Lamborghini doesn’t get enough credit for its recent cars. That’s nowhere more evident than with the Huracan Performante, which is without fail not only the best Lambo ever made, but also the best car in its class. By far.
With every car that goes through our garage in Brisbane, there is an audio recording yours truly makes while driving that helps me remember all the bits that were loved and disliked about a particular car, so that when it comes to writing it up at a later date, it feels fresh and accurate. With the Performante, the rather short recording was just a lot of F-words.
Honestly, if Lambo had decided to call this the ‘Huracan Holy F#$k Performante’, it would have been right on the money. Right at this very moment, you can walk into a Lamborghini dealer and order a car that defies all that we’ve come to know as possible from a road-legal supercar. It has not only smashed the bar when it comes to dynamic competency, it has raised it so high that it will be interesting to see if Ferrari can match it with its ‘Speciale’ version of the 488 expected in the next 12 months.
The basics of the powertrain are pretty much the same as the standard car, but with an extra 22kW from the 5.2-litre V10 (which is built by Audi) that has been around in one shape or form since the Gallardo. That technically makes the Performante an LP640-4, but officially it’s just Performante.
The updated exhaust system creates an audible experience more akin to a GT3 race car than a Huracan. It's deafeningly loud in all the right ways. You cannot extract this sort of aural pleasure from any hybrid or turbocharged engine. Thank Lambo for sticking with this naturally aspirated V10 engine for that little bit longer.
But even without turbos or electric motors to assist, it will go from 0–100km/h in just 2.9 seconds, a good 300ms faster than the regular Huracan and also faster than the twin-turbo Ferrari 488 and matches the McLaren 720S. That improvement in acceleration is due to an improved AWD system that sees the Performante push more power to the front for take-off than before.
Lamborghini smashed the Nürburgring lap record with the Performante when the car was released last year. It was subsequently beaten by the Porsche 911 GT2RS (which is at least a good $175K more expensive), but it remains not only quicker than anything Ferrari or McLaren has ever thrown around the ’Ring, but it’s also the fastest naturally aspirated car to have ever graced the green hell.
A lot of that has to do with Lambo’s patented ALA system – a series of active aerodynamic systems both at the front and rear of the vehicle, which open and close special vents that modify the airflow for substantially improved cornering grip.
Compared to the standard Huracan, the Performante has a staggering 750 per cent more downforce than that car. But it’s not just straight downforce, it's actually aero vectoring, with the rear wing able to close either the left or right air channels to produce 50Nm of torque that helps turn the car.
For example, if you’re turning left, the right side of the wing allows airflow and the left side shuts to create air resistance. Not all that different to how aeroplanes operate in the air. The front lip also closes its airflow channel to push the nose of the car down for better front grip into corners.
Of course, you need to actually track the car to get the most out of it. Something we very much enjoyed doing at the Performante’s international launch in Imola mid last year. But here in the extremely hot conditions of Mount Nebo and Glorious offered up by Brisbane’s summer, the king of the Huracan range not only met our expectations, but shattered them to pieces.
We have tested the standard Huracan, the rear-wheel-drive Huracan, the Ferrari 488 and plenty of McLarens and other supercars on the very same road, and to be perfectly fair, the Performante is the new king. It does things that seem impossible, it grips where there is no grip, and it accelerates out of corners with such ferocity and control that you start believing it’s actually you and not the car. There are even moments that you may wonder if you missed your calling in F1.
Sadly, for you and me, this is all the brilliance of Lambo’s engineers. This car is as close to dynamic perfection as we have ever experienced. It shows tiny hints of understeer at the very limit of its grip, but at that point it's more driver error than the car.
The active aero doesn’t work at slow speeds, of course. And it’s impossible to say how much of an effect it has when driving with vigour on the mountainous roads that we tested it on, but it’s on a whole new level of excellence, regardless.
It’s important to note that up until around seven- or eight-tenths, the Performante is not all that different to drive than the standard Huracan. It’s when you start pushing all the way to ten-tenths that the Performante turns into the Diablo himself, while the standard car turns into a heap of understeery mess. In that sense, the two cars are worlds apart. The Performante is much closer to the Audi R8 V10+ in its driving feel than the regular Huracan.
Going around corners flat out in the Performante is an experience that every car-loving enthusiast should feel once in their life. Everything about it is savagely awesome, from the gearshifts to the optional dynamic steering system (which you really need), the seats, the super-special Pirelli tyres, the brakes, the naturally aspirated V10 engine… Everything. It’s the complete package.
In terms of ride comfort and being able to use this as a daily, we would argue that you really shouldn't because every kilometre spent in this should be at ten-tenths for maximum enjoyment. But keep it in Strada (street) mode and it's pretty docile (well, as docile as something that looks like an Apache helicopter can be) and easily manageable as a daily, thanks to its reasonably smooth ride offered up by the optional magnetic suspension.
We recommend you option the lift kit (which is annoyingly not standard in this car like the regular Huracan) that helps raise the nose whenever required. A simple switch to Corsa (race) will set the car up for maximum attack.
The Performante may not have the ‘pick-up’ effect of the Aventador’s unbeatable road presence, but it still turns plenty of heads, if not just for its hyper-aggressive stance (which, as Lambo is keen to point out, is not an option) helped along by that giant rear wing and the Italian flag elegantly painted on the car’s sides.
Our particular test car was optioned with the super-special Grigio Titans matt colour at a whopping $21,600, with another $8100 forked out for the Loge forged 20-inch rims with black central locking. Speaking of which, as you may notice from the photos, all four of the Lambo centre wheel caps fell out during our drive, with some kind of liquid sizzling out of the central lock, pushing the caps free. We were certainly pushing it to the limit and the weather wasn’t helping.
If we had to fault the car, it would be mostly about the insane options list (listed at the bottom of the review) and the interior, which although it has been improved with a much higher quality display than before (as well as Apple CarPlay), is still packaged with some flimsy switchgear that tends to feel a little underwhelming after some time.
Nonetheless, whatever you may think of Lamborghini or those who buy them, there is no denying the Huracan Performante is at the very top of its class, with unbeatable dynamics and design and character that will see it become a future classic.
When critics and fans alike look back in 20-30 years’ time and think of the absolute best and last of the naturally aspirated supercars, this will be it.
- Lifting system – $5090
- Exterior paint in Grigio Titans – $21,600
- Magnetorheologic suspension – $4860
- Lamborghini Dynamic Steering – $3500
- Carbon ceramic braking system with red painted calipers – $2120
- Loge forged 20-inch rims with black central locking – $8100
- Branding packaging – $1400
- Garage door opener – $600
- Cruise control system – $1400
- Bluetooth connectivity – $1410
- Anti-theft alarm system – $1100
- Sensonum sound system – $5800
- Travel and smoker package – $900
- Interior stitching in Rosso Alala – $1000
- Tyre pressure monitor – $1700
- Navigation system with Apple CarPlay – $5700
- Interior Sportivo bicolour with Alcantara – $5100
- Performante Laser Engraved Interior in Rosso Alala – $5100
- Dark chrome package for forged composites interior – $4060