Test Drive: Lamborghini Huracan EVO

The company's smartest iteration yet blends masterful performance with intelligent design

Just 2.5 miles of asphalt make up the road circuit known as Big Willow at the classic high desert track, Willow Springs, but they’re certainly not for the faint of heart. Affectionately dubbed the “fastest track in the west” and revered for its demanding old-school layout, Big Willow features not one, but two sweeping double apex corners, each with undulations that must be respected. It also features an elevation change in The Carousel, a blind right-hand corner, and a back straight where speeds can surpass 150mph. It’s a course that can be thoroughly enjoyed in a low horsepower, low-weight vehicle. However there’s a big difference between an enjoyable experience and an unforgettable one, and lapping Big Willow in a supercar is certainly unforgettable, especially in what may well be the smartest supercar ever built: the Lamborghini Huracan EVO.

To understand what makes driving the Huracan EVO such an engaging experience, one must have a basic grasp of what makes a Lamborghini so desirable in the first place. For a number of individuals, that desire is of a wholly superficial nature that starts and ends with the badge and the image associated with driving a Lamborghini. But what made a Lamborghini desirable in 1966 (when the Miura arrived on the scene) is still the same thing that makes on desirable now, a rear-mid-mounted naturally aspirated engine and a focus on ultimate driver engagement. Everything else that comes with a Lamborghini can be viewed as bonus content. With the latest evolution of the Huracan, the appropriately named EVO has taken the bonus content to a new level.

Sliding into the familiar fighter jet-style cabin, the most welcome change is immediately apparent. Gone for good is the outdated Audi-derived MMI system, replaced by an excellent eight-inch capacitive tablet style touch screen that looks like it should have been there all along between the top row of switches and the signature flip up “missile-launch” engine start button.

Outside, some subtle styling changes have further tightened up the Huracan’s look and improved aerodynamics to the point of netting seven times more downforce than the previous model. The new integrated spoiler looks the part too, much more rakish than the wing of the Huracan Performante. What remains the same is the absolutely dialed driving position. Confidence begins with a view directly down to the road, a steering wheel that you’re hard pressed to let go of and a seat that can be adjusted precisely to your preference.

The idea behind the next evolution of the Huracan was to take that confidence to new heights through the use of a “central brain” that processes all the calculations of the driver-assistance systems and inputs from the driver before spitting out an optimal result. Dubbed LDVI (Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Integrata), this new system operates faster and with more fluidity than any before it, raising the level of harmony between driver and car. In practice, it should come as no surprise that it takes some getting used to.

There’s no question that the Huracan EVO is the smartest supercar Lamborghini has ever made and it makes a strong case for holding that distinction across all brands. What’s quite apparent after some control exercises and laps around Big Willow is that it’s going to take a good amount of seat time for our brains to form new neural pathways that jive with what the LDVI perceives as optimal. Hardcore as it may be, the Huracan Performante is easy to trust implicitly under the most demanding road conditions and when chasing what you perceive as its limits. The Huracan EVO should be even easier to trust, but with the addition of rear-wheel steering and the LDVI, it’s tough to give over to it completely.

Each lap has moments of sheer brilliance; the kind of turn-execution that a driving enthusiast dreams about. The car settles into a line perfectly when you’d expect it to dance, and has brutally quick acceleration. However, each lap also has moments that feel completely unsettling—especially when braking hard off the front straight where 154mph briefly flashes across the digital dash. The feeling of the car squirming about when erasing a serious amount of speed is never welcome, certainly not in a lithe supercar. Having had a limited amount of time behind the wheel, it’s hard to say how much of that feeling is an issue with the car and how much of it is an issue with the human brain.

In terms of outright performance, the balance is still in favor of simplicity and minimizing human error. As much as the Huracan EVO is about performance, it’s also about continued viability and being useable in the real world, and that means making drivers feel like they’re winning every time they get behind the wheel. The Huracan EVO is undoubtedly a giant leap forward for Lamborghini, a wonderful car that has a lot to offer. However, they’re standing on new ground now and it remains to be seen if their footing is solid. Only further refinements to the formula will tell us whether or not they do—that and lots more time in the driver’s seat. Fortunately the Huracan EVO Spyder is not far off, so perhaps sometime soon we’ll get a chance to see for ourselves.

Images by Andrew Maness