Lambo’s new technology redefines active aero…with astounding results
The most fascinating aspect of the new Lamborghini Huracán Performante isn’t its increased power, new tires, reworked suspension, or improved ABS system. It isn’t its recalculated stability and traction control programs, upgraded transmission, or decreased weight, either.
Nope, the part of the Performante that’s going to excite you supercar lovers the most is ALA. That’s short for Aerodynamica Lamborghini Attiva, and the folks from Sant’Agata have just patented it because ALA is an entirely new way to do active aerodynamics.
That isn’t all that’s improved, though. Power is up! And that’s always a good thing. Especially when your garden variety Huracán is capable of producing “only” 602 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque from its 5.2-liter naturally aspirated V-10. For Performante duty, the engine gets new intake and exhaust camshafts, an air intake borrowed from the gentlemen racer Super Trofeo Huracáns, and a new exhaust system that relieves backpressure. The result is 25 to 40 more horsepower and an additional 30 lb-ft of torque. Assume that final numbers will be between 625 and 640 hp and 453 lb-ft of torque. They’re still working out the details. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission has also been re-optimized for crisper, smarter shifts. The last time we tested a Huracán, it hit 60 mph in 2.8 seconds. Expect the Performante to be quicker.
Weight is down by about 90 pounds, thanks in part to that new exhaust system, which alone reduces fat by nearly 25 pounds. The rest of the weight loss is due to increased use of forged carbon fiber composite, or Forged Carbon (FC) as Lamborghini would like you to call it. The largest single piece of FC on the Performante is the rear wing, which is where the bulk of the ALA magic happens.
A side note: There was an internal fight at Lambo in regard to the car’s name, with none other than board member and R & D boss Maurizio Reggiani thinking Superleggera was the better moniker. However, because the primary focus of the car is performance and not lightweighting, Reggiani and several others were overruled.
The suspension has been massively reworked. The electric lime green Huracán with fixed dampers that I drove for an “Ignition” episode had brilliant handling. To be blunt, the other one—our long-term Huracán—with magnetic dampers, did not. That dark gray MR car pushed and understeered, and it felt a bit mushy (it also weighed 200-plus pounds more somehow). It simply wasn’t as sweet. It’s important to remember, though, the Huracán was Lamborghini’s first use of magnetorheological shocks; They didn’t do a great job. The Aventador Superveloce was their second effort, and based on that alone, my mind was at ease. The Performante represents something of a third draft, and the results are stellar.
What’s different? For one, the aforementioned shocks have been retuned to deal with the fast-acting active aero gear and as a result are much stiffer. The springs and anti-roll bars are retuned to provide 10 percent more vertical stiffness and 15 percent more roll stiffness. All the bushings are about 50 percent stiffer to cope with the stickier tires. The adjustable steering has been revamped, though most of the changes are in Corsa (track) mode. The Performante also gets newly developed special-application high-performance Pirelli P Zero Corsas. This caused the all-wheel-drive system to be reprogrammed and the ABS system to be reworked. Brake pedal feel is also improved. Finally, the ESC system was revamped. Because the Performante is more stable than the regular Huracán, ESC is less intrusive. Switch into Sport mode, and you’re essentially in Drift mode.
Then there’s ALA, for which you can thank Antonio Torluccio, Lamborghini’s head of aerodynamics and previously an engineer on both the V-10 and V-12 programs. Torluccio describes ALA as a smarter way to do active aero. Think about traditional active aero, such as on the Bugatti Veyron or Lamborghini’s own Centenario. Typically you have a large wing on some hydraulic struts. Based on conditions, the struts change the wing’s position. It works, but there are two drawbacks. One is speed, as most hydraulically adjustable wings need about a second to move fully from one position to another. The second is weight, as hydraulic fluid is heavy.
Enter ALA. Rather than moving a large part around, ALA uses fast-acting, electronically controlled motors to open and close flaps. The Performante has a little flap in the snout , which can open to decrease downforce and drag. That’s cool but not groundbreaking. The groundbreaking part of ALA can be found in the hollow FC wing. Each of the big uprights that support the wing is also hollow. Right under the engine cover sits a pair of small dual-mouthed intakes. One mouth on each feeds cool air onto the hot exhaust, and the other allows air to flow through an upright and into the wing. There’s an outlet on the underside of the wing where the air exits. Like the front flap, the dual flaps can open to reduce drag and close to increase downforce. Or they can open one at a time.
That’s right. Depending on which direction the Performante is turning, either flap can close in 0.2 second to create aero vectoring. Turn right, for instance, and the right flap closes while the left flap opens. With the right flap closed, downforce is exerted on the right rear wheel while the left wheel is looser and free to rotate in an arc. The opposite is true if you turn the car in the other direction. Lamborghini says ALA works between 43 and 193 mph. Any faster than that, and you don’t want to be turning the steering wheel. I asked if they looked into putting aero vectoring on the front axle. Torluccio told me they did, but there was no advantage.
How’s it all work? Quite brilliantly, if the 14 laps I did around Italy’s famed Imola circuit in a heavily camouflaged prototype are any indication. If you were to strap me to a lie detector and ask whether my experience was from ALA alone or if the improved power, tires, ABS, weight reduction, and suspension all played their parts, I couldn’t honestly say. Taken as a whole, however, the Performante is sublime, and a major step forward in performance. For instance, I was able to squeal a tire or two (and induce a big, dumb grin on my face) all the way around Imola’s awesome Acqua Minerale corner in the regular Huracán. In the Performante? No smiling. If anything, my face was showing nothing but fear as a result of the high velocities I was hitting. The Performante was much more accurate and precise, albeit a different sort of fun.
A few more examples: High-speed braking in the normal Huracán is, well, too exciting. We’ve long thought the ABS programming was a little funky. Combine that will the squishy shocks, and you get a car that wiggles around too much. That’s something you sure don’t want when you’re coming down from 170 mph, the indicated top speed you’ll see on Imola’s frightening front straight at the top of sixth gear. In the Performante? No drama whatsoever. On that narrowing front straight in the regular Huracán, I had visions of my own mortality. In the Performante, I had lucid dreams of catching the instructor—a Formula 3 winner, no less. Like all aero cars, going faster to improve handling is a counterintuitive proposition. I needed a few laps to calibrate my brain.
On my final two laps in the Performante, my friend climbed into the passenger seat of the instructor’s Huracán, which had been upgraded to the high-performance Pirellis because of the chase vehicle’s athleticism. The instructor himself was such a I asked my friend to report back to me how hard the guy was actually driving. After two laps where I really gave it my all, I was very happy to hear my buddy say, “Yeah, he was driving pretty hard.” There you have it. The Huracán Performante has such high levels of performance that mere mortals can feel as if they know what they’re doing on an old F1 track. How can you put a price on that? As I climbed out of the Performante, I said to Reggiani, “I don’t know why you let bad drivers like me drive such good cars.” He just smiled and shook his head.
One last thing: The Performante went very quickly around the Nürburgring Nordschleife. How fast? Well, Lamborghini’s own Aventador Superveloce set a time of 6 minutes, 59.73 seconds. The only production car to ever circumnavigate more quickly is the Porsche 918 Spyder, which laid down an ice-cold 6:57.00. The Huracán Performante? Lambo ain’t saying no matter how many times I ask (Reggiani just smiles at me), but I heard mutterings of “six-fifty-two-something-something.” That would shatter the Porsche’s record. We’ll find out for sure when Lamborghini pulls the wraps off the Performante in March at the Geneva International Motor Show.
|2018 Lamborghini Huracan Performante|
|BASE PRICE||$350,000 (est)|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Mid-engine, AWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe|
|ENGINE||5.2L/635-hp (est)/443-lb-ft DOHC 40-valve V-10|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed twin-clutch auto|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,400 lb (est)|
|LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT||175.6 x 75.7 x 45.9 in|
|0-60 MPH||2.7 sec (MT est)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||14/20/16 mpg (est)|
|ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY||241/169 kW-hrs/100 miles (est)|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.20 lb/mile (est)|
|ON SALE IN U.S.||Fall 2017|