Lamborghini’s mid-cycle refresh helps the Huracán accelerate and turn, but the brakes might need work.
The drawn-out life cycles of big-buck, low-volume vehicles mean that supercars face the same kind of mid-life crises that are typically ascribed to their owners. That’s why we’re now flooded with unending variations of mid-engined exotics. There are convertibles, performance specials, and even mid-cycle facelifts—just like your Hyundai Sonata! Arriving five years into the model’s production lifetime, the 2020 Lamborghini Huracán Evo is just that, a freshening of Lamborghini’s starter supercar. The Evo adds rear-wheel steering and a 29-hp injection to the Huracán’s 5.2-liter V-10, raising output to 631 horsepower. Magnetorheological dampers and variable-ratio steering—optional on the outgoing Huracán—are standard on the Evo, and the old Audi-based infotainment system is replaced with an all-new Lamborghini-exclusive unit. And of course, the design team in Sant’Agata sandwiched the Evo between new front and rear ends with a fresh take on the timeless Lamborghini theme, which blends an unending love of hexagons with a narcissistic mindset.
The Evo builds on Lamborghini’s newfound knack for weight-be-damned performance. The 2012 Aventador LP700-4 marked the transformation of Lambo’s iconic wedges from creatine-huffing four-wheeled pinups to creatine-huffing athletes. Following in 2014, the Huracán demonstrated that Lambo’s rejuvenated interest in vehicle dynamics wasn’t a fluke. As evidence of its shifting priorities, Lamborghini even claimed the production-car lap record around the Nürburgring Nordschleife, twice—first with the Huracán Performante and later with the Aventador SVJ.
Starting at about $268,000, the Evo is less of a specialist than those track heroes. It’s intended to be a daily driver for the South Beach set rather than a weekend lap dog. Nevertheless, Lamborghini confined our first drive to breakneck tours around the 15 turns of the 3.5-mile Bahrain Formula 1 circuit. Not that the roads in Bahrain would have revealed much. At its estimated top speed of 202 mph, the Evo would cross the entire country on flat, straight roads in less than 12 minutes.VIEW PHOTOSLamborghini
Hard-Core Handling, Soft Brake Pedal
The Evo’s many adaptive systems all run though the new Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Integrata, or LDVI if you can’t fake the Italian. LDVI combines the old car’s individual processors for the all-wheel-drive system, the adaptive dampers, and the stability control into a single computer that also manages the rear-wheel steering and Lambo’s first use of brake-based torque vectoring. While the outgoing Huracán took its orders from a set of reactive algorithms, this new system uses feed-forward logic to predict the driver’s intentions and sharpen or soften the car’s responses accordingly. Lamborghini tells us that LDVI makes adjustments 50 times per second, juggling an unfathomable number of data channels. The computer considers 240 inputs including pitch, roll, yaw, acceleration in every direction, wheel positions, steering angle, the driver’s social-media following, and how long ago the passenger last ate. Okay, we made up those last two, but there’s got to be some fat in there, considering the computer spits out an incomprehensible 340 outputs. Even with all those variables in play, we found one consistent result: Driven fast, the Huracán Evo will always feed the driver’s ego.
In Sport mode, the Evo playfully teases past the limits of the optional Pirelli P Zero Corsa PZC4 tires (regular P Zero PZ4s are standard). By imperceptibly squeezing individual brake rotors, the torque-vectoring program encourages the driver to corner with the tail out. The Evo’s Corsa mode plays it straighter, stopping short of provoking slides but still divvying torque and pulsing brakes to hold a neutral attitude in bends, largely indifferent to the nuances of your corner-entry strategy. In either mode, it takes intention but not talent to initiate and control big slides. That’s a result of a chassis that moves Lambo closer to the neutral-handling ideal that cars of this caliber deserve. The inert variable-ratio steering, however, leaves a lot to be desired. (There’s also a street-oriented Strada mode, but we didn’t dare waste any of our limited track laps using it.)Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
The Evo still doesn’t have the front-end bite of a Porsche 911 GT car, nor does it feel as intense as the double-edged sword that is the McLaren 720S. Compared to that Brit, which will burn an inattentive or sloppy driver, this Italian feels less emotional, less challenging, less attuned to the driver’s intentions. Instead, the Lambo is stable, planted, and forgiving. It barely wags its tiny ducktail spoiler when you combine a lateral load with threshold braking or a redline upshift.
The standard carbon-ceramic brake rotors struggle to keep up when the Evo’s estimated 3500 pounds are hustled. Setting the pace for our lead-follow laps, Lamborghini’s professional drivers frequently lifted on the Formula 1 circuit’s long straights and moved to the left pedal well before they reached the braking markers placed at the track’s edge just for our drive. And even that wasn’t enough to prevent the pedal from going soft during sessions that were limited to just three laps. In fairness, we were not the first or the last drivers to take the cars on track. The Evos on hand could have been abused to the point that the braking performance was compromised. Fresh fluid, pads, and tires could fix this, so we will wait for a proper C/D test before we pass judgment on the Evo’s brakes.VIEW PHOTOSLamborghini
A 10-Cylinder, 631-HP Seismic Event
The Evo’s 631-hp V-10 is lifted directly from the Huracán Performante with only slight software and exhaust changes. As in the Performante, every trip to the 8500-rpm redline packs a forceful indictment of its turbocharged rivals. Running almost in step with the Performante, the Evo should notch 60 mph in 2.4 seconds and close the quarter-mile in less than 10.5 seconds. Remind us again why our exotics need forced induction?
In the campaign to save the endangered naturally aspirated species, the Huracán Evo needs help the same way the giant panda does. No one should waste time presenting a rational case for free-breathing engines. It’s a purely emotional argument. You don’t even need to be inside the car to understand. Just being in its presence draws out deep reverence and a shot of adrenaline. An Evo passing at full wail is a seismic event, exciting a buzz in the concrete that you feel in the soles of your shoes. The exhaust tips have been moved higher to accommodate a larger diffuser, and they are now at the perfect height so that anyone who can keep up can see the cherry-red glow of 10-cylinder fury through the outlets.
The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission remains a quick-witted companion on the track. We only wish there was a shift light or some kind of spastic graphic on the digital instrument cluster to warn the driver that the rev limiter is approaching. It comes up so blindingly quickly and without warning that you’ll find yourself smashing into it in Corsa mode, in which the transmission must be manually paddle shifted.Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
It’s one of life’s great ironies that the price of a car and the quality of its infotainment system are typically inversely related. Lamborghini is making strides to address that with the Evo’s new vertically oriented 8.4-inch touchscreen in the center console. It replaces the outgoing Huracán’s poorly integrated Audi MMI system, which displayed a sort of rectangular picture-in-picture of Audi’s MMI system inside a banana-shaped digital instrument cluster. This new system drags Lambo into the 21st century with streaming web radio, Apple CarPlay compatibility (Android Auto support is under development), and multitouch shortcuts. Dragging two fingers up and down on the screen adjusts the volume, while tapping three fingers mutes the audio. The screen also manages the Evo’s optional two-camera telemetry system, which logs data and video for analyzing track laps. The infotainment system is hardly as intuitive or fluid as Audi’s latest, let alone Hyundai’s or Fiat Chrysler’s, but owners will no longer have to make excuses for why their quarter-million-dollar supercars came with Radio Shack–grade electronics. It’s progress, at least.
That’s true for the Evo as a whole as well. Lamborghini has moved on from selling brash status symbols to selling brash status symbols that can corner. The brand has stayed true to its image and customers while evolving its understanding of performance. It’s progress not perfection, though. While they’re no longer blunt instruments, Lamborghini’s supercars are machetes in a world of surgical scalpels. Track capability extends to all three aspects of driving: accelerating, turning, and braking. The Huracán Evo demonstrates mastery of the first two concepts. We’ll need some more time in a fresh car before we can say whether the third blade needs honing.