After Porsche 918 and Mercedes AMG GT R, the brand-new Lamborghini Huracán Performante is now officially the record holder on the Nordschleife. With an astonishing production car lap time of 06:52:01. Causing some serious Nurburgring-Sting for the competition. I chased the Italian super-sportscar around Imola race track in Bologna.
When German efficiency and the Italian lust for life are combined in one car, you’ll get the Lamborghini Huracán Performante. And while the regular Huracán is already a very potent sportscar, the Performante (= performance) cooks up an even fiercer storm. Entailing a weight loss of an astonishing 40kgs, a power and torque increase of 21kW and 40Nm. And the addition of Ala. Don’t worry, there is no extremist connection here. Ala is Italian for wings, and the abbreviation for Aerodynamica Lamborghini Atta. Describing active aero parts in the new Lambo, which create 750% (!) more down force than a normal Huracán. The rear wing is a technological marvel. In Corsa (= track) mode its flaps can be open on one side and closed on the other. Lamborghini calls this aero vectoring. Forcing more air onto the inside wheel for higher cornering speeds. At the same time the front wing flap opens during acceleration to direct air underneath the car and closes while braking to force air over the wing to create down force. Similiar to an airplane during starting and landing process. And all this happens automatically – in Corsa mode.
To be honest, it didn’t make too much sense during the gesture-rich press conference. But it does now. Still overwhelmed by the presence of all those lean and slick Performantes in the pitlane, I am climbing into the orange one, which the insanely attractive Lambo girls have allocated for me. The emotional, naturally aspirated V10 sound is massaging my eardrums. I click the switch in the steering wheel from Strada via Sport to Corsa and follow the pace car onto the almost five kilometre long Imola racetrack. Or to be exact: Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari. A circuit that became too dangerous for F1 in 1994, when both Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna had fatal accidents there during the San Marino Grand Prix.
My Performante is screaming behind the Italian lead car driver, trying to follow his barely understandable commands on the radio (Is he really speaking English?). Finally I am just concentrating on watching his brake lights. I don’t feel the active aerodynamics, but they are obviously doing their job well. No matter how fast I approach a turn, brake in or accelerate out, the car is of a very forgiving nature. Active aero parts and 4WD result in spectacular racing abilities. And the soundtrack is genuine supercar. The Performante gives you wings, without having to down a famous Austrian caffeine soft drink. This is the sportiest Lamborghini ever. After half my hot laps, I am joining the Italian pace car driver for a round. Remembering his gearshifts and braking points. Turning my second set of laps into even more fun.
In 1998 the Volkswagen group bought Lamborghini and as with Bentley, another purchase, they kept the spirit and identity of the brand. Bentley is still British and Lamborghini as Italian as its founder, who was a master mechanic.
After WWII Ferruccio Lamborghini was building tractors out of spare parts. And he was so successful that he could afford a Ferrari. One day he brought his 250GT in for a service at the Maranello headquarters after finding out that the abrasive clutch in his expensive sportscar was identical to the one in his tractors. When he asked Ferrari owner Enzo for a proper replacement part, he replied: ’You’re just a stupid tractor builder and you don’t know anything about sportscars’.
Like any Italian would do, Ferruccio spit on the floor and stormed out. Four months later he unveiled his very own sportscar, the 350 GTV. The year was 1963 and Lamborghini was born. The most famous Lambo of them all was the 1960s Miura. Saudi King Fahd, Prince Faisal, Rod Stewart, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra all owned one. And latter made the famous remark: ‘You buy a Ferrari if you want to be somebody. You buy a Lamborghini when you are somebody’.
At Lamborghini looks have always been as important as the performance. The newest model fully adheres to that commitment. A model of the legendary Miura is on Lamborghini chief designer Mitja Borkert’s desk, right next to the obligatory espresso cup. ‘Taste is timeless’, the German ex-Porsche designer says, ‘and the Miura DNA is in each and every new Lamborghini. He loves hexagonal shapes. Half a hexagon is a Y, continues Mitja. And those are appearing all over the Performante, from the wheels to the LED lights. Mitja loves flying and motorcycling. That’s why he incorporated both of his hobbies into the Performante design. He describes the car as a motorcycle with four wheels, emphasized by the high exhaust with two pipes, just like on a superbike. And the switches inside the Performante look just like the ones in an aeroplane cockpit.
Since 2016 the German ex-Porsche man is the new Lamborghini chief designer. Having been largely responsible for the Macan, Cayenne and 718 Boxster’s looks he is now, together with the wind and his creative team, sculpting the Lambo lines.
The car is fresh and young. Appealing to buyers, who are about 10 to 15 years younger than the competition.
Another design detail Mitja wants to incorporate in each and every new Lambo is the Italian flag on the sides. Proud to be Italian. And what’s next? The Lamborghini Urus, like the Porsche Cayenne, whose design Mitja strongly influenced, will be an SUV with legendary sportscar genes. ‘You’ve never seen an SUV like this before’, beams Mitja. Looking at the Performante I have to believe this guy.
Lamborghini Huracán Performante
Engine 5.2-l. V10 naturally aspirated engine, paired with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission & 4WD
Power 471kW and 600 Nm
Top Speed 325 km/h
0-100km/h 2.9 seconds
0-200km/h 8.9 seconds
Nurburgring lap time 06:52:01
Performante driving modes:
Strada – traction and stability
Sport – RWD oriented, improved fun and easier drifting
Corsa – focus on performance and handling behaviour