What is it?
It is two-wheel drive. That, beyond all else you take from the changes made to the Lamborghini Huracán to create this LP580-2 derivative, is the most important thing to note. Power no longer goes to all four wheels, but only to the Huracán’s rears.
And this is important, because the regular Lamborghini Huracán, the LP610-4, is a fine car but one whose balance is – how to put it? – dictated a little too much by its nose. It understeers quite a lot because Lamborghini wanted it to be a fairly straightforward car to drive. That made it one with no vices but also, for the purist, one with too little balance.
You could argue that the same was true of the regular Aventador, which is why Lamborghini added the SV variant of that model. Think of the LP580-2, then, as the Huracán being given similar ‘serious driver’s car’ treatment. With the two-wheel-drive Huracán, Lamborghini says it turned its "most technological car into the purest fun-to-drive machine”.
We’ll come to that in a moment. First, turning the Huracán into a correct-wheel-drive car has brought with it some other necessary changes.
With the loss of the driveline at the front, 33kg has gone because there’s no centre differential shaft forwards of that, no front differential nor front halfshafts, so the weight balance has shifted slightly rearwards – 40% front/60% rear rather than 43/57 as before.
That has necessitated adjustments to both aerodynamics and suspension, especially when you factor in the desire to give more front end bite. The front is now more efficient at producing downforce, while the front springs and front anti-roll bars are, combined, about 10% softer than before, to help put weight on the nose and increase agility on turn-in.
The rear suspension is only revised on order to balance the changes to the front and, while the steering hardware is unchanged, that it is unencumbered by power is said to make the car feel more responsive to inputs. Dynamic steering – which changes its ratio depending on speed and inputs and so on – is optional but wasn't fitted to our test car and is usually less satisfactory than a standard set-up anyway.
The engine and gearbox, meanwhile, remain unchanged in hardware, although the power of the 5.2-litre, naturally aspirated V10 is down from 602bhp in the four-wheel-drive car to 572bhp here, and it's made at 8000rpm rather than 8250rpm. Lamborghini says that’s to give a better balance with the rear wheels, but also concedes that it’s easier on the transmission, given that there’s a lot less driveline to cope with the power.
And, oh, how turbochargers have spoilt us for torque. The turbocharged Ferrari 488 GTB has some 561lb ft of it at 3000rpm. This normally aspirated Huracán gets a mere 398lb ft, and you’ll have to wind the motor to 6500rpm in order to access it. So if you want to make progress in a Huracán, you have to want to. Won’t you?
What's it like?
Truth be told, you don’t have to work a Huracán very hard to get it moving. Despite the minor power loss it still feels like an urgent, explosively fast car.
Mostly that’s because it is: a 3.4sec 0-62mph time from a two-wheel-drive car is quick in anybody’s language. And partly it’s down to what a turbocharged engine can't replicate: instantaneous throttle response at any revs.
Even if you’d actually move more vigorously in a 488 GTB – and you would, zipping round to the redline in a time you’d scarcely believe comprehensible – the instant way the Huracán delivers its power makes it feel incredibly alert.
But it’s in the handling where the LP580-2’s transformation has come. It still pushes on in some chassis modes – of which there are three – but, you’ll not be surprised to learn, with nearly 600bhp and only rear wheels to deploy it, it’s now rather throttle adjustable. Goody.
Those modes, then: there is Strada – street – in which the stability control system cuts in quite early and there is still notable understeer. There is Sport – er, sport – which firms the magnetic dampers (again, optional but fitted), but only a touch, in order to let the car lean on its nose and generate notable oversteer.
More oversteer than any other mode, in fact. Sport is the one about which Lamborghini makes the biggest song and dance when telling you how driftable this car is. Curious, then, that the stability control, even if you’ve switched it out, intervenes in Sport too, quite soon after grip disappears.
Only in Corsa – race – which firms the dampers again and returns the car to a more neutral natural cornering stance, can the ESC be turned off completely, which also frees the car to run into the rev limiter and lets you pull downshifts when a lower gear would be close to the redline. In other modes it won’t do either.
In allowing ESC off though, the full potential of the LP580-2 to slide is released, and if you give it a bootful it quickly adopts an easy-going, adjustable angle, with great body control on both the way in and out of the slide. But it’s odd that it’ll only do this in the mode in which oversteer doesn’t come most naturally.
Just driven quickly on a track, without trying to provoke the chassis, those three balances – over, under and neutral-steer – are there, with correspondingly better levels of body control. The steering is quick enough, too, although it feels detached. Road impressions will have to wait for another time.
Elsewhere? The interior is left well alone, which means it’s slightly wacky by modern supercar standards: bold, overdone hexagonal themes make the Huracán almost a caricature of itself. A Lamborghini is a wilder choice than the norm, and where a McLaren feels restrained and a Ferrari confident, the Huracán is, by contrast, pretty extrovert.
Should I buy one?
You might well, you know. The 580-2 doesn’t have the magic or keyed-in feel of the old Gallardo Superleggera, but it’s going the right way. When UK cars arrive next March they’ll be priced at around £160,000, which is a chunk cheaper than the LP610-4, and I’m confident this is the more satisfying car.
But in the same way that the Superveloce version brought incisiveness and adjustability to the Aventador, so two-wheel-drive model has brought new levels of involvement to the Huracán – and without the sense, as you sometimes get with the SV, that if you fell off of a circuit it would be an incredibly large accident. This car is playable and adjustable, fun and accessible – if you're in the right modes.
It’s still, though, hard to shake the underlying feeling that the Huracán has yet more to deliver; like Neo in the Matrix before he believes, “you’ve got the gift, but it looks like you’re waiting for something”. The good news is that it might yet come. Meantime, the LP580-2 is as good as the Huracán gets.
Lamborghini Huracán LP580-2
Location Qatar; On sale March 2016; Price £160,000 Engine V10, 5204cc, petrol Power 572bhp at 8000rpm; Torque 398lb ft at 6500rpm; Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch automatic; Kerb weight 1389kg; Top speed 199mph; 0-60mph 3.4sec; Fuel Economy 19.8mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 278g/km, 37%