Lamborghini's wild race car for the road borrows from its track bred brethren.
"Race car for the road" is the most over-used cliche in motor journalism. But sometimes, just sometimes, it's actually accurate.
The STO part of the Huracan STO's name stands for Super Trofeo Omologata, translated as Super Trophy Homologated. Homologated from what, you might ask? Well, it's inspired by Lamborghini Squadra Corse's one-make race series race car, the Huracan Super Trofeo EVO, and its Huracan GT3 EVO endurance racer. Essentially, this makes the STO a hardcore racer for the track that's only street-legal to be driven home at the end of the day. Its V10 engine pushes out 630 horsepower like the Performante, but with a more aggressive engine map and only the rear wheels scrabbling for grip, it's a visceral experience that tingles the spine as it howls its way up to 8,200 rpm. The STO hits 60 mph in under three seconds and 124 mph in nine seconds, but even those numbers don't showcase just how talented a machine it is.
After spending some time with it along snaking mountain roads, it became apparent this is no ordinary race car. This is why the Huracan STO is Lamborghini's wildest road car yet.
A big clue to the Huracan STO's heritage as a race car is at the front of the car. The hood, fenders, and bumper are integrated into one lightweight unit. Lamborghini calls it the 'cofango' as a portmanteau of the Italian words' cofano' (hood) and 'parafango' (fender). The clamshell opens forwards and is used in race cars so mechanics can gain quick and easy access to the engine on a front-engined car or just the suspension and the brakes on a mid-engined car like the Huracan. The big disadvantage for a road car is that if you dent one area beyond repair, you have to replace the whole assembly. When we asked how much it would cost to replace the clamshell on the STO, all we got was a smile and a shrug.
You'll also notice air ducts in the hood, which, as well as improving engine cooling, also improves downforce. Also creating downforce from the front is the splitter, which directs air into the underbody designed specifically for the STO, and the diffuser. The cofango itself is designed to push air over the fenders and to the louvers, which helps maximize airflow from the wheel arches, reducing pressure and increasing downforce.
The most obvious downforce comes from the wing at the back. It's a single slotted wing with a double airfoil, and the front part of the wing can be adjusted into three positions. Working with the front splitter and underbody diffuser, Lamborghini claims it can create 925 pounds of downforce at 174 mph. Overall, Lamborghini tells us that the new body on the STO makes a 53 percent increase in downforce over the Huracan Performante.
Downforce is a component of a car's aerodynamics, but there's a lot more going on and working to keep the Huracan STO stable and slippery at high speeds. There are less obvious details like the side profile of the cofango directing airflow around the front wheels, reducing drag. Then there are more obvious elements like the shark fin mounted on the rear hood. While it can help straight-line stability, its main job is in the corners where the yaw angle (the direction of motion and the relative wind vector) of the airflow has an effect. Creating a different pressure level on each side of the fin creates a positive effect of stability. An added advantage of the fin is that it helps "straighten" the airflow directed at the wing. On race cars, maximizing grip is all about airflow over the various aero design elements, and the STO takes this to the extreme.
Also filed under aerodynamics are the air intakes. The most prominent is the scoop on the rear hood that pops up over the roof. Computer-controlled air deflectors manage the flow into the snorkel to cool the engine and exhaust outlet according to cooling needs. Other prominent are air intakes on the rear fenders. These are low-drag air inlets from a design originally developed by the US's National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the precursor to NASA. They're commonly known as NACA ducts and are used commonly in race cars.
The Huracan STO uses carbon fiber in the majority of its new body panels, and for the rear fenders uses what Lamborghini describes as a "carbon fiber 'sandwich' technique utilized in the aerospace industry." That's just the start of the diet process, which includes not using glass for the rear window but rather replacing it with the plastic louver, making the front windscreen 20 percent thinner, and giving the STO magnesium wheels. Inside, it's not quite spartan as you might imagine as the STO can still be driven on the road, but the carpets are gone and replaced with individual mats, and it seems that anything that can be replaced with carbon fiber has been. That includes the seats, which are much more comfortable than expected and manually adjustable as electric motors are heavy. You'll notice there are no traditional door handles and, instead, they're replaced by a strap to close the door and a pull-cord to open it again.
Also saving weight is cutting drive to the front axle. While this has as much power as a Performante, only the rear wheels are driven.
The STO uses Brembo CCM-R brakes, which Lamborghini claims have "4 times higher thermal conductivity than traditional CCB (carbon ceramic brakes)." The CCM-R (carbon ceramic material - racing) system is a step up from the purely street based carbon-ceramic brakes you'll find on the Huracan Performante or EVO. They're rated for both street and track and have a specific pre-bedded friction material added, while the next level would be Brembo's Carbon-Carbon system purely for the track. Still, these brakes take lessons from Brembo's expertise in Formula 1 and LMP1 endurance racing cars, making them more than just high-power road brakes. Lamborghini also claims the Brembo system on the STO brings "stress resistance up 60% higher, with maximum brake power improved by 25% and longitudinal deceleration by 7%."
While the brakes are resistant to heat, they do have to be cooled properly, and on the STO, extra air comes from the front brake cooling ducts as well as the cofango's air louvers.
The visually noticeable aspect of the Huracan STO's suspension modification is that it rides on a wider track than the Huracan EVO. Underneath, Lamborghini has used stiffer suspension bushings, so the wheel camber isn't affected when the car is pushed hard in corners due to the increase in mechanical grip. The STO has tuned anti-roll bars to go with its 2.0 version of the MagneRide suspension system used. The changes are made to go with the increase in grip but keeping the Huracan STO comfortable enough to drive on the road, something we found it did surprisingly well for such an aggressive track car. The STO also features rear-wheel steering, which makes itself known particularly on turn-in to make a small car feel even more nimble.
All the aerodynamics and chassis work in the world are only as good as the tires making contact with the road. In this case, Lamborghini commissioned Bridgestone for a tailor-made version of its Potenza tires. The tires feature a new tread compound, an asymmetric tread design, and an internal crown structure that keeps pressure spread evenly across the tire to retain grip. A track-focused semi-slick, but still road legal, tire is also available.
We're big fans of the notion that a car can be more than the sum of its parts. But when Lamborghini takes the expertise of its road-car division, the insanity of not one but two racing divisions, and the motorsport influence of leading brands like Brembo and Bridgestone, those parts of the equation are all phenomenal in their own right.
In isolation, one or two of these elements might make its way onto other track-focused road cars, but nothing short of seven-figure hypercars combines all this know-how and insanity into one all-inclusive package. The result? Take the sum of these parts and double it. Then double it again. Heck, triple it after that, because the insanity here is off the charts. And yet, somehow, it's all perfectly at home on the streets. Race cars are typically hard as nails, and we don't doubt that a real Super Trofeo racer would be, but aside from the magnetic suspension and an actual interior, this is a race car.