If ever there was a time to be nervous, I guess this would be it. But I’m not. It’s just a car, I say to myself. But that’s a lie. This is not your ordinary car. This is one of the first Lamborghini Huracans to make landfall in South Africa – and I’m about to lift the start button’s cover and get proceedings under way.
But first I make the time to take in my unique environment. This is unlike any cabin I’ve ever been in, so while local brand manager David Tarry-Smith talks Huracan minutiae, my eyes take a stroll. Lamborghini’s model names may be inspired by famous fighting bulls, but this cabin is all fighter jet cockpit. From the red starter button cover to what passes as a gearshift; the row of gated switches controlling windows, hazards and the like; and the hexagonal detailing seen on the steering wheel boss, the air vents and the grille-like dash. Not imposing at all.
Raw power, 1; Green Beans, 0
Foot solidly planted on the brake, I finally punch the start button – and all hell breaks loose. More-cylinders-than-anyone-needs engines are rapidly losing the battle to tree-hugging greenies, but Lamborghini seems prepared to fight the Belgian suits to the bitter end. There’s a naturally aspirated V10 driving this wedge and the boof-boom-pow on start-up is something to keep on repeat. But we have a date with Clarens so, with a tentative tap of the accelerator, Bethlehem’s left in our dust.
The initial kilometers are easy-going, immediately at odds with anything one might imagine from Sant’Agata’s machinery. Huracan’s immediate stand-out feature is its absolute drivability; this is the type of car that would not be out of place on the suburban run, but our early acquaintance is nevertheless tentative. I don’t want to be ‘that driver’ who puts a tyre wrong, so it’s the default ‘Strada’ in auto mode for me, thanks. Huracan’s deviances from its predecessor, the immensely popular Gallardo, are numerous, but one of the key changes is its new seven-speed twin-clutch transmission called Doppio Frizione as a replacement for the automated six-speed manual of old. Changes are smooth and unintrusive, while the V10 burbles menacingly behind our backs, its chatter rarely intruding into the cabin as towering Nissan Micras and Toyota Fortuners do a good job of overtaking us.
Turning off the main route towards Fouriesburg and the Golden Gate region of the Free State allows us to scratch a little deeper beneath Huracan’s surface. A quick tap of the switch on the bottom of the steering wheel and we’re in Sport mode. The gearbox holds onto its gears for slightly longer and the noises from the V10 are a lot more insistent. I’m a softy at heart and oblige to the car’s prodding. The extra-long steering wheel shift paddles are called in to action as we tear off into the brown distance at a giddying speed. Huracan, with its smoother shifts and linear power delivery, is definitely not as hard-edged as Gallardo, but the rush to the horizon is no less exhilarating, the dryness on the tongue no less telling.
Strada, Sport, Corse
Former race driver and resident Lamborghini ‘artist’ Reghard Roets swaps seats with me. ‘Is this the part where you show me how a Huracan should be driven?’ I ask. A grinning ‘yes’ his sole reply, in Roets’ hands, Huracan’s slipped into Corse and traction control and other ‘driver aids’ are tossed out for good measure. The underlying awareness of all-wheel drive is ever-present, but that offers few reasons for the incredible degree of grip on offer, nor the alarming lack of body roll. In a moment of madness, I realise the seat’s side bolsters could be more prominent and to a better job of hugging me in. But comfort’s the last thing I need. I’m such a sadist: the Huracan’s being caned, and I’m grinning like a dummy.
All too soon, the session comes to an end, but city-friendly features such as the ability to soak up innumerable bumps through its double wishbones (there’s a nose-lifting function for those gigantic speed humps) and it’s muted putter at suburban speeds (Huracan’s looks do all the talking) shine through. Huracan’s readiness to comply with the mundane is extraordinary, but beneath the surface is a honed driving machine that is unlikely to back down from any kind of challenge with that V10, snappy carbon ceramic brakes and elegant handling as key munitions in its arsenal. As Gallardo before it, Huracan is expected to perform the ‘supercar for all seasons’ role within Sant’Agata’s portfolio; here, even in wintery Clarens, it’s summer all year round.
NEED TO KNOW
Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4
PRICE R4.75m ENGINE 5904cc 40v V10, 449kW @ 8250rpm, 560Nm @ 6500rpm TRANSMISSION 7-speed dual-clutch, four-wheel drive SUSPENSION Double wishbones all-round LENGTH/WIDTH/HEIGHT 4 459/1 924/1 165mm WEIGHT 1 422kg PERFORMANCE 3.2sec 0-100kph, 325kph top speed, 12.5l/100km, 290g/km ON SALE Now
Watch the video below to see some of Huracan’s gadgets in action: