I’m one of those people who think that waking up early should be banned. I’ve had to do it far too many times over the last several years, mainly for professional reasons, and you would think that after a point, I would have gotten used to the filthy concept. I’m happy to report that I still feel like shit if I have to drag myself out of bed before 8am, and having done so, my demeanour for the rest of the day closely approximates a grizzly bear with a large thorn in its paw. Wave the key to a Lamborghini in front of my face, however, and short of sitting bolt upright in bed at the crack of dawn, I’m willing to make concessions – major ones.
The Lamborghini that made me compromise my ideals was the Huracan (“Oo-ra-kahn”); it’s the company’s replacement for the Gallardo (Lamborghinis tend to be named after famous fighting bulls, or matters related to bull-fighting), which, in its 12-year run, became the largest selling Lamborghini model ever. No pressure to carry on with tradition and shore up the bottom line, then. Still, I wasn’t really thinking about sales figures – come to think of it, it’s a little difficult to think of anything when you’re looking at the Huracan’s arse.
In the soft light of an early morning, with all its sharp edges beautifully accentuated, the car looked like a stinging insect devised in a geometry lab, with polygons and hexagons merging into one other to stunning effect. Its snout is a sort of scaled down version of its big brother, the slightly terrifying Aventador, but from the rear three-quarters (its best side), the Huracan is very much its own machine. OK, give me the damn key already.
Unlike its big brother, that has doors which open upwards, you get into the Huracan the plain-vanilla way – by pulling the door towards you. Once inside, you’ll find yourself ensconced in the best cabin that has ever graced a Lamborghini – Audi ownership has clearly been a good thing for the brand, because ze Germans like zeir qvality done right, whereas the Italians didn’t really give a toss, back in the day. It’s quite retro in appeal, this interior, and the fighter-aircraft design cues in the switchgear are way cool. The seats are fabulous, gripping you with the ardour of a crazed lover, and for once, in a Lamborghini, you can actually see something in the rear-view mirror.
The Huracan shares its V10 engine with Audi’s R8 supercar (because, you know, sharing is cheaper), but it makes much more power – 602 bhp, to be exact, along with 57 kgm of torque. As soon as you stab the starter button and hear the ten cylinders burst into life, however, you know that this is definitely no Audi; the Huracan has a shattering high note to its exhaust that is all Lamborghini, and the mid-tones have a maniacal quality that make you want to stomp on the accelerator in inappropriate ways – which I proceeded to do.
One of the ways I judge cars is by the width of my grin and the duration of my laughter once I’ve mashed the throttle to the floor – and the Huracan made me laugh long and loud, like an utter idiot. In the manner of all great performance cars, it makes no pretence towards silly things like restraint, subtlety and civility; it just bloody well rips the tarmac out from under its tyres and tears into the distance, howling and shrieking a V10 opera all the way. It rockets from 0 to 100 kph in a fiery 3 seconds, and will reach the end of its tether when (and if) you can get the speedometer to read 323 kph.
At this point, I’d like to take back a few things I just said about civility and the like, because this Lamborghini has two very distinct faces. On the one hand, it’s a snorting, fire-belching trouble maker, only too happy to scare you witless and proudly display its anti-social credentials.
Amazingly, for a Lambo, it’s also as easy to drive in Mumbai’s traffic, at 50 kph in 7th gear, as a little hatchback – hell, it even climbs over speed-breakers without scraping its underbelly, thanks to its front suspension lift system, which raises its nose at the touch of a button. Its three driving modes (Strada, Sport and Corsa) can be accessed via a steering-mounted rocker switch; Corsa is balls-out, all-bets-are-off mode, Sport is a great sweet spot and Strada transforms the Huracan into as much of a puppy as is humanly possible.
You’d have to be mad, however, to drive this car all day in the city just because you can, mainly because I’m sure it has a feature which ejects you through the roof if you try to do so. It may be a ‘civilised’ Lambo, but it prefers to live life at the very edge of its tachometer, taking you along for the wild ride. The engine is brutishly powerful, of course, but the addition of a dual-clutch, 7-speed automatic gearbox has made the driving experience infinitely smoother than in preceding Lambos, which had older-tech gearboxes that kicked you mercilessly in the kidneys with each gear change. This ‘box almost shifts faster than the rate at which you can operate the superb paddle-shifters, and the accompanying retorts from the exhaust are crack-cocaine addictive.
I’ll spare you a lot of technological jargon by simply saying that the Huracan has a far better chassis than the Gallardo, with lots of aluminium and carbon fibre in use to save weight and give the car much more structural stiffness. The upshot of all this is a fabulous amount of balance, control and grip, with none of the ‘OhnoI’mfuckednow’ edginess that the Gallardo used to have around corners; the car’s advanced all-wheel drive system greatly helps, in this regard.
The electric power steering offers loads of feedback, and when blitzing through a series of fast corners, you always feel like you’re well in control, and that the car won’t viciously bite back if you make a mistake. Lamborghini has pulled off the feat of making the Huracan playful enough to instantly elevate your pulse, without quite making your life flash before your eyes every time you push it hard; this will make purists look down their collective noses (they won’t enjoy the hint of understeer that’s been dialled in, either), but the majority of people wanting to stump up this sort of money for a car will also want to emerge alive from it, thank you very much.
The Huracan is a truly remarkable machine, all told – it retains the ferocity that Lamborghinis are so well known for, and marries that with a level of build quality, and an ease of use, that I’ve never seen in Lambos before. In the world of my fantasies, where I would have the keys to all the world’s supercars and where molten chocolate would flow from taps, I’d drive the Huracan pretty much everywhere.