DESERT STORM

MORE POWER, MORE AERO AND BETTER HANDLING... HAS THE ĎBABY LAMBOí JUST BECOME THE RAGING BULL OF CHOICE?

BY DANIEL GARDNER

OPEN THE door of the Lamborghini Huracan and slide out of its strangely hexagon-adorned cabin and youíll have a number of post-blast thoughts circulating your mind. You might be digesting the urgency of dual-clutch transmission shifts, pondering its underlying Audi DNA, or chuckling at how far the raging bull has come since the Diablo days.

However, of all the lasting impressions the four-wheel drive Huracan LP 610-4 and the rear-drive LP 580-2 leave you with, I promise you wonít be walking away craving a little more power. Nor will you wish its naturally aspirated 5.2-litre V10 could be a bit noisier. And Iím pretty certain you wonít deduct marks for just a little too much aerodynamic drag and not enough street presence.

Regardless of whether you hop in the all-paw version, or the (initially worrying but actually sublime) two-wheel drive option, in either coupe or Spyder form, each Huracan since its 2014 launch has adhered to the Lamborghini mantra: unapologetically irreverent, shamelessly conspicuous, fast.

And yet, the Italian manufacturer has decided that after five years of snapping driverís and onlookerís necks, the Huracan is in need of more power, enhanced agility, a more shouty report and slipperier aerodynamics.

Lamborghini calls it the Huracan Evo. And weíre not talking a mild mid-life facelift with a bit of slap and a snazzy limited edition boot badge. For a start the Evo is more handsome than any Huracan before it. No sheet metal has been changed, but unlike more mainstream cars, the Huracanís front and rear bumpers constitute a large chunk of real estate, giving the design team a big canvas to make changes.

Trademark Ypsilon vents now fill the prettier nostrils and contribute to 16 per cent more cooling air, while at the tail end a huge diffuser works with new underbody deflectors for more stability at speed. The pair of Supersport exhausts also now emerge half way up its hind and in the middle, while a slotted spoiler draws hot air out of the engine bay using the venturi effect, while adding downforce. Itís style and substance with up to seven times more aerodynamic and downforce efficiency.

Not only does the Huracan now fight the air less, it has more help from the atmo V10 to push through it. Borrowed from the mighty Performante, power is up to 470kW and torque peaks at 600Nm - enough to get from static to 100km/h in 2.9 seconds - also the same as the Performante. However, beyond the 10 cylinders buried deep in the Huracanís hold, the Evo is a very different beast.

While the Performante bullies the air into submission with ostentatious forged carbon-fibre spoilers and fins, the Evo has a more subtle, cooperative approach in its pursuit of speed. Itís still four-wheel drive, but unlike the Performante, the new Evo borrows the rear-wheel steering system from the obscenely aggressive Aventador SVJ.

LAMBO DECIDED THE HURACAN NEEDED MORE POWER, AGILITY, SOUND AND SLIPPERIER AERODYNAMICS

04 pub ammo facts: Bahrain circuit

ONE If a Formula One car of sand itís likely to vomit them back up onto the track along with its pistons

TWO engine In wear, an effort the owners to avoid identified the area a majority of the dust was blowing in from and spray glued it down

THREE surface Its was prized imported Graywacke from a quarry in Shropshire, England, to give the impression itís not in the middle of a desert

FOUR of turf 5000 was laid square and requires metres constant watering. Hereís a thought, maybe just build it somewhere else?

And if that wasnít enough, the Urus donated its torque vectoring. Itís like the Lamborghini engineers pulled all of their favourite parts off the shelves and threw them all at the updated Huracan. So you would expect it to be good thenÖ As a tantalising Huracan hors díoeuvre, chief technical officer Maurizio Reggiani lets slip that the car Iím about to drive is faster in parts of the Nardo test track than the Performante. Sounds like a challenge.

But testing the athletic ability of what promises to be a viciously capable machine on public roads would be like darts in the dark; bullseye, one-hundred-and-eighty, someone looses an eye. Itís exactly why I am standing in the surprisingly cool desert breeze craning my neck to look up at the Bedouin tent-inspired grandstand towering high above the Bahrain International Circuit. If this 5.4km, 15-turn track is good enough for Formula One, itís good enough for the Evo.

But far from elated, I return to the pits after an initial acclimatisation session disheartened. The Evo is unbearably twitchy to handle, almost invisible patches of dust snap the tail into a slide without warning, and the new exhaust is ringing in my ears like a drill sergeant. Iím the grunt. On top of a tricky circuit Iíve never driven before, thereís just too much to take in - sensory overload, but Iíve got all afternoon to work this out.

THEREíS A DELIGHTFUL LIGHTNESS IN THE EVOíS STEP AND THE TAIL WILL WAG ON THE THROTTLE

For its update, the Evo brings a system called Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Integrata (LDVI) - a central processor that masters all the dynamic elements of the car. According to its maker, the new technology is Ďpredictiveí and will allow a confident driver to safely dig deeper into the Huracanís ability than ever before. It works.

Out on the track again I push the Evo harder - much harder - and it transforms. The steeringís initial sensitive edge is chamfered off and allows precision positioning, while the rear wheels help carve the body through corners with unbelievable obedience. In faster bends the resistance to lateral movement is astonishing.

Even brash off-camber, uphill acceleration canít shake its composition and seemingly boundless grip. Unlike a Porsche 911 Turbo, however, the grip doesnít feel endless.

Thereís a delightful lightness in the Evoís step and the tail will wag under hard braking into corners, and itíll do it again when you open the throttle on exit. The tendency to understeer of the pre-update Huracan is notably absent though, replaced by a neutrality that allows breathtaking confidence and pace.

Itís fast in a straight line, too. Thanks to the new titanium valves, redesigned inlet manifold and peak power at 8000rpm, the naturally aspirated engine output builds from muscular in the mid-range to colossal near the redline. And the note - dear god, the note. Imagine Sirens covering a Joe Satriani solo with none of the distortion. And, if you can believe it, itís even louder.

A lap with LDVI off reveals how many of my mistakes the Evo had previously been hiding. Catching a slide has more snap, the tail fidgets with careless acceleration and high speeds are more unnerving.

Ironically, LDVI is so effective that youíre unlikely to ever realise itís working. The Evo makes you feel like a hero whether you deserve it or not.

The sun dives behind the dunes, but it doesnít call full-time on the fun because Bahrain is one of the few circuits in the world with day-quality flood lighting and Iím not paying the power bill. Instead, the circuit stays alive with the din of atmo power and I realise, unlike the MOTOR offices, synthetic light is better than the real thing. There are no shadows to hide nasty surprises, no mirages to fool and nothing to dazzle tired eyes.

After dark, the track is at its best - and so is the Evo.

THE EVO MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE A HERO WHETHER YOU DESERVE IT OR NOT

The stadium lights blink past at an epilepsy-inducing frequency and the digital speedo flashes 270-something before I smash the big pedal into the floor again. A few more laps to master turn 14 and I know the Evo would be blasting out even bigger numbers on the finish straight.

Ultimately itís utterly glorious, totally intoxicating and Iíve driven few cars that outwardly encourage you to push far harder than you think possible or sensible. If you take the Evoís lead, however, it will reward you with one of the most lively and effervescent characters youíre likely to encounter.

I leave the track as the brilliant globes blink out taking possibly more questions with me than answers. The Evo is resoundingly improved over the original Huracan and on a track it conceivably has the potential to embarrass even the Performante. However, Lamborghini says this is the easiest version to live with day-to-day and on the open road. I guess Iím going to have to meet this domesticated bull again - only next time, itíll be on red sand.