Penultimate version of Lamborghini’s V10 super sports car offers STO thrills, and milder touring manners, for a sweeter price. Raw, wild, demonstrative, and well worth savouring.
“The business has certainly come back faster than we anticipated.” So says Lamborghini Chairman and CEO Stephan Winkelmann, with a smile painted across his chiselled jaw, in explanation of the remarkable, trend-bucking sales growth of his employer. The company posted its strongest annual sales volumes on record in 2021 when most other car-makers were ‘enjoying’ starkly different fortunes, and it has just introduced a new version of its core V10 sports car called the Lamborghini Huracan Tecnica.
While no Lamborghini executive seems willing to risk saying it out loud, in 2022 the company is on course to break through the 10,000-unit watershed. If it does, its business will have grown from roughly a third the size of longtime rival Ferrari’s to be almost a match for it, in volume terms at least, in less than a decade. It’s quite the coup – and there’s that much-teased, all-electric, fourth Lamborghini showroom model still to come, let’s not forget.
Ought we perhaps to remember, though, when ex-Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo warned against the risks of growing beyond a sustainable business base for supercar makers, because doing so might dilute exclusivity and bring about painful cuts during economically tough times? It wasn’t that long ago; and times seem pretty tough right now for the vast majority of us, don’t they? Well evidently the global rich didn’t get the memo.
Product-wise, many would quite rightly point to the Lamborghini Urus SUV as the driving force behind the company’s late commercial rise, but the truth is that the Huracan super sports car has been pulling its weight, and then some. The company’s mid-engined models are doing twice the volume today that they were five years ago. In the year of the headline hybridisation of key rivals, this mid-engined V10 exotic may feel more and more like some throwback misfit with every passing month, and it’s certainly in its dotage. But the funny thing is, Lamborghini just keeps selling ‘em – perhaps because the cars themselves just keep getting better.
The Huracan Performante of 2017 was brilliant. Both the facelifted Huracan Evo RWD and the Huracan STO that have since followed it have been special cars also. And now, with less than two years of life left in the car, comes what will be the penultimate version, before it too regenerates and switches to plug-in hybrid power: the Huracan Tecnica.
This new mid-level Huracan derivative is intended to plug the gap between the regular Evo version of the car and the top-level STO hardcore special, the latter having been a car which the factory launched only tentatively, unsure as to whether customers would be willing to spend what was nearly Aventador money on a Huracan (guess what, reader: they have been). But the Tecnica’s price is much closer to heartland Huracan territory: it’s pitched just above £200,000 in the UK, but is still cheaper than the entry sticker price of a McLaren 720 S, and is considerably cheaper than a Ferrari 296 GTB.
The car takes the 632bhp engine of an STO and its particular combination of a rear-wheel drive chassis and standard four-wheel steering (which had never been offered on any Huracan before last year), and then delivers it in a slightly softer-sprung, more road-appropriate package, that’s wrapped in a new-look body a little less shamelessly, jab-in-the-eye aggressive as the STO’s styling unquestionably is. That’s the abridged version of Lamborghini’s character definition of this car, though I’m not totally sure I’m buying it. This is a better Huracan, without doubt – but it’s better thought of as a car with 95 per cent of the outright circuit pace and wonderful unreconstructed rawness of the STO, for 75 per cent of its purchase price.
Because, while it’s undoubtedly a little quieter, softer-riding and generally gentler-to-drive than its rangemate at its most restrained, this is still a V10 Lamborghini: a car that’s at its best when you’re embracing its wild side, which is an act which isn’t for the shy and retiring. Given the noise these cars make and the stir they create almost everywhere they go, I can’t believe anyone wants a marginally more buttoned-down version that they can use that tiny bit more often. It would be the most marginal of marginal gains; like recruiting Frankie Boyle’s slightly less controversial twin brother for after dinner speaking on the gentlemans’ club circuit of middle England.
The fact is, Lamborghini expects the majority of Tecnica customers to order their cars with the rollover bar, figure-hugging sports seats and sticky Bridgestone trackday tyres that it offers as options, as if they were buying slightly dressed down STOs, anyway. The car’s cabin has new lightweight carbonfibre door skins and is upholstered widely in racecar-cool ‘dynamica’ suede upholstery. And, while it has a new infotainment system with expanded connectivity features (navigation input via What3Words, voice control via Amazon Alexa), it retains those slightly imperfect, low-roofed driving ergonomics which make it a bit hard to see out of, and tricky to get entirely comfortable in, if you’re over six foot tall.
I’m not a giant; but still, I’m not sure I want a Lamborghini that makes me perfectly comfortable at the wheel, as if it had been designed from the inside out rather than the other way around. Then again, I wouldn’t expect to use one like a normal everyday car anyway, even if I could afford to. Cars like this just aren’t of the normal, day-to-day world, and neither should they be. We should celebrate their extravagance while we can.
Thankfully, the Tecnica lets you do that too. It offers the usual ‘Strada’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Corsa’ driving modes to choose between when you’re off and going, and in the first of them it is certainly a softer-riding, quieter and better-mannered car than the STO is, should that be what you’re looking for from it. But ‘Sport’ brings out that howling, crackling, bombastic soundtrack from the exhaust note that only a big atmospheric engine can conjure, and it instantly assumes such a compelling part of the car’s driving experience as to reframe it completely, and dominate it entirely.
The Huracan Tecnica’s power delivery is supremely crisp and linear, though it needs 4500rpm of crank speed before it’s ready to give the car top-level modern supercar performance. But from 4500rpm up to beyond 8000-, this V10 is as spectacularly demonstrative as it is savagely potent: a thrill of the sort that increasingly few performance engines can touch. The day that Lamborghini bids farewell to it will be such a sad one, and especially now we know that it’s definitely coming.
On the road, the Tecnica’s combination of rear-wheel drive and four-wheel steering goes some way to enlivening the accessibility of the Huracan’s handling appeal, but doesn’t transform a car that has always needed driving hard to really come to life. Sport mode dials back the stability control and steps up the responsiveness of the four-wheel steering system, giving the chassis extra liveliness in tighter bends, but perhaps not the immediacy or outright agility of some supercars.
But on the track, where you can let that engine loose without troubling your conscience so much, the Tecnica’s handling balance is a delight. ‘Corsa’ driving mode locks the rear wheels in line with the chassis, and brings extra sharpness and cackling brimstone from the engine. And while the outright tactile steering feel of the Huracan STO isn’t quite reproduced by the Tecnica, the car still gives you lots of confidence to explore the outer limits of its grip level, and to vividly enjoy and exploit a chassis that’s truly poised, precise, and pleasingly forgiving.
The Huracan Tecnica certainly has a place, then, but it’s a place where it can be driven to its fullest potential; where it can be wilder and more forthright than any of its supercar rivals, and arguably every bit as entertaining as the very best of them. As places go, that’s not a bad one from which to bow out.