What starts as an electronic pulse, responding to a flexed right foot, ends up – through the process of combustion – as the angry wail of spent gases escaping via the quad pipes of an Akrapovic exhaust connected to the 657bhp 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 of a Lamborghini Urus Performante.
The echo off the Tuscan hills is merely an exclamation mark on an experience that will reserve pride of place in my hippocampus for a long time to come. Meanwhile, the heat haze emanating from the engine cover of a Huracan Technica at full throttle in front of me causes me not to duck for cover but to pinch myself. After all, this is what dreams are made of! Well, this is what birthday celebrations are made of – to mark 60 years from the debut of Ferruccio Lamborghini’s first creation, the 350GT, in 1963.
How it started
Legend has it that Ferrari owner, Ferruccio Lamborghini – a wealthy Italian industrialist and manufacturer of tractors – complained to Enzo Ferrari about the clutch on his car. Needless to say, Il Commendatore was none too pleased and dismissed not just the complaint but also the complainant – to his own peril as it turned out. Ferruccio Lamborghini simply turned around and founded the fiercest rival that Ferrari has ever known.
How it’s going
Suffice to say, Ferruccio Lamborghini made his point and forced Enzo to up his game. First, the Miura arm-twisted Ferrari to go mid-engined, and then the Countach made him swap out the luscious curves he so prized for sharp creases and wedge-shaped lines. But the oil crises in the early 70’s meant that Ferruccio himself had to sell out. The automaker bearing his named swapped hands several times over the next couple of decades, before ending up in the very able hands of Audi in 1998. Being a part of a behemoth like the Volkswagen Group has given Lamborghini access to the most cutting-edge technology in the automotive world, not to mention the reserves of cash needed to do what it does best – create some of the most striking and desirable machines ever produced.
Speaking of striking and desirable machines, what we have here are the latest iterations of a pair of the best-selling Lambos of all time – the aforementioned Urus Performante and Huracan Tecnica.
Confession time, I’m one of those people who thought that it was sacrilege for a supercar maker to produce an SUV. But then I put my sensible hat on and rationalised these seemingly ungodly acts by telling myself how the Cayenne saved Porsche and allowed it to continue making the best sports car of all time – the 911. Heck, even Rolls-Royce is making the Cullinan and Ferrari the Purosangue (although I wonder how Il Commendatore himself would react).
Confession #2: I’ve driven the Urus on the track before and, while it was incredibly capable, it didn’t exactly win me over. Until now, that is! The Performante, in Italy, around the Modena hills above the Lamborghini factory, was simply sensational. No question that it retains the soul of Lamborghini.
Our convoy consisted of six ‘raging bull’ SUVs and a pair of super sports cars in shades that ranged from all the colours of the rainbow to a couple in quite ominous tones in an understated matte finish. Needless to say, it was a sight worth seeing (and hearing of course). Even here, in Italy’s motor valley – home to Ferrari, Lamborghini, Pagani and Ducati – people stop and stare, smile and whip out camera phones. We came across a group of school kids, and while we stopped for them to cross the roads, we put on an acoustic performance that AC/DC would have been proud of. It was incredible and quite heart-warming to see them giggle and literally jump with joy. That’s what supercars are meant to do – spread joy; create awe; make people smile; shock and exhilarate.
And, on this day, on these historic roads, as part of this exhilarating convoy, that’s exactly what the Performante did for me. The performance is simply astounding. I could get into the specifics, but that’s not important. Suffice to say, it’s a phenomenal machine – with a capital P (Phenomenal Performante). Proper supercar performance in a convincing supercar package.
But if you want to take that step up from supercar to super sports car, then it’s the Tecnica that you’re after. A couple of years ago, I drove the race-ready Huracan STO at the BIC, and – hand on heart (confession #3) – it’s one of the most incredible machines I’ve ever driven. The naturally aspirated V10 is the true heart of the machine. Linear, gutsy, and joyous – and the soundtrack, oh my, the soundtrack… It’s rear-wheel drive, so the steering is true and full of feedback. The balance is perfect, so-much-so that I was power oversteering out of corners after just one lap behind the wheel. And while this final iteration of the Huracan – the Tecnica – loses the STO’s clamshell bonnet (the Cofango), it retains its 640 horsepower and incredible balance. It’s tremendous with a capital T!
I was keen to partake in these celebrations – thank you Lamborghini for inviting me – because I knew that this would be my last chance to fire up my favourite production car motor on sale today. Like the V12 Revuelto (successor to the Aventador), the next-gen Huracan (and Urus for that matter) will have hybrid powertrains. And while it will undoubtedly be faster still, it will also be heavier and more complex than the Huracan of today. The Tecnica benefits from almost a decade of development of the Huracan, and a century of development of the internal combustion engine.
Humans have evolved for 300,000 years and, if you believe Darwin, we are the most finely honed versions of ourselves. Well, indisputably so actually but that’s because of something that Darwin had no knowledge of at the time – the smartphone that virtually forms an extension of our palms and gives us access to all the knowledge known to humankind. Yet, we use this power to doom scroll TikTok. And in doing so perhaps we are disproving Darwin after all.
Meanwhile, the automobile is certainly the most advanced it’s ever been. We’re poised for an electric future that will undoubtedly be faster and more advanced still – such is the inevitable nature of progress – but it’s also true that machines like the Huracan will lose a part of their soul as they trade in their fire-spitting hearts for the circuits of an electric motor.
Personally, I don’t see how the whine produced by electricity can make the spine tingle, but I’ll be forever grateful for machines like the Huracan. Thank you Lamborghini for six decades of desire and spine tingling machines. I know that I certainly will have the sonorous cacophony of that storming V10 ringing in my ears for a long, long time to come…