The best-selling Lamborghini of all time has been updated but thankfully retains its free-breathing V10 … and shatters records in the process.

In an automotive world teeming with downsized engines guzzling chunks of the atmosphere through whirring turbochargers, Lamborghini’s thoroughly refreshed Huracán stands out as a beacon of hairy-chested, king-sized displacement, reminding anyone privileged enough to be within earshot of the wonders of natural aspiration. Yes, the free-breathing V10 is still alive … but only just.

Its supercar-building rivals may have accepted (surely with a healthy dose of resignation behind closed doors) that the path to meeting stringent emissions regulations lies in reducing cylinder counts and employing forced induction and even electrification, however, the folks from Sant’Agata Bolognese soldier on with atmospheric powerplants. The only concession thus far has come in the form of the VW Group-sourced twin-turbo 4,0-litre V8 nestled beneath the bonnet of the volume-driving Urus we tested in May/June 2020.

So, Lamborghini perseveres with the naturally aspirated 10-cylinder – itself passed down from the Gallardo – in its smallest coupé, albeit with a pleasing twist. Wearing the Evo badge, the facelifted Huracán has gained the uprated version of the 5,2-litre V10 from the Nürburgring-obliterating Performante, complete with titanium intake valves and a new lightweight exhaust system. As a result, its peak outputs are 470 kW and 600 N.m (increases of 21 kW and 40 N.m, respectively).

And what a delightful racket it makes. The mid-rear-mounted unit – recipient of the Engine of the Year award at CAR Top 12 Best Buys 2020 and visible on our test car through an optional transparent cover – delivers a spine-tingling soundtrack that grows only sweeter as it increases in volume and pitch, coercing its driver into pinning the throttle at every opportunity. From inside the snug cabin, the engine noise is raw and refreshingly unfiltered (in comparison with the more refined R8 and its version of the V10, for instance), peppered with chortle-inducing crackles from the new, high-mounted twin exhaust outlets.

Sure, the twin-turbocharged V8s employed by the Huracán Evo’s direct competitors present higher levels of everyday flexibility and gutsier mid-range punch by supplying additional twisting force lower in the rev range; but the V10 counters with a hair-trigger throttle and savage acceleration as the tachometer needle barrels towards the lofty 8 500 r/min redline (its peak power is just 500 r/min shy of that mark). It’s an entirely different experience to that served up by forced-induction offerings.

The Huracán Evo further departs from its rivals in that grunt is directed to all four corners although a slightly less powerful rear-driven LP610-2 variant is also available. Thanks to the adoption of an “enhanced” all-wheel-drive system, this model positively thundered off the line at our test strip, hitting 100 km/h from standstill in a mere 2,94 seconds. For the record, that’s a full three-tenths of a second quicker than we managed with the original Huracán in 2014 and enough to earn it the title of the fastest accelerating car we’ve yet road-tested, eclipsing both the Audi R8 V10 Plus (3,03 seconds in 2016) and the mighty McLaren 720S (3,09 seconds in 2018).

It’s certainly no slouch in the braking department either, with the Evo’s carbon ceramics bringing the 1 671 kg supercar to a standstill from 100 km/h in an average of just 2,59 seconds albeit with some slight squirrelling.

In the default (strada) driving mode, the dual-clutch transmission clips through its seven forward ratios with almost out-of-character civility. Toggle to either sport or corsa, though, and the gearbox switches to whip-crack upshifts, delaying each until near-redline and mixing brutal efficiency with aural theatrics. As before, the indicator and wiper switches are mounted on the steering wheel, leaving plenty of space for the driver to operate the wonderfully weighted column-mounted shift paddles, should they be so inclined.

Of course, as impressive as its acceleration figures are, the Huracán Evo is about more than mere straight-line speed. Lamborghini has thrown rear-wheel steering and a four-wheel torque-vectoring system into the mix, rendering it extra agile at lower speeds. It has also made the steering quicker, tweaked the magnetorheological dampers and rolled out an updated traction control system.

Perhaps the most significant change of all is the adoption of a new “brain” dubbed the Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Integrata. An army of accelerators and gyroscope sensors feeds real-time data to this central processing unit, which effectively predicts the optimal driving setup by tweaking chassis and powertrain elements accordingly. That all sounds intrusive but in practice, it’s just the opposite.

String together a familiar set of corners – the stretches between each bend compressed by the improved surge offered by that V10 – and you’ll notice the sharper, communicative front end, extraordinary levels of grip and a heady mix of composure and liveliness. In short, it’s both easier and rewarding to drive quickly, as incongruent as that sounds.

The driving position, though, is still a touch too lofty even with the pilot’s pew in its lowest position; accentuated by a low roofline that presents a challenge for anyone of six foot or taller. The seats, meanwhile, are awkwardly shaped and can induce backache after short drives. Blast down a snaking section of tarmac, though, and the throbbing in your lumbar spine will fade long before the grin leaves your face.

While the Evo is missing the Performante’s trick wing, it does gain a new front bumper and an integrated, slotted spoiler. Lamborghini says these, together with some underbody fettling, improve downforce and aerodynamic efficiency fivefold compared to the pre-facelift Huracán. The rear, too, looks menacing thanks to those repositioned tailpipes.

Inside, Lamborghini has added a new 8,4-inch capacitive touchscreen, sited vertically in the centre console and featuring dramatic bespoke graphics. It certainly makes the two-seater cabin look and feel contemporary but, because of its position, it’s fiddly to use on the move and the driver is forced to look down to operate it. Still, the Italian firm has smartly included a two-finger swipe function that works anywhere on the screen to enable fuss-free volume control.

The start button again lurks beneath a fighter-jet red flap so each ignition is an occasion and a hexagon design still dominates the cabin. Sadly, the poor outward visibility and lack of in-cabin storage remain (admittedly, the latter is likely not a typical supercar buyer’s priority). According to our strict measurements, the storage compartment under the bonnet holds just 64 litres, and a raft of features on the options list really should be standard.



TEST SUMMARY

Although a handful of flaws remain, the all-paw Huracán Evo is more than a mere facelifted version of the original. Lamborghini has managed to retain or even improve upon the very best bits (we’re looking at you, V10) while implementing clever under-the-skin upgrades to markedly alter its personality. It’s easier and more exciting to drive fast, providing a pleasing middle ground between the old Huracán and the hardcore Performante. Yes, its hair-raising performance is accessible to the average driver but the limits have been pushed further.

The overall experience is still utterly dominated by that engine and its intoxicating soundtrack. The V10 may have gone out of fashion – it’s more complicated and expensive to develop and build than a flat-plane crank V8 and inherently less balanced, too – but Lamborghini’s example remains one of the most spectacular powertrains on the market. Alongside the closely related unit that Audi uses in the R8, it’s the only 10-cylinder to have survived. How long will that last? Well, the bigwigs in Sant’Agata Bolognese have made no bones about the fact the firm would consider switching to six or eight cylinders a downgrade. Ultimately, the V10 as we know it is an endangered species, a dying breed boasting a level of high-revving character its turbocharged rivals simply cannot match. It’s a case of when rather than if the axe – rendered sharper each time emissions regulations tighten – will fall.

Should this be the last of the naturally aspirated V10 engines, what a pity it would be. But what a fitting send-off, too.  

ROAD TEST SCORE

Huracan Lamborghini Huracan Evo coupe
  • Price: R6,345,000
  • 0-100 km/h: 2.9
  • Power ([email protected]/min): 470 KW @ 8000
  • Torque ([email protected]/min): 600 N.m @ 6500
  • Top speed: 325+
  • Claimed cons. (l/100 km): 13.7 l/100 KM's
  • C02 emissions (g/km): 332 g/KM