SANTA MONICA, Calif.—It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, but automakers usually reserve the “evo” badge for cars that are a little bit special. Already-fast race cars like the Peugeot 905 and Porsche 919 Hybrid turned into Evos that went even faster.
The BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz 190E Evos brought some of the German touring car paddock to parking lots at law firms and trading desks at the end of the 1980s. Mitsubishi had an entire series of Evos, more famous now from starring in than for years of rallying success. And this sentiment more than likely holds true of the Huracán Evo, the latest iteration of Lamborghini’s V10 supercar.
I’ll need more time behind the wheel to be more definitive, for this analysis is based on just a few laps at Willow Springs, a high-speed, old school race track not too far from Edwards Air Force Base. But if my first impression is correct, the Huracán Evo is one of those cars that flatters the person behind the wheel regardless of their talent. It is, however, completely misnamed.
Evo is short for evolution, obviously. But this supercar didn’t evolve; it’s proof of intelligent design. For one thing, a naturally aspirated V10 engine is becoming less and less fit for surviving CO2 per mile regulations, at least without some kind of hybridization. For another, there was intent behind the changes it sports over previous Huracáns. This is not the product of a random and uncaring universe, it’s a tool for those with means to use it for a specific end. In this case, a machine you step out of with a bigger grin and more effervescence than you had when you got in.
Even supercars get a facelift
You’ll need quite a keen eye to tell a Huracán Evo from one of the earlier cars. At the front there’s a new splitter with an integrated wing that does more with the air it channels around the car. The revised front also generates an air curtain that helps control turbulent wind from the front wheels and feeds cool air into the radiators behind the doors. At the rear, the Evo looks much more technical, with more vents and grills to help hot air escape the engine bay. Lamborghini says this is a nod to the Huracán GT3 race car and its recent run of success at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring. (After many years of avoiding competition, the factory at Sant’Agata has embraced the GT3 category of customer racing.) In total, the company says the new car has six times the aerodynamic efficiency of the old car and seven times as much downforce at speed.
Underneath the glass rear deck lives the Huracán Evo’s V10. It’s borrowed from the stripped-out Performante model that debuted in 2017, which means 630hp (470kW) at 8,000rpm and peak torque of 442lb-ft (600Nm) at 6,500rpm. “Being naturally aspirated is one of the key things that differentiates Lamborghini in this segment,” said Alessandro Farmeschi, president and CEO of Lamborghini America. It certainly sounds all the better for it, particularly in comparison to the turbocharged V8s that power mid-engined competitors from McLaren and Ferrari.
The biggest changes are to the car’s dynamic ability, achieved through a combination of new and upgraded electronically controlled systems. There’s now brake-based torque vectoring and rear-wheel steering. The magnetorheological dampers have been upgraded to version 2.0, as has the Lamborghini Piattaforma Inerziale, which uses three gyroscopes and three accelerometers mounted at the G-center of the car to constantly monitor acceleration around three axes as well as pitch, yaw, and roll. Making sense of it all is the Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Integrata, or LDVI. This black box of brains coordinates the whole show, and Lamborghini says it’s able to anticipate your next move rather than react to your last one.
How it reacts depends upon which of the three drive modes you have the car in. Strada (or street) is the most restrained, offering the most supple ride and the least aggressive steering feel and throttle response. Sport is probably where most Hurácan Evos will spend their lives. This one sounds the most extreme, with plenty of pops and crackles from the exhaust pipes as you downshift. This is also the most playful mode—LDVI will extend you some leeway with regard to slip angles before gathering it all up for you when in Sport. Finally, Corsa is track mode, offering the firmest suspension, the most direct steering, and the quickest throttle response.
From what I can tell, it drives great
Unfortunately, I didn’t get enough wheel time to pen a full review at this point. If you want to know what a past Hurácan Evo is like to live with, I can point you to our 2015 feature. During my recent time at the track, I didn’t get a chance to poke into the revised infotainment system. I can’t tell you what it’s like to take through a drive-through, other than to warn you there is no cupholder. And I don’t even know if there are still Lamborghini-embroidered leather gloves in the frunk, in case you get a flat. My total seat time with the car can’t have been more than 20 minutes, but at least those were wonderful minutes all on track at Willow Springs.
I can confidently say, however, that the Hurácan Evo moves around a lot. The track at Willow Springs doesn’t have the smoothest surface, and there’s plenty of challenging camber to work with, but I don’t think this moment came down just to the track. The Hurácan Evo is a talkative thing, engaging the driver through their senses and touch points. Your butt is your connection to the rear wheels. It’s here you’ll feel the car yaw as it squirms under heavy braking or shimmies as you apply the power, the traction control icon appearing on the dash as it happens. Through your hands, you feel the front tires grip, which start to turn into understeer if you get too greedy with the throttle in a corner.
There’s more grip than you expect. With only three laps and no desire to risk an off-track excursion, I’m not really sure how close I got to exploring the car’s true on-track potential. I’ll leave that stuff to Chris Harris and co. As a track driver of moderate ability and vivid imagination, I found the car intuitive to drive fast, and I also found it enjoyable. The car feels lively but communicative through those contact points. Sectarians may find too little purity for their tastes, what with a flappy paddle gearbox and LDVI’s electronic safety net. But don’t let conventional wisdom mislead you; the fun you have with the electronics backing you up is real, actual fun, even if there’s technowizardry going on behind the scenes to keep you from embarrassing yourself. I only have one small initial complaint—the brake pedal is too far to the right to be able to comfortably left-foot brake on track unless you have tiny feet.
Should you buy one?
A race track is the perfect setting to enjoy a car like this, particularly a track as wide and fast as Willow Springs. Simply put, the Hurácan Evo’s performance may be too extreme to really appreciate on public roads. Lamborghini tells us that it’s capable of reaching 62mph (100km/h) in 2.9 seconds, 125mph (200km/h) in nine seconds, and that it tops out at 202mph. I have it on good authority that we were hitting close to 160mph before braking into Turn 1; the only time I checked the speedometer was on the cool down lap going through Turn 8, which indicated 91mph (146km/h).
With so few miles under our belt it’s difficult to say how the Hurácan Evo stacks up against the mid-engined competition. With a base price of $261,274, it’s more expensive than a Ferrari 488 but cheaper than a McLaren 720S. It is, however, less powerful than either of those cars. Price-wise it’s a better match with the track-focused McLaren 600LT—but again, we’d have to drive a Hurácan Evo on the street before making further comparisons.
If you are in the market for a Hurácan Evo, at least, you definitely want the alcantara-wrapped steering wheel. Leather will no doubt be harder-wearing (which is why it’s so commonly used), but the synthetic suede-like fabric gives the car a tactile sense of occasion. And driving a Lamborghini should be an occasion.