To the average wage earner, the all-new Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4 super-sports car would seem about as obtainable as a private jet, but compared to its club-exotica rivals, it’s a genuine bargain.
Just compare the Huracan’s $428,000 price tag to its archrival, the Ferrari 458 Italia, (costing a stratospheric $525,417) and you soon get the point. Even the similarly positioned McLaren 650S Coupe is significantly pricier, at $441,500.
And lets not forget the less exotic, but just-as-potent, made-in-Germany contenders – namely, the wickedly quick Porsche 911 Turbo S priced from $467,400, and the sometimes-overlooked Audi R8 V10 Plus at $408,200.
The rocket-ship-quick Audi shares its engine and gearbox with its Italian thoroughbred cousin (both Lamborghini and Audi are owned by German-based Volkswagen Group), though in the Huracan’s case, it gets a raft of modifications to the engine's top-end and exhaust system.
When it comes to new-generation models, Lamborghini does things differently in the way it approaches good old-fashioned lineage.
Unlike, say, Porsche, which has maintained the 911 bloodline for decades, the Huracan’s predecessor, the Gallardo, has blasted off into the history books – never to be seen again.
Throughout it’s decade-long production run, Lamborghini built 14,022 Gallardos, making it the most successful model ever in the company’s celebrated 51-year history. Lamborghini has stated that it expects the new, more affordable Huracan to be the brand's best-selling car of all time, eclipsing the Gallardo.
It’s not like the Lamborghini’s head of design, Filippo Perini, didn’t know this – despite some fundamental similarities with the overall form, the Huracan is such a breathtakingly beautiful car that when viewed side-by-side, the outgoing Gallardo looks decidedly boxy and one-dimensional in comparison.
All the edges have been rounded off, so it’s deliciously curvaceous with wonderfully balanced proportions and clean surfaces, yet there’s still an intimidating element about the Huracan, especially when viewed from the rear.
It looks small sitting on the tarmac at the Fuji Speedway in Japan, where we’ve come to sample the Huracan, but climb aboard and you’re treated to a state-of-the-art fighter jet-like cockpit with more space up front than the Gallardo, and, dare I say, the Aventador.
And that’s exactly what Perini and his creative team set out to achieve when they first sketched the LB 724 concept that would become the Huracan.
“We wanted a new Lamborghini with a clear and extreme design, but at the same time, daily useable,” Perini said.
The dashboard is totally dedicated to the driver, a feature highlighted by a new steering wheel design that houses the all-important paddleshifters. And within easy reach are the turn signal buttons, windscreen wiper switch and drive mode selector.
It’s all very functional, except for the turn signal switch which is just so counter-intuitive to the 100-year-old signal stalk design that I kept reaching for the imaginary stalk every time I was approaching pit lane.
The big TFT screen behind the steering wheel looks more like a high-resolution video game display, but with three multi-coloured interchangeable screens, it seems perfectly at home in the Huracan.
One screen places a large tachometer front and centre for track days, a second screen displays critical speed, rev and gear position, while the other encompasses the navigation display.
Not only is it $27,000 less than the outgoing Gallardo, but the Huracan gets a raft of extra features such as a front lifting system. Also standard is Magnetorhelogical suspension, fully electric and heated seats, satellite navigation and Bluetooth connectivity, which other markets don't get.
Despite the fresh approach, its heavily inspired by the Aventador – meaning there are a few too many switches and toggles to get a handle on at a glance.
If you use reading glasses, then you’re going to need them, especially for the switch set to the left of the steering (on left-hand drive versions), which may as well have been inscribed with hieroglyphics.
But we didn’t come all the way to Japan’s iconic Fuji Speedway just to scrutinise Lamborghini’s more sophisticated approach to styling – we wanted to know if the Huracan is a better car than the model it replaces.
What we didn’t count on was torrential rain.
For those who get the Lamborghini nomenclature in regards to its model range – the Huracan LP610-4 was always going to be a more potent weapon right from the get-go.
It’s just simple mathematics; 610 minus 560 equals 50 – that’s how much more horsepower the 5.2-litre mid-mounted V10 engine now makes (or 448kW). Torque is up too, by 20Nm over the Gallardo LP560-4 (to 560Nm).
The extra grunt combined with a lightweight carbonfibre and aluminium chassis is enough to fire the Huracan to 100km/h in a claimed 3.2sec and zero to 200km/h is a rocket ship-like 9.9 seconds.
That’s two tenths better than the quickest Gallardo could ever manage, and according to Lamborghini test driver, Marco Apicella, it’s two seconds per lap faster around Nardo than the fastest iteration of the road-going Gallardo, the LP570-4 Super Trofeo Stradale.
Perhaps even more critical to the car’s increased performance is the new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that replaces the clumsy e-gear six-speed semi-automatic of the Gallardo. There are now nanoseconds between shifts instead of frustrating pauses of previous semi-auto box.
Time to fire up the V10 and put it all to the test, only this time using the same weapons-select style red lever, first seen in the Aventador.
Typically, there’s a big burst or revs when the V10 catches, before settling down to a softer mid-tempo idle that seems more polished than the previous iteration.
Once on the move, the car feels instantly more refined. The gear changes are completely jerk-free and more Audi-like than a full-blown Italian supercar with all its foibles.
There’s a real sense of unity with the Huracan. The ride seems well sorted, the steering is quicker (with less lock required) and the throttle and brake pedal weighting is beautifully progressive.
It’s so easy to pilot and so comfortable that this may be the first Lamborghini in history to pass the daily commute test - at least in the softest Strada setting (that's Italian for 'road') .
Flick the lever to Sport, and it’s like your Huracan just grew a new set of horns. Now you know you’re driving a proper V10 Lamborghini supercar itching to be let loose, complete with that thunderous mechanical racket going on behind your head from the mid-mounted ten-cylinder engine.
Give it a boot full and the Huracan instantly morphs into the raging bull its founder intended his cars to be. The revs build so fast that until you’re used the pace, you’re better off leaving the dual-clutch transmission to auto shift. It will still speed-shift at 7800rpm before shifting up.
The gearing itself is superbly calibrated with short, sharp shifts down low and longer gearing up higher. Dial up the race-bred Corsa mode and manual paddleshifting is mandatory and the shifts are more aggressive, but nothing quite so brutal as the Aventador delivers, even in its mildest setting.
Thanks to a more flexible power curve, there’s more torque from the V10 coming in lower down the rev range, so you can drive harder out the corners than was ever possible in the Gallardo, even in the monsoon conditions that plagued much of our track session.
On the soaking wet track, the Huracan’s AWD system proved a valuable skid-saving asset at speed, as well as a very effective launch control device, as we found out on a during a standing start speed run on Fuji Speedway’s famously long straightaway of 1.5 kilometres.
With the transmission in Sport mode and auto shifting, the Huracan still managed 213km/h before braking due to poor visibility and potential aquaplaning spots. Check out the video to get an idea of what I'm talking about here.
In dry conditions, Fuji Speedway’s 1.5km straight will allow the road-going Huracan to hot speeds of 290km/h before braking for the hairpin at turn one. In such torrential conditions it’s a different story entirely.
The standard issue carbon-ceramic brakes provide huge stopping power, even after countless high-speed laps during the earlier dry sessions, with no brake fade reported by any of the drivers.
Oddly enough, stepping up to the Corsa mode, (the most extreme of the three driving modes), doesn’t provide the same kind of mind-blowing performance jump we experienced going from Strada to Sport.
The shift speed and throttle response are certainly sharper, but the real benefit is in the fact that the transmission won’t auto shift – meaning you can clobber the 8500rpm redline and experience the V10’s symphony in all its glory.
For a complete test of the Huracan, we will have to wait until we get the car on Australian roads and conditions, but the early signs are this is the most broadly capable car Lamborghini has ever produced, and one that should outperform the model it has replaced in every way, shape and form.