How fast? How much? Is it a Ferrari? Will you swap for my Fiesta? These are all questions you’ll be asked – repeatedly – if you drive a Lamborghini Huracan. Especially if it’s the Performante Spyder in Giallo Inti yellow, with molten gold wheels, a fixed rear wing and Italian Tricolore stripes. Every fuel fill-up, every trip into town becomes part of somebody’s Instagram story.
However, there’s more to Lamborghini – and the Performante in particular – than simply showing off. Any supercar can lap Harrods on a Saturday afternoon, but very few can lap the Nürburgring in less than seven minutes. Indeed, to date, only three road-legal cars have gone quicker: the Radical SR8 LM, Porsche 911 GT2 RS and (the new king of the ’Ring) Lamborghini’s own Aventador SVJ.
Key to the Performante’s circuit-slaying speed is Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva (ALA), an active aero system that opens or closes intakes to boost vertical load in corners, then reduce resistance on straights. What effect retracting the fabric roof has on this finely honed balance of downforce and drag isn’t noted, and it’s probably best not to ask. The drop-top Huracan is a not-insignificant 120kg heftier than the coupe, too. Still, allowing your eardrums unfettered access to 640 horses certainly makes it feel faster.
More than anything, noise is what dominates the driving experience. Flip up the red ‘bomb switch’ cover, prod the starter button and the engine ignites with a yelp, then settles to a strident idle. In default Strada (Road) mode, the Lamborghini is merely loud, but selecting Sport or Corsa (Race) opens the exhaust baffles and gives the V10 full voice – culminating in an apocalyptic shriek as the needle nears 8,500rpm. It’s part-Pavarotti, part-Rage Against The Machine, a life-affirming cacophony that cuts to your core.
The hardcore Huracan sounds so special because, unlike most rivals, it’s naturally aspirated. And what its gold-painted 5.2-litre V10 (showcased under glass in the coupe, but sadly hidden in the Spyder) lacks in mid-range wallop, it amply compensates for in razor-sharp throttle response and a voracious hunger for revs. It feels absurdly potent: a bug-eyed axe murderer lurking behind your left shoulder, its full fury just an ankle-flex away. It’s probably the most exciting engine of any car on sale.
As you’d expect, the Performante is a dab hand in the corners, too. Its steering is sublime, its carbon-ceramic brakes are brutally effective and its suspension is supple enough – if you avoid Corsa mode – for broken British roads. Also, the combined efforts of ALA, four-wheel drive and soft-compound Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres mean you’ll never run out of grip. At least in the dry.
What’s more surprising, perhaps, is how easy this Lamborghini is to drive. Its controls are light, the seven-speed paddleshift ’box has an automatic mode and visibility is good for a supercar. No more perching precariously on the sill to reverse, as in the Countach of old. Yes, the infotainment is fiddly – certainly no match for the closely-related Audi R8 – but my only real gripe concerned the fixed-back carbon fibre seats, which have scarcely any padding. Thankfully a ‘comfort’ option is available.
As a high-end machine for people who take track days seriously, the Performante Spyder squares up to the Ferrari 488 Pista, Porsche 911 GT3 RS and new McLaren 600LT. All are coupes. As a convertible for those who prefer cruising the Kings Road, its rivals are somewhat softer. In truth, the Lamborghini currently occupies a niche all its own, pushing boundaries of both performance and sensory stimulation. It’s an automotive adrenalin-rush like no other.