There’s nothing we enthusiasts love more than a good special edition. Is it the exclusivity? The rarity? The marginal increase in performance, satisfying our innate human need to one-up one another? Probably a little of each, and I’m no exception. Though my preconceptions regarding the base Lamborghini Huracan were smashed when I reviewed the car for AlphaLuxe, I, too, fell prey to the hype surrounding the Lamborghini Huracan Performante.
With a world-beating Nürburgring lap time five seconds faster than a Porsche 918 Spyder, stunning forged carbon aero enhancements, and the debut of Lamborghini’s ALA active aerodynamics system, the Performante was poised to utterly demolish its supercar competition back in 2017. A little over 2 years later, I finally get to see what all the fuss was about.
Upon first glance, it’s clear the Performante means business. Its striking “tricolore” Italian flag decals and generously-sized aero adornments immediately conjure visions of racetrack shenanigans. Its design has aged remarkably well, in my eyes- still as striking and double-take worthy as it was upon its release in 2014.
Inside the cockpit, replete with luscious, glossy forged carbon accents, fighter jet-esque switchgear, and yards of alcantara, the Performante’s just feels exotic. There’s no doubt you’re sitting in something very special from the moment you plop into the grippy carbon buckets.
While no longer exclusive to the supercar elite, a full-digital dash completes the “21st century fantasy interface” starter pack.
And thought the interior couldn’t get any cooler? You flip a bright red safety shroud to access the push button start- just like launching the missiles in a fighter plane. Lambo really knows the way to my man-child heart. I do wish it was metal or some other organic material though…
Ten naturally aspirated cylinders roared to life, then settled into a smooth, purring idle, urging me to unleash the fury of 630 horses onto the canyon roads of Malibu.
While this car convincingly dominated its competition upon its release in 2017, its ‘ring dominance was short-lived, ousted by Porsche’s GT2RS just months later. And how long did I ponder this unfortunate demise, as I switched the car into “Corsa” mode, bathed in the red glow of the dash, and floored the throttle? Even less than the blistering 2.6 seconds required for the Performante to hit 60 mph.
As I zipped through the first set of uphill twisties, the hyper-quick steering rack, instantaneous throttle response, and mid-engine balance made the rear end incredibly playful. Even with the nannies on full alert, a sharp turn-in and a brush of the throttle were the only inputs required to invoke an effortless slide from the chunky Pirellis out back.
As compared to the mid-corner poise and endless mechanical grip of the base car, it was clear that the Performante was designed with a high degree of rear-wheel bias in its all wheel drive system, resulting in a riotously-fun ride, for those willing to push the car a little beyond its limits of grip.
Lamborghini’s ALA system, seen first on this machine and later on the Aventador SVJ, can independently divert airflow over the left or right of the rear wing to enhance cornering grip. While I didn’t feel much of an effect at these sensible speeds, I’m certain the system was doing its part to maintain poise in some higher-speed sweepers.
Also apparent was the work of the “snap, crackle, and pop” department. In Corsa mode, where I spent the large majority of my drive time, lifting off the throttle elicited all sorts of hilarious noises from the exhaust- varied enough to not feel as manufactured as those in the base Huracan. While I’m not typically one for an obnoxious exhaust note (nor are the CHP officers posted up in the Malibu canyons), you don’t drive around in a racy Lambo expecting to be low-key. How does the old saying go? When in Bologna…
Most vehicles of this caliber that I’ve driven, in recent years, elicit a similar response. I’m blown away by their performance, poise, and presence; but left wanting more. There’s only so much of the car’s capability that can be exploited at license-retaining speeds. I’m happy to report that the Performante is, truly, an exception to this rule. Its hyper-playful chassis and snappy throttle allow for fun at speeds below the posted limit. A raucous exhaust note and exotic cabin make the car feel exhilarating, even on a spirited jaunt through a SoCal canyon. This car is one of very few modern supercars that’s genuinely fun to drive on the street. Unlike its closest rival, Porsche’s GT2RS, it’s entirely possible to access the car’s personality without pushing it beyond sane street speeds.
So, bravo Lamborghini. You’ve managed to buck the trend, and produce a supercar that mere mortals can enjoy, even without access to a race track. “Special edition” might even be a disservice to this car- it’s so special, it almost deserves to be a model all its own. I’ll take a Spyder, in Verde Mantis, and you can catch me in the Malibu canyons (or you can try, at least!).
Counterpoint by Michael Gallardo
If you’re expecting me to tell you about how well a car with the name “Performante” performs, you might be disappointed… just as I was with this car. Buying manufacturer streetcars primarily because of lap times and stats is the reason why fun is being sucked out of sports cars and supercars of this day and age. A common misconception among car people seems to be the thought that the word “good” is equal to “superior performance.” When did we lose touch with the enjoyable qualities of supercars? Why do we feel the need to have a faster production car than our peers when we will most likely never achieve the limits of the cars we already own? What will be remembered about cars like the Huracan Performante when the next generation of supercars obliterates the current Nürburgring lap times?
Lamborghinis of the past were known for having character, outrageous design, and making the driver feel special. The Huracan Performante simply does none of this. It hardly felt different from the base Huracan, which feels only marginally different from the Audi R8 (which I personally prefer to the Huracan). I can’t imagine anyone would want to spend over $300,000 on a souped-up Audi R8, yet the Performante seems to have been popular amongst new supercar buyers. The car was not limited production, has the same engine as the base car, and quite frankly looks like every other Huracan on the streets with aftermarket aero bits.
Let’s refrain from using the “I plan on taking the car to the track often” excuse as a means for justifying the price difference from the Evo or base Huracan. This car is no performance bargain. Under no circumstances do your personal bests at the local track matter to anyone, unless perhaps there is a Lamborghini race series for street cars that happens to be larger than Super Trofeo that I’m not aware of.
Please, spend your money on a racecar or save some coin and just buy the base car if you’re a big fan of soulless Audis. If you really want to purchase a depreciating asset that’s actually good, you should go check out a Porsche GT car. If you want something truly special to drive, you might need to go back a generation or two because as far as I’m concerned, the latest generation of supercars is mostly made up of bragging rights appliances.
Counterpoint by ThomasM
Variety is good; diversity is good. Choice is good. But too much of a good thing can lead to fatigue and even revulsion – think AYCE (All You Can Eat) buffets. Too much choice can lead to analysis paralysis.
In this era of badge engineered Limited Editions, I agree with many that the last “throw on some yellow contrasting stitching and call it a special Giorgio Versace Edition” was one too many.
When everything is special, nothing is special.
However, for me, the Huracan Performante doesn’t fall into this conundrum – it IS sufficiently different in feel and performance from the base Huracan to justify its own special separate variant.
The Performante introduced ALA into production vehicles.
The steering and suspension was tuned from the base Huracan for a more responsive, tauter feel, providing drivers a more raw, more precise experience than the base Huracan. So much so that the Performante managed to score a fastest Nürburgring lap time, as short lived as that was.
Do these bragging rights title claims mean anything to me? No, but they do to many, and there is no denying the OBJECTIVE truth of such a claim. Fastest is fastest. E.O.D.
So what does the Performante package mean to me, someone who doesn’t race for a living and only gets on the track occasionally? Someone who has to worry about keeping his license and not going bankrupt paying his insurance premium?
It means a car that I can enjoy more than the base Huracan – the steering communicates more than the base model, though still not feelsome enough to my liking – think F40 or 4c steering feel; a more responsive throttle that gives me the sensation of more throttle control and ultimately more feeling of potential speed. And a suspension and grip, which is a result of suspension set up AND aero, that hints at greater potential on public roads, and proves it on track.
I learned at some point, even though I started as a popular opinion iconoclast, that NOT liking something because of claims or popularity makes one a slave of branding as much as brand fanaticism. Transcendence is being able to see through the branding and marketing claims and see and appreciate that which exists underneath.
Do I know and understand the Huracan has R8 shared underpinnings? Of course.
Do I wish that every Lamborghini had a proprietary Lamborghini engine and powertrain? Of course.
I wish people didn’t lie or hate, either. But there you have it, life is what it is.
The Performante deserved its time in the sun, even if there is clear shared Audi and R8 DNA. It is different enough, more than just a badge change on a pretty Italian body.
I appreciate the Huracan Performante, and if Lamborghini were to offer me one for long term review, I certainly wouldn’t reject it.
Author’s Biography: KevinB
KevinB is a 30-year-old auto enthusiast – a Mechanical Engineer by day, and serial side-hustler by night. By age 4, he could spout the make and model of any passing vehicle, and by 12 he was an expert in the inner-workings of the internal combustion engine. His love for all things motoring expanded into the two-wheeled world at age 17. He currently owns a 2016 Mercedes AMG GT-S, and a 2012 Aprilia Tuono V4R, and has somehow managed to retain his driver’s license.