The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
By Miles Downard
This is something special isn’t it? The world’s third fastest production car to lap the famous Nordschleife circuit at the Nurburgring right here in our backyard. And what better a setting than the picturesque – and twisty – winelands region, whose many a mountain pass pay a small bit of homage to the Green Hell’s 154 corners.
The Lamborghini Huracán Performante is the ultimate incarnation of the company’s ‘baby’ super sports car. But the only baby thing about this striking piece of engineering is that it’ll make them cry, along with many adults. Sporting 470kW and enough torque to keep the earth rotating, it’s naturally aspirated 5.2 litre V10 engine sings all the way to 8,500 RPM while propelling this lightweight monster to 100kph in just 2.9 seconds, then on to 200kph in under 9 seconds all on its way to a whopping 325kph top speed.
Lightweight is quite an important aspect of the Performante. Tipping the scales at just 1,382kg, this Huracán benefits from many a patented Lamborghini technology, not least of which is a new kind of forged composite material used liberally through the body work to save 40 odd kilograms.
To keep all of this power and performance in check, the Huracán Performante sports an all wheel drive system and active aerodynamics. In a Formula One style bid in pursuit of both top speed on the straight bits and immense downforce in corners, Lamborghini developed a system of actuators to direct air flow both under and over the car, especially the rear wing, that’s constantly adjusted based on throttle position, yaw, speed and steering inputs to ensure your tyres are always as planted as physically possible.
And trust me when I say this was all very welcome through the twisty mountain sections of Franschoek and Du Toitskloof. With a howling V10’s wonderful sounds filling the cabin I set off in attack of the sweeps and hairpins that adorn the two areas. It’s an engrossing experience, drawing you to push both pedals ever harder as the straights and braking points come at you faster and faster. Good thing the car is equipped with carbon ceramic brakes, then. But more incredible is the speed which one can carry off the confidence inspired by grip levels I’ve never experienced in a road car before. That combination of all wheel drive and active aero is truly special.
Cooling things off a little I had the opportunity to explore the cabin. All rather typical of Lamborghini and by extension, the Italians. It just oozes cool, with liberal use once again of those forged composites throughout, accenting nicely against swashes of suede and leather. Colour coded stitching pops against the dark grey and black backdrop, along with the aluminium toggle switch gear. Then come the quirky bits. To roll the windows down, one pushes the toggle up and vice versa. The indicators aren’t mounted on a stalk but rather operate directly off the steering wheel with similar switch gear to what you’d find on a motorcycle. It’s all very Italian, adding to its immeasurable charm once you’ve mastered its secrets.
Read also: Lamborghini Aventador S: the screaming bull
What’s also rather remarkable is the Huracán Performante’s ability to dial everything back enough that I could navigate the likes of Stellenbosch traffic without too many difficulties. In ‘Strada’ mode (of the three modes, being Strada for street, Sport and Corsa for race) the exhaust note is kept to a minimum, the active suspension in its softest setting and steering is effortless. There’s enough room in the front storage compartment for two decently sized bags as well, should a weekend getaway grab your fancy.
Frankly this is a remarkable machine from Lamborghini. It’s blisteringly fast and exceedingly capable as a super sports car yet will equally handle a gentle weekend getaway. Yet in my books its trump card is its mere presence. No matter the situation, you’ll always find yourself turning around for one last look before you slip out of view. It’s intoxicating in every sense of the word.
Pricing from R6.09m with a three year drive plan.
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.