You’re right – we’ve been here before.
Lamborghini has already created a track-biased Huracan variant in the form of the Performante. One that briefly held the Nürburgring Nordschleife production car lap record, and which was widely regarded as being the range’s equivalent of a Ferrari 488 Pista or McLaren 675LT.
But here’s another, experienced in prototype form. The 2021 Lamborghini STO is set to be the performance pinnacle of the Huracan range, and a fitting finale to Lamborghini’s most successful model of all time.
It will be much more extreme than the Performante, and pretty much anything else in the segment.
STO stands for Super Trofeo Omologata – as in homologation – with this being, as close as possible, a road-legal version of the Super Trofeo race car.
Not that it will actually get the bragging rights of being the quickest on-paper Huracan. Like every other member of the family, it uses a 5.2-litre V10 engine, this producing the same 470kW peak as in the Performante.
Torque has actually fallen slightly – 565Nm compared to 600Nm. That’s because the STO is, like its competition sisters, rear-driven rather than all-wheel drive.
Lamborghini claims a 3.0-second 0–100km/h time and a 9.0-second 0–200km/h time – both a tenth shy of the all-paw Performante. Lower gearing has also dropped the STO’s top speed to 310km/h; a reduction of 15km/h.
None of which is going to make any difference on the STO’s favoured track environment, where it is comfortably quicker than any of its licence-plate-wearing predecessors.
Lamborghini says that on the ultra-fast Daytona International Speedway, the STO’s 1:48.9 lap is nearly three seconds quicker than the Performante, and just two-and-a-half seconds shy of the time set by a Huracan Evo GT3 race car.
The already svelte Performante didn’t leave much mass to trim, but Lamborghini’s engineers have tried their best. Losing the all-wheel-drive system has saved around 30kg, with the STO’s magnesium alloy wheels, titanium arches and a one-piece carbon-fibre front clamshell adding to the diet.
The cabin has been diligently stripped, losing carpeting and with a thinner windscreen claimed to weigh 20 per cent less than the regular Huracan.
Weight has been added elsewhere, though, including a standard rear-mounted half roll cage, meaning the STO’s overall saving is 45kg compared to the Performante.
And although Lambo’s stated 1339kg dry weight is impressive, it is still 110kg more than the 1229kg McLaren claims for the 765LT. That’s all-carbon structures for ya.
But Lamborghini’s engineers are prouder of the huge downforce the STO can produce. It doesn’t have active aerodynamic elements, but the combination of front elements, a sizeable diffuser and a manually adjustable rear wing can create up to 450kg at 280km/h, with a substantial amount of that figure available at the lower speeds the car is more likely to encounter on-track. For reference, the Performante made its peak 350kg at 310km/h.
My drive takes place on the handling course at Porsche’s huge Nardò test centre in southern Italy. This is a 6.1km track often cited by chassis engineers as their favourite non-motorsport circuit, with a variety of corners including a spectacularly fast left-hander at the end of the kilometre-long main straight.
You’ll likely be entirely unsurprised that the sonorous V10 remains the starring feature. Output might be unchanged, but the STO gets both a more aggressive throttle map and a turned-up top-end soundtrack. One that reserves its angriest noises for the rev counter’s red zone.
Accelerator response is instantaneous in a way that even the snappiest turbocharged rivals can’t match. And although there isn’t much low-down brawn – peak torque comes at 6500rpm – the STO’s lungs are deep enough to allow it to be shifted some way short of the 8500rpm rev-cut without ever feeling less than outrageously quick.
The STO’s suspension is stiffer than that of any previous road-going Huracan, with firmer bushes, new anti-roll bars and recalibrated MagneRide active dampers. These are managed, along with other dynamic settings, by the ANIMA controller that has three new modes. STO is for road use, Trofeo for dry track, and Pioggia for wet conditions.
The prototype shared the trait of lesser Huracans for light steering with a marked lack of resistance on initial turn-in. Trust builds quickly, especially at speeds where the aerodynamic contribution builds, but it still felt like the one area that needed more work.
The STO uses a fixed-ratio steering rack rather than the variable-ratio helm of lesser Huracans, so responses are more linear. It also gets the rear-wheel steering of the Huracan Evo, this working invisibly.
But once turned into a corner, and with the chassis loaded up, the prototype instilled almost total confidence. Grip levels from the track-biased Bridgestone Potenzas were huge, but the finely poised handling balance was more impressive.
There’s more than enough power to persuade the Huracan’s tail to slide – Trofeo mode allowing significant yaw angles before stability-control intervention. But the neater trick is its sensitivity to weight transfer, the scalpel-sharp accelerator making it easy to change the car’s cornering line with even delicate inputs.
Trusting the downforce requires a leap of faith – its growing presence doesn’t add any weight to the steering – but once trust is established, the effect isn’t far short of magical, creating huge grip and allowing Nardò’s faster corners to be taken at seemingly impossible velocities. Yet, the STO is actually more fun with the rear wing in its less aggressive settings, trading some of the high-speed assistance for more adjustability in the slower stuff.
The upgraded brakes are also worthy of praise, Lamborghini fitting motorsport-spec CCM-R carbon discs, which have four times the thermal conductivity of regular carbon-ceramics and offer 25 per cent more stopping power. These proved tireless under even the hardest use, and were soon turning what had felt like daring braking points into scaredy-cat ones.
There is also a dashboard display to report on disc and brake fluid temperatures. Only the biggest stops turned these briefly from green to yellow.
There’s no doubt the finished STO will be a circuit-devouring weapon, but one that is likely to feel crude and compromised when asked to deal with the real world for too long.
Anybody lucky enough to be in the position to consider one should be planning to give it regular on-track exercise. Despite what the renderings make clear will be spectacular looks, this one’s more about go than show.