Riding Bareback: Taking the all-wheel-drive saddle off the Huracán makes it better
You have to love a press conference that avoids unverifiable claims of 300 percent more torsional rigidity and meaningless promises of added dynamism. Instead, the 2016 Lamborghini Huracn LP 580-2‘s trackside presentation contained at least a dozen references to power oversteer. Auto enthusiasts know this doesn’t describe the superior position a cattle rancher exercises over male livestock. Rather, it’s what happens when a properly improper amount of power is sent to the tires of a rear-wheel-drive car while driving around a bend. Old-timers call it “loose,” kids call it “drifting,” and we call it brilliant—nothing is as rewarding as balancing a car on the edge with the throttle.
Old-timers call it “loose,” kids call it “drifting,” and we call it brilliant.
Fundamentally, Lamborghini removed the front-driven axle from its mid-engine, all-wheel-drive LP 610-4, shaving 73 pounds (33 kg) from the LP 580-2’s new nose, which in turn results in a not-insignificant 2 percent shift in weight distribution toward the restyled rear of the car. While they were at it, they relaxed the car’s front springs and anti-roll bars, added more positive camber, revised the electric-assist power steering, and altered the construction of its Pirelli P Zero tires. Two of the three electronic overlords were tuned to exploit the desired effects. No longer a 602-horsepower tempest in an AWD teapot, the 571-horse Huracn LP 580-2 nearly maintains its stablemate’s 5.7 pounds-per-horsepower value (at 5.9) and finally allows the baby Lamborghini to kick its tail out through corners. Most important, however, these revisions supply the sort of fine front-wheel control and dynamic balance only a rear-drive car can deliver. The LP 580-2 has the best steering response, precision, and feel of any Lamborghini we’ve ever driven.
Although they wouldn’t flat-out say it, the Lambo officials insinuated (and our prior experience suggests) that the 580-2 would make a slower lap than a 610-4 simply because the latter can drive out of corners better with all-wheel drive. But that’s not the point of this car. It’s meant to be more fun and less expensive, and it is indeed both.
The 580-2 will also be slower to 60 mph. Even with its own baked-in launch control and the same seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the RWD Huracn will never launch as well as the AWD version. Last time we tested an LP 610-4, we clocked it at 2.8 seconds to 60, and we estimate the LP 580-2 will do it in 3.3 seconds—if and only if its non-adaptive launch control is effective.
Our day consisted of flinging the 2016 Huracn LP 580-2 to our heart’s content around Losail International Circuit in Doha, Qatar, a 3.34-mile (5.37-km) track that hosts a nighttime MotoGP race every spring. With both fast sweepers and tight corners, the circuit allowed us to sample a wide range of cornering speeds from 40 to nearly 100 mph (161 km/h). With the drive-mode selector in either Sport or Corsa, slow- to medium-speed corners would elicit mild understeer that could either be transformed into oversteer with more throttle or, if that didn’t work, the time-honored lift-stab of the throttle to transfer the weight to the front and break the rear loose. And with that revised steering system, feeling and catching the drift while balancing the car until the straight bit arrived was as entertaining as it was intuitive. That’s what makes this the better Huracn and perhaps the best modern Lamborghini: information streaming from the car, more dynamic variables available, and more tools in the driver’s toolbox.
The LP 580-2 fulfills its mission as a thrilling and capable sports car that just happens to look like a supercar. Howling front tires and heavy, reluctant steering let the driver know the car’s front grip is at its peak. Either be satisfied knowing this is the limit until the straight arrives, or whack the throttle to break the rears loose and crank the talkative wheel in the opposite direction for a little fun. Your choice. These sorts of sensations and options simply don’t exist in the LP 610-4. Don’t get us wrong. We still love the AWD Huracn. This one is just more pure—like riding barebacked instead of saddled.
We did find a couple faults, however. Occasionally while in automatic mode, the transmission preselected the next-higher gear, anticipating steady acceleration, but we instead went to full throttle, and it stumbled for a moment while reselecting the lower gear for a kickdown. Most dual-clutches are susceptible to this, but it happened each time we exited a particular corner. Also, even with the optional carbon-ceramic brakes and magnetorheological dampers, it was unnerving to slow the car from about 165 mph (265 km/h) on the 3,500-foot front straight. There was perhaps a little too much weight transfer under this extreme braking because the rear of the car got very light and wiggly. Combine that with an initially soft-feeling brake pedal and ABS that nearly locks brakes, and it had us backing up our braking zone by about 100 feet. These are extreme conditions, however, likely never experienced by most buyers.
Starting in March, Lamborghini’s asking price for the more engaging Huracn LP 580-2 is $37,550 USD below that of the LP 610-4. At $204,895 USD, the 580-2 is nearly nose-to-nose with the McLaren 570S on price, performance, and entertainment value. The Audi R8 V10 Plus, which shares myriad LP 580-2 parts, is also a competitor. Finally, the Porsche 911 GT3 is in this low six-digit neighborhood, as well, and wouldn’t this be a terrific multicar comparison test? Until then
|2016 Lamborghini Huracn LP 580-2|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Mid-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe|
|ENGINE||5.2L/571-hp/398-lb-ft DOHC 40-valve V-10|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed twin-clutch auto|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,350 lb (est)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||175.6 x 75.7 x 45.9 in|
|0-60 MPH||3.3 sec (MT est)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||14/21/17 mpg (est)|
|ENERGYCONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY||241/160 kW-hrs/100 miles (est)|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.18 lb/mile (est)|
|ON SALE IN U.S||March|