Fancy a supercar for the weekend? A dream come true, right? Well, yes and no. Even in the hallowed halls of Autocar, the offer of a truly silly set of keys isn’t a particularly common occurrence, and it’s all-too easy to grab at them without a single salient thought in your head (other than "gimme" of course).
Experience slowly teaches you otherwise. There are a number of questions you ought to have answers for before you potentially turn an unexpectedly brilliant Friday night into a penitent Monday morning. I’ll use a recent three-day dalliance with the Lamborghini Huracán to illustrate.
1) Do you have anywhere you actually need to go?
Obviously you’re going to be ‘going’ lots of places. It’s likely you won’t consider anywhere too far away. In a Porsche 911 GT3, I once chose to buy a bag of cement from Norwich. But wherever you go, you won’t want to stop for very long, or go very far. Walking away from an attention magnet like the Huracán is a test of faith in human nature.
Mine, apparently, is very limited. You have to be the son of a Russian oligarch or seventeenth in line to the Saudi throne to comfortably ditch a supercar on the side of the road. Leaving the Huracán in Lidl’s car park for ten minutes was my limit.
2) Wherever you do go, do you mind being the centre of attention?
Because this is going to happen a lot. Especially, it would seem, in a matt black Huracán. In a high street, it's almost a given that almost any supercar is going to turn the heads of dads/adolescents/adolescent dads, but Lamborghini’s new charge generates untold levels of interest. “They look like they’ve seen a naked woman,” the Mrs memorably remarked in Richmond.
‘They’ also weren’t above swerving in front of the car for the perfect camera phone shot or forming a crowd at a motorway petrol station. It’s all thoroughly jolly, but be prepared to wear out your waving arm and do some chatting.
3) Do you have to get it over anything bigger than a matchbox to park at home?
Well, then you’ll have to check it has a nose-raiser installed. My current driveway is up a gentle slope you wouldn’t normally concern yourself about in anything else, but in a supercar it might as well be an anti-tank obstacle.
Even without that kind of impediment outside your front door, you’ll find yourself cringing at sleeping policeman. Fortunately, the Huracán had the ability to pick up its skirt in seconds.
4) Can you face scrutiny of real policeman?
Because this isn’t out the question. Not by a long shot. Even if you manage to stay within the same galaxy as whatever speed limit you happen to be (probably accidentally) breaking, the law will likely take a deep and abiding interest in you.
And if you happen to be heading toward the coast under the cover of darkness in an Italian-registered, right-hand-drive Lamborghini, that interest will inevitably turn into a compulsive need to have a chat.
5) Do you have the correct documents?
A boring, book-keeping exercise, but one that becomes enormously significant when you’re standing on a verge explaining to plod why you’re in a Lamborghini you don’t own in the middle of the night. When the word ‘impounded’ appears in the conversation, the requirement becomes pivotal.
Press cars, especially those blessed with number plates the local constabulary can’t interrogate, come with necessary information tucked in the glovebox. But your Italian better be up to scratch if you want to help them decipher the difference between a registration document and the insurance.
6) Are you prepared for the cost?
Ah yes, the insurance. Being handed a supercar is like being loaned anything else expensive – it tends to come with an awful lot of clauses.
Borrowing a car from a manufacturer for the purposes of writing about it is perhaps the least bothersome way of borrowing an automobile ever devised – however, even for scribblers significantly more seasoned than myself there is still the excess to worry about.
Lamborghini’s policy, it turns out, is actually very accommodating. But another manufacturer I can think of will expect a £1000 payout for each rim kerbed. Cringe.
7) Are you prepared for a workout?
It must be said, the Huracán is a fantastically easy car to drive about in normally. In Auto mode its gearbox is easygoing and the V10, although chattery, is incredibly docile at low speeds.
But you won’t want to drive it normally all the time – at some point you’ll go all devil-may-care and want to launch about the place. Which is fine and lovely, and what it’s all about – although that doesn’t stop it being an utterly physical experience.
Get the bit properly between your teeth (admittedly inadvisable on the public road) and it won’t be long before the remarkable all-wheel grip has your core and neck muscles are straining at the effort of keeping you upright. Factor in your heart rate and the tummy-butterfly effect of that V10, and you’ll wish you brought a towel along.
8) Is it really, at the end of the day, going to be worth all the hassle?