"TELL ME SOMEBODY GOT THAT!?!?"
I have just executed what has got to be the most heroic drift out of a cresting right-hander at Bahrain International Circuit in Lamborghini's latest supercar. The name is Huracan Evo, and its 630-horsepower 5.2-liter V-10 and bright orange paint job scream almost as loud as I do.
"OH C'MON, NOBODY SAW THAT??"
I scan the track walls for the lenses of Lamborghini's hired shooters and the sky above for a drone I saw earlier. Nope. Guess I'll have to find another way to "do it for the 'gram." Such a pity, too, because Lamborghini has baked a ton of new features into the Evo, expressly for the social media generation.
Evo is essentially the midcycle reset for the entire Huracan model line. The three letters means evoluzione and reflect the evolution of the new base model. Gone is the Huracan LP610-4 coupe (and that naming convention); every future Huracan variant will be based on the Evo. And what a place to begin, as Evo upgrades the base coupe with the Performante's 630-horsepower V-10 and next-generation electromechanicals culled from across Lamborghini, including torque vectoring, rear-wheel steering, and something called inertial platform. Everything else is about the same. The Evo's chassis components, stiffness, and even overall weight are the same as the coupe, Lamborghini chief technical officer Maurizio Reggiani claims. From a hardware perspective, the Evo's V-10 has 99 percent parts commonality with the Performante's, but Reggiani says the software has many key differences; notably, the Evo redlines 500 rpm lower at "only" 8,000 rpm.
The design is evolutionary, as well; 20-inch Y-spoked wheels wrapped in Pirelli P Zero rubber are the most obvious tip-off from afar. Only the nose and tail of the stealth-fighter-influenced Huracan have been Evo-tweaked with a front chin spoiler and a small integrated wing in the rear decklid. Repositioning the exhaust pipes to the middle of the rear fascia, with their twin cannonlike tips protruding around the license plate, doesn't just look a lot more racy (and indeed were inspired by MotoGP bikes and Lamborghini's GT3 race car). It also provides real estate for a taller, more substantial rear diffuser. There is no large rear wing or ALA active aerodynamics system, but Reggiani claims a sixfold improvement in aerodynamic efficiency and seven times more downforce over the Huracan coupe.
Evo is the same weight as its predecessor, which means it's about 88 pounds heavier than the Performante. But here's where it gets interesting: Reggiani claims the Evo is a whopping 3.0 seconds faster than the base Huracan coupe over Lamborghini's 5-mile test course at the Nardo Ring, where it also just clips the Performante.
How? Lamborghini Dynamic Vehicle Integration (LDVI), a fully integrated vehicle dynamics control system with a single CPU that governs five main subsystems: torque vectoring all-wheel drive, all-wheel steering, traction control, adaptive magnetorheological dampers, and that inertial platform (called LPI—Lamborghini Piattaforma Inerziale). LPI 2.0 is an updated set of accelerometers and gyroscopic sensors placed near the vehicle's center of gravity to monitor the real-time attitude of the car, including acceleration in the lateral, longitudinal, and vertical directions, as well as roll, pitch, and yaw. LPI and the other systems inform the LDVI controller (by relaying such inputs as steering wheel, brake, and throttle position, as well as engaged gear, drive mode, and torque split). Lamborghini claims external conditions can be determined via feedback from the active suspension and a grip estimation function of the all-wheel-drive system. Reggiani says LDVI processes all of this information in real time and uses "feed-forward logic" to make new, dedicated settings for all subsystems in 20 milliseconds. (In comparison, a human eye blink takes between 100 and 150 milliseconds.) "It doesn't just react; the car predicts the best driving setup for the moment," says Reggiani, who also confirmed that LDVI is a Lamborghini exclusive; platform-mate Audi R8 won't get it.
To find out whether any of this was remotely discernible or true, we took a total of 12 hot laps in three lead-follow sessions (chasing a Lamborghini test driver) at the glorious Bahrain International Circuit, the Middle East's premier F1 track, which debuted in 2004. Last fall, Motor Trend named the Huracan Performante its Best Driver's Car, so prior to this outing, I pinged my fellow editor-judges for thoughts on how the best could be made better. Brakes were a consistent theme.
"I'd prefer more feel from the brake pedal—it's just hard and dead," road test editor Chris Walton said. Guest judge and Automobile's own Jethro Bovingdon agreed: "They go very hard and dead under extreme use. The ABS was also triggering a lot if you touched any curb." There were also some requests for increased nimbleness and a more neutral attitude (less under- and oversteer, through corners).
First, the bad news. No one on Team MotorTrend is going to like the brakes. Despite six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers grabbing cross-drilled and ventilated carbon-ceramic discs, the feel is surprisingly soft at first stab, without the linearity of the very best sports cars. Judging braking points at high speeds is tricky, often requiring an exploratory dab to find the engagement point, and then harder and harder effort to bring about predictable deceleration. A full damn-the-torpedoes stomp at the end of one of BIC's long straights sends the Evo (and my jowls) diving forward, but as the car slows, the lightened rear end wags noticeably. Not scary, but not reassuring, either. When I mentioned that perhaps more wing (a la Performante) might help settle the rear, Reggiani nodded knowingly and said, "Yes, yes, but we need to leave something for later, right?"
As for the soft brake setup? Reggiani is even more clear about Evo's intent: "This is a car for the street; we couldn't give the brakes race car feel because on the street, it wouldn't be acceptable."
The opposite is true, as well; on cool-down laps, I toggle the ANIMA mode switch at the bottom of the steering wheel to Strada (street), and the Evo goes dead asleep. The exhaust flaps shut immediately, rendering the cabin library quiet in comparison to Sport and Corsa (race) mode. Toggling the button on the transmission array from manual to automatic calms things down even further. For the sake of serenity and fuel efficiency, the seven-speed dual-clutch takes every opportunity to select the highest gear possible; matting the throttle does nothing to wake things up. The transmission is so slow to downshift that you're much better off pulling back a few times on the left downshift paddle.
Or just drive around in Sport mode, as is Reggiani's preference. With this middle mode engaged, the Evo is completely transformed. As the exhaust flaps click open, the dual-clutch drops gears until you're in the meaty part of the rev range and a deep roar fills the cabin. The digital dash display shifts, from a smaller, traditional needle and dial combination to a wider view that enlarges the gear indicator and emphasizes revs. Sport mode is by far the most playful, a word used a lot by Lamborghini's senior staff, as the LDVI system makes magic for us mere mortals. Attacking corners and exiting sideways in the Evo are easy, on-demand thrills. Do something wrong, and LDVI steps in, most noticeably in the drift recovery stage, where it can brake an inside wheel (via the traction control system), accelerate an outside wheel (via the torque-vectoring all-wheel drive), or even adjust the angle of the front and rear wheels (via the all-wheel steering system) to tuck the tail back in line. It's most impressive (and obvious) the more poorly you drive; in one corner I got the car so sideways that a tank-slapping sashay off track was clearly inevitable, but the Evo would have none of it; sensors sensed, actuators fired, and a single dab of countersteer on my part straightened the car out. Like a boss.
For a real-time display of what LDVI is doing, the Evo has an 8.4-inch touchscreen mounted vertically above the ignition button. Select LDVI mode, and it shows a top-down view of the powertrain, axles, and wheels, lighting up bits to show torque split (front/back, left/right) while digital gauges show the attitude of the four-wheel steering system. The screen also serves as a touch controller for the infotainment and climate control systems. Big news: The volume knob is gone, so to adjust sound, Lamborghini has added limited gesture control, familiar to any tablet or smartphone user. Slide two fingers up or down on the screen to raise or lower volume. Tap three fingers to mute or unmute the audio.
In a more substantial nod to the Facebook generation, the Evo is the brand's most digitally connected car. The Lamborghini management team says its clients demand it, so Apple CarPlay comes standard, and Reggiani says Android Auto will be on board by the time the vehicle launches in the second quarter of 2019. What's more, LDVI data can be downloaded to a thumb drive via the car's USB ports and uploaded to another Evo for comparison, in-car, while driving. Want to see how you and your Evo stack up against Randy's laps at Laguna Seca at Best Driver's Car 2020? That will be possible, Reggiani says. More intriguing, the system will apparently allow for comparative analysis of hot lap data from popular racing games.
But there's nothing like racing in real life, and in Corsa mode, LDVI is programmed to ensure the fastest attitude in all situations. Drifts are kept to a minimum but still gloriously possible, while everything else feels maxed out. Corsa makes the dash display even bigger, the exhaust louder still, and it completely ditches the automatic mode. You're the captain now (sorta). The Evo has moments when it feels more neutral and nimble than its predecessors, but not without the sensation of LDVI lurking in the background. Come in to a corner too hot, and a slight push of understeer is quickly subtracted. That whoop-inducing drift—all you? Probably not. That LDVI isn't completely invisible and will likely be problematic for track purists and hardcore racers, like MT resident hot shoe Randy Pobst. Reggiani admits that some of his test drivers had the same feelings initially but that in the end, they were all converts. Why? Because they were faster with LDVI fully engaged.
Make no mistake, the Huracan Evo is huge step above the previous base coupe and a legit challenger to the Performante crown. It fully deserves every heart, thumbs-up, and retweet it will get on social media, as there might not be a car within 100 horsepower that's easier to drive and drift at full tilt. But we'll need more time in it to see if we come to the same conclusion as Lamborghini's test drivers and to sort out what's possible with the downloadable LDVI data. And the biggest thing we were not able to asses is how Evo handles its true mission, as Lamborghini's most affordable and daily-drivable supercar. So stay tuned.
|2020 Lamborghini Huracan Evo|
|BASE PRICE||$265,000 (est)|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Mid-engine, AWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe|
|ENGINE||5.2L/630-hp/443-lb-ft DOHC 40-valve V-10|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed twin-clutch auto|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,650 lb (mfr est)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||177.9 x 76.1 x 45.9 in|
|0-60 MPH||2.9 sec (mfr est)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||14/21/16 mpg (MT est)|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||241/160 kW-hr/100 miles (MT est)|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.22 lb/mile (MT est)|
|ON SALE||Spring 2019|