CAPE TOWN – I’m calling it the “edge of infinity” face and I’m open to the idea of selling it to the emoji people. It’s when half of your face is winced as though you’ve just witnessed an airborne skateboarder land amidships on a staircase rail, while the other half is grinning like a 16-year-old who’s just talked his way into the screening of an 18+ movie. In context, it’s a look best practiced as the rev counter needle in a vehicle like the Lamborghini Huracán Performante surpasses the 8 000 r/min mark.
In this moment, the left-hand-side of your face instinctively grimaces out of sheer mechanical sympathy towards the innards of the ten-cylinder engine mounted over your shoulder, while the right side of your mug reflects the unadulterated visceral thrill associated with this moment. Scream if you want, but no one will hear you over the bellow of the accompanying exhaust note.
There’s no safe word here, only a brief respite offered by a flick of the right steering column-mounted transmission paddle before the next “edge of infinity” moment is upon you.
One man who must have perfected this look by now is Lamborghini test driver Marco Mapelli, the individual responsible for his employer’s last two Nürburgring Nordschleife lap records, the latest of which was behind the wheel of a Huracán Performante.
Helping the fastest Huracán to date achieve a quite astonishing (though since bettered by Porsche) 6:52,01 minutes lap time is its plethora of active aerodynamic add-ons that, while granting the Performante that much more street-cred over the standard car, makes optimal use of the air flowing over and under the car's body to limpet the Lamborghini to the ground through corners. Indeed, in true flamboyant Italian fashion, Lamborghini claims the Performante offers 750% more downforce then the standard Huracán.
Dubbed Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva (or ALA, which conveniently is also the Italian word for wing), this system includes active flaps within the front splitter, as well as hollow (and flap-controlled) wing mounts able to channel air to vents on either the left- or right-hand side of the tray for improved cornering downforce.
Shaving nearly 40 kg from the standard Huracán package, the Performante is an exercise in innovative forged composite materials, including the engine cover, spoilers, diffusers and bumpers. Serving as a constant reminder of its inclusion within the outer structure, there’s plenty more forged composite surfacing to be found on the interior of this special-edition Lamborghini. Here, and in arguably one of the most “rich people problems” sentences I’ve ever constructed, I actually don’t like the wet look that this surfacing brings to the interior, including on the air vents and door panels.
This, and the fact that by the end of my drive the sports seats were feeling a little too snug on my admittedly broader than optimal hips, will be my only gripes around my day spent with the Performante ... I promise.
If its default ride has been firmed according to the needs of lap-time pursuits, it only serves to heighten the decidedly more hardcore driving experience. That said, while the dampers are 50% stiffer to compensate for increased downforce there remains a welcome compliance that makes the Performante just about usable as an everyday commute; just make sure the bespoke Pirelli P-zero Corsa tyres are up to temperature before hitting the freeway fast lane…
Heavily reworked to include a new (lighter) exhaust system and the intake system from Lamborghini’s Super Trofeo racing cars, the Performante delivers its newfound 470 kW and 600 N.m of torque (21 kW and 40 N.m more than the standard car) to all four wheels via an optimised seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
While it admittedly took me a little time to stop hunting for the Drive Select button in the Huracan’s Audi-mimicked (and thus high-quality) interior, once reacquainted with the decidedly more Italian, steering-wheel-housed mode select switch, I patiently awaited the smallest clearing in traffic before dialling in full Corsa mode in search of my next edge of infinity moment.
Based on my time spent with the Performante, I couldn't obviously tell you when the active aero was doing its thing, but it is obvious that this more track-focussed Huracán offers a sharper turn-in than the standard car, while delivering that much greater shove out of each corner; and with that much more noise emphasising this fact.
I love cars like this. Cars that despite their modern day shared componentry requirements successfully manage to look and feel like fully fledged members of their immediate family. Faster, louder and decidedly more focused than a standard Huracán, the Performante feels that much more special and than the still impressive Audi R8 V10 Plus with which it shares much of its DNA. Usable in everyday conditions – but only just, and that, for me, is what a true Lamborghini should feel like. A special car for special moments.
Lamborghini Cape Town has moved to its new showroom at 1 Bridgeway, Century City.