David Khoo settles into the eye of the Lamborghini Huracan as this storm-front hits the Sepang Circuit
Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia - As much as exotics these days have been designed to be rather commendable daily drivers, their natural element is still on a race circuit, or at very least an area in which they are permitted unfettered use of their tremendous potential.
Naturally, pose-worthy and screensaver value aside, and notwithstanding the occasional weekend rampage down Orchard Road, these exotics are still super sportscars at heart, which means they have been engineered to the highest degree of dynamic performance perfection... so it would be a real shame not to put a car like the Lamborghini Huracan through its paces around the Sepang International Circuit when the opportunity arose, especially since it is one of TopGear Singapore's Cars of the Year 2014.
With its mini-Aventador visage and sleek sharp styling, the Huracan (or Hurricane) is unmistakeably a child of the brand and the first of the models under Audi AG (part of the larger VW Group) to receive the 'modular matrix system' hybrid chassis that combines aluminium components with large elements of lightweight carbonfibre reinforced polymer (CFRP), the latter of which is a material Lamborghini has cultivated a legendary expertise in over these years.
Compared to its Gallardo predecessor's ASF (aluminium space-frame) construction, the Huracan's hybrid chassis tips the scales at under 200kg. At an earlier technical preview of the Huracan, Audi AG Board Member for Technical Development Professor-Doctor Ulrich Hackenberg tells us, "The Huracan is the first of a new breed of high-end sportscars to be built on this new platform, which will allow the group to build several high-end sportscar concepts with distinct personalities on a single technical basis.'
Fans of the brand will quickly realise there's no display back through which to admire the naturally-aspirated V10 engine. Also, the Gallardo's rear spoiler that actuated at speed is gone, since the engineers were tasked with achieving the desired aerodynamics figures without recourse to a spoiler, which results in an altogether cleaner silhouette.
Although a glass exhibition case for the engine is available (complete with blinging carbonfibre embellishments for the engine cover components), we think these matte slats are far more ominous (what are they hiding??), which translates to a more menacing road presence.
The sports buckets are snug without being too tight and there's surprisingly good visibility and cabin room compared to the Gallardo it replaces ' the latter impression is probably due to the finer and more slender console architecture. Alcantara and leather are in abundance as well, as the former clads the strategic areas to eliminate distracting reflective glare from the sun's rays when you're driving at 100 per cent.
There's a nice attention to detail that could almost be regarded as borderline fussy, but add immeasurably to the exotic's ambience, since after all, the devil is in the details for such exotic machines. Needless to say, the colours and materials can be fully customised to suit different tastes.
Like the Aventador, the Huracan features a missile-launch trigger switch that resides under a 'safety' flap, while the switchgear take the form of toggle switches ' not surprising consider the brand likes to draw aesthetic inspiration from military jet fighters.
Taking centrestage is a 12.3-inch TFT display that can be toggled to show different sets of information ranging from Drive to Mixed and Full Navi. For the track, we left the display in Full Drive mode, with the rev counter taking prime position and the speed displayed in digital format.
A series of gauges detailing the oil pressure, oil temperature and voltmeter is displayed on a narrow TFT display strip, which also doubles as the information display for climate control system.
The 5204cc V10 continues to be proudly naturally-aspirated, but is now mated to a seven-speed LDF (Lamborghini Doppia Frizione) dual-clutch transmission. For the anoraks, the model designation is LP 610-4: 'LP' stands for Longitudinale Posteriore, or Longitudinally-Mounted behind the driver, while '610-4' refers to the V10's 610bhp and the chassis' 4WD drivetrain.
Mounted at the steering wheel's 6 o'clock position is a rocker switch for the ANIMA (Italian for soul), which also stands for 'Adaptive Network Intelligent Management', a range of pre-set personality modes: Strada, Sport and Corsa. Although it was easier to drive the Huracan quickly in 'Sport', it was far more rewarding in 'Corsa', since it required a higher degree of concentration and finesse to extract more from this less inhibitive driving mode.
The shifts are now lightning quick and swiftly slurred (almost too clinically efficient), but we miss the shift-shock of the Gallardo's E-gear system ' driving enthusiasts appreciate that the shifts in such sportscars are intended to be fast before they are smooth, a duty the E-Gear fulfilled well.
Unfortunately, with most of such cars destined to be used on Singapore streets, we reckon the LDF's slickly-slurred trait is engineered into the transmission to appeal to this majority. The steering is light but feelsome, and you always know what the Pirellis are up to when you begin to load the lateral gs.
We're told the new model is faster than the Gallardo it replaces, and it certainly makes light and smooth work of the circuit, even in Corsa, as it is easy to get into a fluid groove with the Huracan. The standard carbon-ceramic brakes are eye-strainingly powerful, and allow us to brake late into corners.
Traditionally, the Lambo 4WD system tends to be more rear-biased (it will start frittering away power to the front if it senses the rear lose grip) but the Huracan seems more neutral than tail-wagging even in 'Corsa', which we reckon may be less fun but more effective in setting a faster time. Besides, there's always the ESC override for those who want to exert full control over the car's handling.
PHOTOS LAMBORGHINI / DAVID KHOO
Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4
Engine: 5204cc, V10, naturally-aspirated
Transmission: 7spd LDF dual-clutch
Top speed: >325km/h
Fuel consumption: 12.5l/100km