2017 Lamborghini Huracán Performante First Drive: A New Force
Lambo’s new technology redefines active aero…with astounding results
The most fascinating aspect of the new Lamborghini Huracán Performante isn’t its increased power, new tires, reworked suspension, or improved ABS system. It isn’t its recalculated stability and traction control programs, upgraded transmission, or decreased weight, either.
Nope, the part of the Performante that’s going to excite you supercar lovers the most is ALA. That’s short for Aerodynamica Lamborghini Attiva, and the folks from Sant’Agata have just patented it because ALA is an entirely new way to do active aerodynamics.
That isn’t all that’s improved, though. Power is up! And that’s always a good thing. Especially when your garden variety Huracán is capable of producing “only” 602 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque from its 5.2-liter naturally aspirated V-10. For Performante duty, the engine gets new intake and exhaust camshafts, an air intake borrowed from the gentlemen racer Super Trofeo Huracáns, and a new exhaust system that relieves backpressure. The result is 25 to 40 more horsepower and an additional 30 lb-ft of torque. Assume that final numbers will be between 625 and 640 hp and 453 lb-ft of torque. They’re still working out the details. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission has also been re-optimized for crisper, smarter shifts. The last time we tested a Huracán, it hit 60 mph in 2.8 seconds. Expect the Performante to be quicker.
Weight is down by about 90 pounds, thanks in part to that new exhaust system, which alone reduces fat by nearly 25 pounds. The rest of the weight loss is due to increased use of forged carbon fiber composite, or Forged Carbon (FC) as Lamborghini would like you to call it. The largest single piece of FC on the Performante is the rear wing, which is where the bulk of the ALA magic happens.
A side note: There was an internal fight at Lambo in regard to the car’s name, with none other than board member and R & D boss Maurizio Reggiani thinking Superleggera was the better moniker. However, because the primary focus of the car is performance and not lightweighting, Reggiani and several others were overruled.
The suspension has been massively reworked. The electric lime green Huracán with fixed dampers that I drove for an “Ignition” episode had brilliant handling. To be blunt, the other one—our long-term Huracán—with magnetic dampers, did not. That dark gray MR car pushed and understeered, and it felt a bit mushy (it also weighed 200-plus pounds more somehow). It simply wasn’t as sweet. It’s important to remember, though, the Huracán was Lamborghini’s first use of magnetorheological shocks; They didn’t do a great job. The Aventador Superveloce was their second effort, and based on that alone, my mind was at ease. The Performante represents something of a third draft, and the results are stellar.
What’s different? For one, the aforementioned shocks have been retuned to deal with the fast-acting active aero gear and as a result are much stiffer. The springs and anti-roll bars are retuned to provide 10 percent more vertical stiffness and 15 percent more roll stiffness. All the bushings are about 50 percent stiffer to cope with the stickier tires. The adjustable steering has been revamped, though most of the changes are in Corsa (track) mode. The Performante also gets newly developed special-application high-performance Pirelli P Zero Corsas. This caused the all-wheel-drive system to be reprogrammed and the ABS system to be reworked. Brake pedal feel is also improved. Finally, the ESC system was revamped. Because the Performante is more stable than the regular Huracán, ESC is less intrusive. Switch into Sport mode, and you’re essentially in Drift mode.
Then there’s ALA, for which you can thank Antonio Torluccio, Lamborghini’s head of aerodynamics and previously an engineer on both the V-10 and V-12 programs. Torluccio describes ALA as a smarter way to do active aero. Think about traditional active aero, such as on the Bugatti Veyron or Lamborghini’s own Centenario. Typically you have a large wing on some hydraulic struts. Based on conditions, the struts change the wing’s position. It works, but there are two drawbacks. One is speed, as most hydraulically adjustable wings need about a second to move fully from one position to another. The second is weight, as hydraulic fluid is heavy.