In Style + Design

Test Drive: Lamborghini Huracan Peformante

There are experiences that are understandably terrifying – sky diving, drinking Absinthe, running from bulls in Pamplona – and then there is the Lamborghini Huracan Performante. If you’re lucky enough to have driven the standard Lambo Huracan before you’ll know that it is a frighteningly fast machine that makes hilarious noises come from its exhaust pipes, its passengers and even its driver.

The new and absurdly improved Performante version is so much faster, particularly around corners, that it simply defies logic, and good sense. Normally, when a super car company makes an uprated, performance version of an already amazing vehicle in its fleet, the changes are incremental, to the point where you’d have to be slightly mental to want one over the original.

The Performante, however, is something else. Yes, it keeps the same huge 5.2-litre V10 engine as the basic Huracan, but it somehow manages to squeeze an extra 22kW out of it, which – in conjunction with clever new all-wheel-drive software – means it can now hit 100km/h a good 0.3 of a second faster, smashing that mark in just 2.9 seconds.

Truly, it is hard to explain what going from zero to 100 in less than three seconds feels like without resorting to grunting noises and eye-rolling, so we won’t even try.

The new exhaust system on this car is also so much louder than the already stupendous Huracan that it verges on being embarrassing. You drive past people and they look at you like the sound wave you’ve just caused has eviscerated the elastic in their underwear.

It is stupidly loud, to the point where not only will highway patrol officers anywhere with 20km hear you coming, they will know you are speeding even before they get out of bed that morning.

And speeding you almost certainly will be, because the zero to 100km/h time is merely the slightest indication of just how much quicker this Performante really is.

There is a famous race track in Germany, known as the Nurburgring (or the Green Hell) where all the world’s sportiest car companies go to test, and compare, their cars. Holding the lap record here is a badge of honour that is argued over at furious pace and huge expense.

The Huracan Performante recently smashed the lap record for production cars (meaning those you can actually buy and register for the road) into tiny pieces, which was impressive enough. But what really boggled the mind was that the time it set – six minutes and 52 seconds – was a whopping 28 seconds faster than the standard Lamborghini Huracan on which it is based.

Now remember that it doesn’t have  a new engine, nor rocket boosters, and you start to realise just how astonishing a leap this car has made.

It achieved that feat mainly through the use of ALA (Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva), a form of active aerodynamics that has given this car a staggering 750 per cent more downforce than the original Huracan.

What this means, in practice, is that when you go into a fast corner, cunning air flows are pushing you into the ground, or more specifically pushing the tyre that needs the grip at any particular moment into the road, so that you can corner at absolutely absurd speeds while still feeling completely in control.

In theory, although we surely wouldn’t try this, you could take 45km/h-posted bends at 130km/h, and feel completely and utterly glued to the road, and almost safe.

This is, in essence, what race cars feel like; pinned so securely to the Earth that you can push them beyond the limits that you normally have to contend with in road cars. And yet the Perfomante does  this on public roads, and does it so easily that you suddenly feel like some kind of driving God.

Yes, there are trade-offs. The Performante has also sought speed by doing away with all extraneous weight, meaning that it feels as hard as it is fast. The seats are sharply firm, and even the floor has solid, aluminium floor mats (ostensibly for better grip for your driving shoes), so sitting in this car feels not unlike climbing into a taut torture chamber of some kind.

And there is also the price tag to contend with – a whopping $483,866.

But when you drive the Performante, these concerns simply disappear, because all you can think about is how fast you are going, and how unfeasible it is. How hard it is to comprehend what this car is capable of, and why it leaves you so thrilled, and yet so terrified at the same time.

Truly, this is a Lamborghini unlike any that has come before it. And it could be, right now, the very best super car that money can buy.

Published 30 April, 2018