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Driving

the sun times Thursday, May 25, 2017

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2017

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Active aero the key to baby Lambo

handout/lamborghini

First Drive: 2018 Lamborghini Huracan Performante

David Booth Driving.ca AUTODROMO DI IMOLA, BOLOGNA, Italy ? The only number you need to remember regarding Lamborghini?s latest supercar, the Huracan Performante, is 6:52.01. Oh, there are other important facts and figures ? the number of pistons (in this case 10), horsepower (an entirely creditable 631) and 2.9 (the time the Performante takes to scoot to 100 kilometres an hour) ? that Lamborghini will claim are equally important. But, they are mere sideshow and, truth be told, not all that outstanding. Six minutes, fifity-two and one one-hundredth of a second, on the other hand, is astounding, positively monstrous in fact. For that?s how long it takes for Lamborghini?s latest hot rod to circumnavigate the Nürburgring?s famed Nordschleife circuit, the gold standard these days of supercar worthiness. And, by dipping eight seconds below the seven minute mark, the Huracan Performante becomes the fastest production car ever around the circuit, quite literally the King of the ?Ring. What?s most extraordinary about this development is that the baby Lambo is not traditionally really known as a track demon. Oh, with a high-revving V10 and a swoopy silhouette, it is most definitely a supercar. But, if not quite a tart?s handbag, it is a bit of a ponce?s ride, all strategically-styled angles and pastel paint meant to attract rich hipsters and millennials for whom the appearance of being fast was more important than actually being fast. Hell, the Huracan isn?t even supposed to be the fastest Lamborghini ? that laurel is supposed to rest with the V12-powered Aventador LP750-4 Superveloce. And yet, the darned thing is now quicker than Porsche?s demonic 918 and countless other hypercars boasting more pistons, scads more horsepower and even stickier rubber. The Huracan, once a snowflake amongst supercars, is now top dog. To give you an idea of what Lamborghini has managed to accomplish in its Performante transformation, consider this: The basic Huracan, the LP610-4, circumnavigates the Nordschliefe in roughly 7:28. That?s some 36 seconds slower than the Performate, an eon in racing circles. How does one explain this, considering the new Performate?s 5.2-litre V10 sports but 30 more horsepower than the LP610 (maybe worth a second or two) and, and thanks to copious amounts of ?Forged Composite? carbon fibre, 40 less kilograms (again, maybe worth a second or three)? Even the 10 per cent stiffer springs (less roll) and the 50 per cent stiffer suspension bushings (more direct steering) aren?t worth more than a second. So where?s the other half minute? In the new Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva (ALA), that?s where. Roughly translating into active aerodynamics ? ?ala? literally means wing in Italian ? Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva is the most advanced aerodynamic system yet employed on a production automobile. By using a huge rear wing and an electronically-controlled front splitter, Lamborghini claims a huge 750 per cent increase in downforce compared with the basic Huracan. Maurizio Reggiani, Lambo?s chief engineer, says that downforce is boosted from just 40 kilograms at 300 kilometres an hour to over 350 kg. But it?s not just the sheer might of the invisible hand pushing the Huracan into the pavement that makes the Performante unique, but how it?s directed. In a first, Lamborghini can determine ? quite literally corner-by-corner ? which wheel receives the benefit of all that aerodynamic downforce. By computerizing a bunch of flaps and channels in the Huracan?s body and rear wing, the Performante actually directs its aerodynamic weight to the inside wheel ? the one that threatens to leave the ground as a result of weight transfer ? spreading the traction across both wide 305/30R20 PZero Corsas, thus (not quite) doubling the tractive abilities of the rear tires. Reggiani says that in standard trim, a Performante can generate as much as 1.3 g?s of cornering force; up its tire game to PZero Trofeos and the number approaches the magical one-anda-half g?s mark. So, it?s got a high-tech thingamajig that slices through the air. Does it actually work? Fantastically well, thank you very much. Even compared with the advanced 720S McLaren unleashed a couple of weeks ago (and the GT with which Ford won the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year), the Performante is a veritable track weapon, a car that literally puts the ?super? in sticking to the road like glue. Indeed, in pretty much every extreme ? of which there are many at the world famous Autodromo di Imola, which has to be one of the most impossibly treacherous racetracks in the world ? the Performante is trustworthiness incarnate. Miss your braking point at Variante Villeneuve (yes, that Villeneuve)? No problem, that massive rear wing pushes down so hard on the rear tires that 225 km/h becomes 120 in mere metres, all without the slightest sway of rear Pirelli. Want to hold the throttle wide open through the impossibly fast ? I was seeing 250 km/h on my warm-up lap ? Variante Bassa? Well all those 350 kilos of downforce, aero vectored so they?re going to the right wheel, makes the Performante feel as planted as a Mercedes wafting down the 401 at a buck-ten. Wanna gas it up out of Aque Minerale so you can carry speed all the way to Variante Alta? Well, again, that ability to push down on both rear wheels means that all of the 5.2L V10?s 442 poundfeet of torque is being managed by more rubber. Like I said, fantastic. More surprising, however, is that harnessing all this newfound ability requires no special skills or talent. So well controlled is the ALA system and so well integrated are its benefits into the basic Huracan?s (carbon fibre) chassis that the Performante is actually the easiest of supercars to drive fast, the extra loading you?re able to carry through corners making no extra demands on the driver. As for the rest of the Performante, the engine, as I said, gains 30 ponies, mainly as the result of lighter titanium valves that allow bigger bump camshafts without the risk of valve float. The exhaust is now rortier than ever and exits ? as is quickly becoming the supercar norm ? midway up the rear fascia. Inside, the Performante is just the right combination of ruthless German efficiency ? the infotainment system, for instance, is pretty much lifted from Audi ? and plush Italian hedonism. Fixed-back ?racing? seats are available, but only those of limber lower lumbars should opt for them; otherwise, the super comfy sport seats offer more than enough bolstering. Surprisingly, toggling the suspension into its ?strada? street mode results in a decent ride, Lamborghini somehow managing to mostly disguise the stiffer suspension and bushings. As for looks, the Huracan is still a little too boy racerish for me, as if its owners were worried the masses would somehow miss their entrance if the darned thing wasn?t painted bright lime green. The addition of a bit of some au naturale carbon fibre helps mute things a little, but if there?s a reason to not buy this Lamborghini, it?s because the entire visual is a little outré, unless, again, you?re an attention-seeking hipster. Other than that, this latest Huracan, in complete contrast to the company?s fast-but-maniacal Countach, is the complete supercar. It is fast without being scary, makes modern aerodynamic advancements manageable and never, ever puts a wheel wrong. There?s a reason the Performante now holds the Nurburgring record. The 2018 Huracan Performante will be in Canadian Lamborghini dealerships this fall. Yours for a mere $302,565. doug cameron?s

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