supercars like the Porsche 911 Turbo, Jaguar F-Type R, Mercedes-AMG GT and Audi R8, and full-on exotica like the Ferrari 488 and yes, the LP610-4. But I implore you, Mr Hotshot Crorepati, if you must pick a Huracán, pick this one because it is simply more fun to drive, once you’ve agreed to respect its ferocity, of course. And if anyone tells you Lamborghini played it too safe with its latest small supercar, they haven’t had a go in one of these yet.