2017 Lamborghini Huracan Performante review

You’re looking at the fastest production Lamborghini ever built – if you accept the Nurburgring as a standardised measure for such things, of course.

In October last year, in the hands of factory test driver Marco Mapelli, the Huracan Performante set a 6:52sec lap, faster than a Porsche 918 Spyder and Lamborghini’s own Aventador SV.

Not hanging about, then. With front-end styling inspired by a snake’s fangs, lashings of lacquered carbon fibre, bronze wheels, high-mounted exhausts and that rear wing, the Performante is actually – by Lamborghini standards – a relatively restrained effort. Generous use of composite materials, as well as looking cool, contribute to an overall weight saving of 40kg.

2017 Lamborghini Huracan Performante side profileTo help matters, that 5.2-litre naturally aspirated V10 has been tickled to 470kW at a glorious 8000rpm. Torque climbs to 600Nm, 70 per cent of which is available from 1000rpm. Again, modest on-paper gains, but tech you can’t see (like titanium valves) and bits you can (those bronze-coloured intake manifolds and superbike-inspired exhausts) add to the magic.

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It’s quicker, too. The 0-100km/h time is now 2.9sec and a second has been taken off the 0-200km/h sprint, with 8.9sec. That’s serious speed. Fundamentally, though, it’s the same as the regular LP610-4, in that it drives all four wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and can do all sorts of clever stuff with its front-to-rear torque distribution, actively adjustable magnetorheological dampers and controversial variable steering ratio.

2017 Lamborghini Huracan Performante engineBut the truly transformational additions are the Pirelli Trofeo tyres and the active aero (ALA) that squishes them into the tarmac. Sport mode, despite being the midway setting, is the most rear-biased of the modes and therefore the one for sideways heroes. Corsa mode is where the Performante’s real character is unleashed.

The whole car feels tensed and ready for action, the variable steering ratio locks into a narrower and faster range, the damping sharpens and the aero vectoring element of the ALA system activates. Then there’s the engine. And what an engine. A naturally aspirated V10 closing on 8000rpm.

2017 Lamborghini Huracan Performante wheelThrottle response is fabulous. The merest twitch of your toe unleashes a mayhem of valve-train thrash, sounds of fuel and air being sucked into the manifolds and epic exhaust noise. And with it, an instant reaction through the chassis. That softness in the regular Huracan? Gone. In Corsa mode, the turn-in is leagues better.

With aero vectoring effectively dragging the car into the corner by putting more downforce on the inside rear wheel, you need less lock than you think to hit the apex and the car turns in assertively and aggressively with the slightest twitch of your wrists (though there’s not a great deal of feel through the Alcantara-clad wheel).

2017 Lamborghini Huracan Performante driveThrough fast direction changes you can feel the ALA system keeping the tyres keyed into the track. Eventually, the Corsas start going off and the Performante falls into slight oversteer, though the all-wheel drive system pulls you out of it if you’re willing to keep the throttle pinned.

On the street, for all its blistering track pace, the Performante is a surprisingly fun road car, too, the increased feedback actually giving you more than the regular Huracan. Drive it in Strada on the road and it’s like a regular Huracan with a big wing on the back – with the knowledge that in Corsa it’s a different animal.

2017 Lamborghini Huracan Performante rearAnd here lies the Performante’s real talent. It does all you’d want of a hardcore Lamborghini in terms of noise and visual spectacle around town. But it combines that with a dazzling array of technology, expertly calibrated to make you feel like you could go full Mapelli and trot out a sub-seven lap of the ’Ring.

Where supercars once set out to challenge, their primary goal is now to flatter. Unlike any Huracan before, the Performante now caters to the latter as much as it does the former.

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