2018 Lamborghini Huracán Performante first drive review: admission to an exclusive club


Getting behind the wheel of the Lamborghini Huracán Performante Spyder is like knowing the secret handshake for an exclusive club. You have to be able to afford the price of entry, know the strange rituals to simply operate the car, and understand the dark art of the ALA active aerodynamics system.

Lamborghini has invited me into that club for a day and a half. The venue is the Solage Resort in Napa Valley, where I am given the keys to a $300,000 Lamborghini.

To start the Huracán Performante Spyder, I must first put a foot on the brake pedal, flip up the red latch on the center console, and press the Start/Stop button beneath it. To put it in gear, press the M button behind that red latch then pull the right side steering wheel paddle to engage first gear. Want automatic mode? Press that M button again and an A pops up next to the gear indicator in the digital gauge cluster. It’s not like throwing your Camry into Drive.

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I can’t swing an empty wine bottle without hitting twisty, scenic roads in this part of the country, and that’s ideal for this Lambo. I drop the top—a simple matter of pressing a button on the center console and waiting for 17 seconds—and head out on the first of two jaunts in wine country.

2018 Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder, Napa Valley, July 2018

2018 Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder, Napa Valley, July 2018

Sound and fury

With the top down, the midship-mounted 5.2-liter V-10 sounds like a passenger in the non-existent rear seat. In Strada (Italian for street) mode, the engine is reserved, burbling quietly to itself. When I put it in Sport or Corsa, though, the engine takes on a deeper, richer, much louder note.

In any mode the V-10 will do whatever I tell it to. When I go easy on the throttle, the Lambo is happy to take me for a relaxed drive through wine country. When I dig deep with my right foot, though....violence!

The V-10 barks and yawps and the sound rises by about 30 decibels as it winds all the way to its 8,500 rpm redline. My neck snaps back and I become one with the Alcantara sport seat as rows of grapevines flash by in a blur. The 0-62 mph blast takes just 3.1 seconds and the Performante Spyder can reach a top speed of 202 mph. A top-down top-speed run is a sure formula for cool racing hair or premature baldness. I can’t achieve the former and have already experienced the latter.

2018 Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder, Napa Valley, July 2018

2018 Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder, Napa Valley, July 2018

2018 Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder, Napa Valley, July 2018

2018 Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder, Napa Valley, July 2018

2018 Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder, Napa Valley, July 2018

2018 Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder, Napa Valley, July 2018

The V-10 cranks out 640 horsepower, with its max all the way up at 8,000 rpm, and 442 pound-feet of torque at an also-high 6,500 rpm, numbers that best the standard Huracán by 30 and 44, respectively. A new air intake system derived from racing and reduced exhaust backpressure add the extra power.

The 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (also optimized for the extra power) upshifts almost as quickly as I can click the right-side shift paddle. That paddle is made of carbon fiber, mounted to the steering column, and about six inches long.

I pull on the left-side paddle for downshifts, which are accompanied by a “whoom” from the V-10 followed by a series of intoxicating pops and crackles that can range from a mild “pop pop pop” to full-on shotgun blasts. Rev-matching also means the downshifts are smooth so they don’t upset the car’s balance as it enters corners.

2018 Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder, Napa Valley, July 2018

2018 Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder, Napa Valley, July 2018

2018 Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder, Napa Valley, July 2018

2018 Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder, Napa Valley, July 2018

2018 Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder, Napa Valley, July 2018

2018 Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder, Napa Valley, July 2018

Cheating the air

The coupe version of the Performante is famously the car that, for a while, held the Nürburgring Nordschleife street-legal production-car lap record, as well as eight other track records, due in no small part to the Aerodynamica Lamborghini Attiva (ALA) system. That translates to Aerodynamics Lamborghini Active, but it’s best to simply think of it as active aerodynamics.


 
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