by Michael Butler
We can remember a time when a Lamborghini was considered a flashy but undynamic supercar - a car that could go fast in a straight line but lost out to the competition around the bends. Those days are long gone: today two Lamborghini cars occupy the top four spots for the fastest production cars to have ever lapped the famous Nurburgring, and the Huracan Performante, considered a baby Lambo, sits at number four, besting supremely capable cars such as the Porsche 918 hypercar, and even its bigger sibling the Lamborghini Aventador LP 750-4 Superveloce. So Lamborghini has finally shaken the undeserving stereotype, and the Performante, which sports impressive race-bred tech such as active aero, carbon-ceramic brakes (and more carbon composite than you can shake a hundred dollar bill at) has proven once again that Lamborghini not only knows how to build a fast car, but knows how to build some of the most dynamic supercars the motoring world has ever seen.
The Huracan Performante was first revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in 2017 and gained updated features such as new lightweight technologies, active aero, a new chassis setup, and all-wheel-drive. The high performance of the already impressive Huracan has narrowed its focus to offering an exhilarating driving experience on and off the track, and features the highest output V10 engine in its class, although that last claim is partly because most of its direct rivals have gone the V8 turbocharged route. "The Huracan Performante is the convergence of technological developments to produce a car delivering perfect performance," says Automobili Lamborghini Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Stefano Domenicali.
When the designers at Lamborghini started work on the Performance, they had one thing on their mind; to make it as aerodynamic and efficient as possible, so the exterior changes are cool and calculated and not exactly fueled by a romantic passion for gracious and flowing lines. The Huracan Performante is built on a hybrid aluminum and carbon fiber frame, and the body that sits on top makes extensive use of aluminum and Lamborghini's award-winning forged composite material. This innovative material gets used on the rear spoiler, rear engine cover, rear bumper and diffuser and results in a significant weight reduction of 88 pounds. One Of the most noteworthy exterior features is the inclusion of Lamborghini's Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva active aero system, which, in combination with Lamborghini's Piattaforma Inerziale management system, can control all the car's electronic systems on the fly - which means the Huracan Performante can control its active aero system in less than 500 milliseconds.
The Huracan Performante sits low and squat on the ground, giving it a seriously purposeful look, and most people will be surprised at just how small it is, especially when compared to its bigger sibling, the Aventador. The Performante measures in with a total length of 177.4 inches and a width of 75.8 inches, growing to 88 inches when you include the wing mirrors. With a height of only 45.9 inches, you can start to imagine how low this car is. The front track is 65.7 inches wide, and 63.8 in the rear - the Performante rolls on a stubby 103.2-inch wheelbase. Lamborghini's extensive use of lightweight materials such as carbon-composite and Aluminum has resulted in a car that's 88 pounds lighter than the standard car, and the official dry weight comes in at 3,047 pounds. With the lightweight V10 in the back, the weight distribution measures 43/57 % front to rear.
Any Lamborghini car with the word 'Performante' stuck to the end of its title better have the show to match the go, and Lamborghini hasn't let their buyers down: the Huracan Performante is offered in a selection of over 15 exotic colors that all fail terribly at making the Performante look ordinary. The color palette for the Performante consists of two oranges, our favorite being the Arancio Borealis Pearl, three whites, blue, yellow, gray-black, green and red. New buyers can select between classic flat, metallic, pearl, or matte, and we believe the Performante looks best in a pearl finish. If we had the money to buy one of these Italian exotics, we would go for one in Giallo Inti Pearl, a stunning yellow, or perhaps Grigio Nimbus Metallic, a menacing dark gray which gives the Huracan a sci-fi spaceship look that's hard to ignore.
When the word performance is in the title of the car's name, then you'd obviously expect something special, and, oh boy, does the Huracan Performante deliver the goods. The Huracan might sit below the Aventador in Lamborghini's supercar range but will blow the doors off of a standard Aventador around the track, most notably the Nurburgring, where it set a new production car lap record of 6:52.01 in 2016. That record has since been toppled by the Lamborghini Aventador LP770-4 SVJ with a stunning time of 6:44.97. The numbers continue to speak for themselves: the 0-62 mph time gets smashed in only 2.9-seconds, 0-124 mph is conquered in 8.9 seconds, and the Performante will go on to a top speed of around 201 mph. Acceleration is brutal, and the linear powerband is appreciated, while highway runs feel more like taxying a fighter jet on a runway.
The 5.2-liter V10 engine found under the engine cover of the Performante is mechanically identical to the unit found in the Audi R8 and makes use of racecar-like features such as a dry-sump oil system, a compression ratio of 12.7:1 and titanium valves, which allow for higher valve lift, which in turn increases performance. When all is said and done, the Huracan Performante delivers a serious blow of 631 hp at 8,000 rpm and 443 lb-ft at 6,500 rpm. A revised air intake system and low-weight exhaust system work together to offer lightning-fast throttle response and a sound that should only be heard when visiting the racetrack. Power is sent to an electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system with rear mechanical self-locking differential. The Huracan Performante benefits from a sharp seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, and its shift characteristics can be altered via the ANIMA system for a more relaxed driving experience around town, and razor-sharp shifts around the track.
As a previous record holder for the fastest production car around the Nurburgring, you best believe that the Huracan Performante can handle. Lamborghini started with a revised suspension setup, which features aluminum double-wishbone suspension springs and dampers, and steel springs and hydraulic dampers. The adaptive MagneRide electromagnetic damper control suspension setup is an available option. The overhauled suspension setup is 10% stiffer than the Huracan coupe; roll stiffness has been improved by 15%. What this translates to is a car that feels like it belongs on a racetrack. Turn in is blindingly sharp, and the Haldex AWD system is expertly balanced so as not to lean towards too much over or understeer, although that can be changed at the turn of a dial. In Strada driving mode, traction and stability are prioritized and should be the go-to for everyday driving. Switching to Sport gives the Performante an RWD bias, and Corsa turns everything to max and transforms the Lambo into a race car for the road. The active aero works a charm and creates an astonishing 750% more vertical downforce than the standard Huracan Coupe.
Serious buyers will understand and forgive the Huracan Performante's less than impressive fuel economy figures - after all, it's a performance-tuned version of an already fast supercar. The revisions to the engine might have bagged the Performante a few extra horses, but it also takes its toll on the gas mileage numbers. The EPA states a number of 13/18/15 mpg city/highway/combined. If treated with the lightest foot possible, there might be a chance of seeing 20 mpg, but with a snarling V10 behind the gas pedal, most owners will grasp at any chance to give it the beans, and the fuel economy will certainly match that enthusiasm. The Huracan Performante is fitted with a 21.9-gallon fuel tank, which should give it an estimated maximum range of 372.3 miles. Not bad for a Nurburgring record holder.
Unlike its German rival, the Audi R8 V10 Plus, which offers a refined and mature interior space that feels more GT than supercar, the Huracan Performante gets a typically Italian cabin that combines Italian flair with cutting edge contemporary design. What we're trying to say is that it looks really cool. Lamborghini has made the most of its relationship with Audi: everything feels tight and rattle-free, and the center console makes perfect sense and is easily reached by both driver and passenger. A new digital dashboard displays the large rev counter, optional navigation, and active driving modes. As with the Aventador SVJ, the Performante gets a fighter-jet like flip switch ignition system, which adds a great sense of occasion to what should otherwise be a very simple procedure. You can also expect to find basics such as power-adjustable seats, reverse camera, heated seats as well as a climate control system.
You'll feel every-bit the racecar driver as soon as you step inside the cabin of the Huracan Performante. The slim, lightweight bucket seats are more comfortable than they look, and offer great support, but we were expecting slightly more side-support. Visibility out the front is good, but taller drivers won't see the hood. Visibility out the rear is almost nonexistent, and drivers will have to rely on the help of a friend, and the reverse camera. Lamborghini doesn't offer any official numbers for leg and headroom, but still, we found that there was enough space for taller drivers, but, as with the Aventador, the driver's footwell is a bit cramped, and could pose a problem for drivers with larger feet.
Lamborghini's choice of interior colors and materials resonates with the weight saving and performance-minded ethos of the rest of the car. The air vents, paddles, door handles, and the center console are all constructed from composite carbon, which resembles modern military camouflage in a way; we think it looks great. What goes better with carbon-fiber than Alcantara? You'll find this premium material everywhere, from the seats to the steering wheel and door cards, and adds to the overall sporty feel of the space. The optional sport seats which offer racing car levels of support feature a "Y" design and are covered in Alcantara, while the standard seats get a combination of leather and Alcantara. The Y design strip running through the seats can be had in a wide range of colors, including yellow, orange, and bright green. Lamborghini's Ad Personam service gives you the option of customizing your interior with any color under the sun.
Pop the rear liftgate, and you won't be greeted by miles and miles of trunk space; you'll be staring straight into the heart of the Huracan Performante's power source. You'll have to go to the front of the car to find any semblance of storage space. Pop the frunk and be prepared to be blown away by a massive 3.5 cubic feet of trunk space. To be fair, we don't think anyone would be expecting any real practical space. You should be able to squeeze a racing helmet and a fireproof suit in there or enough one Dollar bills to make it rain at your favorite Miami strip-club. Inside the cabin, you're limited to a small shelf behind the seats, small door pockets, and a transmission tunnel storage compartment.
Performance dominates the features list, and you won't find much in the way of creature comforts such as auto-dimming rearview mirrors or ventilated seats. Instead, you get everything you need to lap a track faster than most other supercars on the market today. The exterior gets a carbon-fiber and aluminum frame, active aero, and specifically designed bronze 20-inch Narvi forged rims wrapped in P Zero Corsa tires as well as heated power side mirrors. The interior features a model-specific flat-bottomed steering wheel wrapped in Alcantara, heated power seats in leather and Alcantara, and automatic climate control. The center console houses a flip-switch ignition as well as the driving mode selections for Strada, Sport, or Corsa, which is also displayed on the driver's digital cluster. Lamborghini's telemetry system allows the driver to record and replay his or her own performance. A multistage advanced stability program and carbon-ceramic disks are some of the more notable safety features.
The infotainment system on the Huracan Performante, as with the Aventador, is a major disappointment, especially in a car that costs this much. The system has been borrowed from Audi, and interacting with it reveals its age: a jumble of buttons and unresponsive menus make it a task rather than a pleasure to use. Lamborghini has, however, included some contemporary features such as Apple CarPlay, but unfortunately, Android users won't be able to integrate their phones. The navigation screen is displayed next to the giant tachometer in the driver display. Sound is channeled through a small sound system that does a good enough job but gets overwhelmed by the sound of that V10 engine when going at full-tilt.
The Huracan impresses with its good reliability, and, unlike its bigger and more expensive sibling, the Aventador, it hasn't been recalled once in the last four years. Unfortunately, J.D. Power hasn't rated the Huracan Performante, or any Huracan for that matter, so it's difficult to gauge what owners have to say. Still, we've yet to come across a disappointed Huracan Performante owner. Lamborghini covers this special edition car with a basic three-year/unlimited-mile warranty, which includes corrosion and drivetrain cover for the same amount of time. Audi bests this with an impressive four-year/50,000-mile warranty, which includes a 12-year/unlimited-mile corrosion warranty as well as a one-year maintenance plan, and four years worth of roadside assistance.
The Lamborghini Huracan Performante hasn't been tested by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and we don't blame them: at over $250,000, most people would be too afraid to drive it around the block, nevermind into a solid slab of concrete. As with every other modern supercar, trust is placed in the manufacturer to build a car that's safe enough to withstand high-speed impacts, and as many a celebrity and professional soccer player has demonstrated, the Huracan Performante's AWD setup, high-performance brakes, and other safety features should prove enough to keep the privileged few alive and well.
The list of safety features on the Huracan Performante is short but effective: if it's good enough for Lamborghini, it should obviously be good enough for multi-millionaires who could buy a fleet of Volvos or an actual house on wheels for the same price. Lamborghini offers owners full size dual-stage front airbags, lateral airbags, and knee airbags in specific markets. In case of a high-speed accident, the Huracan will separate the engine and transmission from the passenger cabin to avoid the possibility of fiery death, and the front of the car features a crumple zone as well. An advanced electronic stability control system mated to a Haldex AWD system, and limited-slip differential in the rear, should keep things nice and planted, even in the worst driving conditions, and the high-performance brake system with standard ABS can bring things to an abrupt halt if need be.
Lamborghini has a way of making stunningly beautiful and capable supercars, and then making them even better later on in their production cycle. Take the Aventador, which went from a madhouse of a car to the SV, which was even more focussed, and then finally the SVJ, which still holds the Nurburgring record. The story of the Huracan Performante is the same: the standard Huracan was praised for its accessible yet serious performance and stunningly good looks, but the Performante makes the standard car feel dumb and blind. The addition of active aero which improves downforce by an insane 750%, carbon-ceramic brakes, stiffer suspension and a tweaked engine all come together to deliver a performance that feels on par with much more expensive machinery from rivals such as Ferrari and McLaren, and it doesn't deserve the title of baby Lambo at all: this is a serious supercar that deserves respect.
Money talks and Lamborghini listens. The Huracan Performante will set you back approximately $274,390, excluding license, tax, and destination fees, but that price is only going to grow in size seeing as the Performante was produced in limited numbers. The Huracan Performante sits closer to the top of the price range when it comes to its competitors: The Audi R8 5.2-liter V10 Quattro AWD Coupe can be had for around $170,000, which makes it an absolute performance bargain, and even the accomplished Ferrari 488 GTB undercuts the Lambo by nearly $20,000.
The Lamborghini Huracan Performante is a special edition performance model based on the Huracan Coupe and gets a number of updates, redesigned elements and other improvements that, as a whole, transform the car into a completely different animal than the standard car. The exterior features swathes of carbon-composite material to help save a total of 88 pounds, and the addition of Lamborghini's Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva active aero system has resulted in a car that has 750% more vertical downforce than the standard car. Couple this with available active damping suspension, carbon-ceramic brakes, and a tweaked engine with titanium valve springs and a redesigned exhaust system, and you have yourself one of the fastest production cars to have ever lapped the Nurburgring. The interior features Alcantara and leather heated power seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, digital driver display, automatic climate control, and Apple CarPlay integration.
5.2-liter V10 Gas
Lamborghini was so focussed on the performance side of things, that the list of optional extras was almost left by the wayside. There isn't much on offer, but what you do get is a set of sport bucket seats that replace the standard ones and offer race car levels of support (and look awesome at the same time). The optional magnetorheological suspension setup adds a stroke of practicality and can raise the car for tricky city driving situations, such as navigating speed bumps and driveways. Keeping with performance options, Lamborghini offers an exclusive set of alloy wheels with central lock nuts wrapped in supremely sticky Trofeo R tires. Lamborghini's Ad Personam service gives new owners a wide variety of interior color and material options to make each car a truly unique creation.
There's only one model on sale, so you don't get to choose between trim levels, but that's not what the Huracan Performante is about in any case. There's a limited number of available options for the Performante, which includes sportier bucket seats, high-performance Trofeo R tires, and a high number of interior color and material options. If we had our way, we'd have one in Grigio Nimbus Metallic, a mean-looking dark gray, and we'd obviously have to spec that with the adaptive suspension setup and stickier Trofeo R tires. On the inside, we'd get the more hardcore sport bucket seats, and cover it in black and gray Alcantara. Did we just build a stealth bomber? Rad.
The 488 Pista is a force to be reckoned with, and as the name suggests, this is no ordinary Ferrari, but a specially tuned version that gets more power, better handling dynamics, and a good dose of fury. Its biggest claim to fame lies under the hood: a twin-turbocharged 3.9-liter V8, which produces a massive 710 hp and 586 pound-feet of torque. That makes this engine the most powerful production V8 ever made by the famed Italian automaker. Interestingly, the Pista shares about as many parts with a Challenge race car as it does with the standard 488, which should give you an idea of how serious this car is. The Pista weighs more or less the same as the Performante at 3,053 pounds, and rolls on a set of 20-inch wheels. All that extra power means the Pista will accelerate to 62 miles per hour faster than the Huracan Performante: 2.8 seconds to be exact. As with the Performante, the Ferrari offers the bare minimum in terms of features and has even less cargo space. Both cars provide performance levels that most will never be able to exploit fully, so the choice boils down to brand loyalty and the sound of a naturally aspirated V10 or turbocharged V8. We'd stick with the Lambo.
The Audi R8 V10 Plus is Audi's hardcore version of their popular R8 supercar range, and as with the Performante, gains a few select modifications and updates to make it handle sharper and go faster in general. The R8 V10 plus is powered by a 5.2-liter V10 engine, which is mechanically identical to the powerplant found in the Performante, give or take a few features, and in the Audi, it produces 612 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque way up in the rev range. It allows the German to sprint to sixty in about three seconds flat, on its way to a top speed of 205 mph. Audi has also tweaked the suspension setup on the R8 Plus: the distinction between dry, wet, snow, and all-out performance modes is more noticeable and feels more effective, and you also get the option of fitting adaptive suspension for even more performance and practicality. The R8 V10 Plus is fast and brutally capable, but it's more relaxed interior and slightly softer suspension feel will attract a more laid back crowd who appreciate its better practicality and everyday liveability - and it's significantly cheaper too. If you're a true gearhead, you'll know which one we'd go for.