• Mid-cycle refresh makes a big difference
  • 631-horsepower V10 gets the Evo from 0-62 mph in 2.9 seconds
  • New LDVI "brain" predicts a driver's needs
  • U.S. pricing starts at about $261,000

As expensive as its cars are, Lamborghini is a minnow in the automotive world. Its worldwide sales of 5,750 last year — up some 50 per cent from the year before, mind you — are about the same as upstart Tesla produces in a week. Its total revenue is probably a rounding error in the Volkswagen Group’s annual quarter-trillion Euro turnover. However, Lambo’s Chief Technical Officer Maurizio Reggiani keeps finding ways to spur development on a shoestring.

Take the Lamborghini Huracan by way of example. All wedge styling and rorty engine, the original Huracans were not the stuff of supercar legend, kinda floppy and soft compared with competitive Ferraris and McLarens.

The Huracan becomes the king of the Nordschlieffe

Then along came the Huracan Performante. Judging from its spec sheet, little was expected of the seemingly mildly upgraded Lambo. Its 30-horsepower gain — up to 640 hp — was modest and, other than a little aerodynamic trickery, the basic Huracan was little changed. The basic chassis was the same. Ditto the engine save some titanium valves and a little inlet work. And yet, the Huracan Performante went on to become the quickest car around the Nürburgring despite a (relative) paucity of power. Turns out Reggiani and gang really did know a thing or two about aerodynamics and a sow’s ear was transformed into a silk purse.

Now, they’ve pulled the same kind of trick with the 2020 Lamborghini Huracan Evo. Oh, the list of upgrades to this Huracan reads a little longer — 4-wheel-steering (4WS), torque-vectoring all-wheel drive (AWD), and an updated magnetorheological suspension — but those are tried-and-true rather than earth-shattering technologies. With no big wings or Performante-style aeros, no fleshier tires promising unearthly grip, and no huge horsepower increase — the Evo is powered by what is essentially the same 640-hp 5.2-liter V10 as the Performante — it was hard to see how where the promised performance upgrade would come from. Indeed, the biggest question I had regarding the new Evo was whether it really would be worthy of a 14-hour flight to Bahrain to sample. And yet...

Huracan gets smart

The new Huracan Evo is yet another revelation from Lamborghini. What it loses to the Performante in outright (aerodynamic) grip, it makes up for in agility. What deficit it has in lap times, it more than compensates for with user-friendly playfulness.

It’s all because the Evo has a brain, says Reggiani, the chief engineer proceeding into a long-winded explanation — I’ll make mine shorter I promise — of how the new Huracan can actually predict what the driver is about to do rather than just react to what he, or she, has already done.

The brains of the operation

The Huracan’s new central controller is called the Lamborghini Integrated Vehicle Dynamics system (LDVI) and essentially it manages every component of the car — including the new/updated AWD, 4WS and adaptive suspension systems. More importantly says Reggiani, with all the data it gathers from all those subsystems, the LDVI can predict what the driver’s going to do next.

So intuitive is the Evo on a racetrack, for instance, that if you tromp on the brake pedal at high speed, the LDVI’s computer will anticipate that you want some serious speed scrubbing before you’re finished pushing pedal to metal. It then adjusts its suspension to prevent forward weight transfer and distributes brake pressure for more stability. Feather the gas with the steering wheel cranked sharply and this latest Huracan predicts you want tail-wagging oversteer and relaxes the traction control so you can slide those meaty 305/30 R20 rear Pirelli PZeros.

Even in more pedestrian circumstances, the system is always the attentive Boy Scout. Every 20 milliseconds, the Evo tries to guess — Lamborghini would say "compute" — what you’re going to do next. Say you just happened to be trundling along in a straight line at a consistent, casual speed and suddenly yanked the wheel sideways. Well, LDVI would intuit that you’re trying to avoid something — be it man, beast or pothole — and would engage all-wheel-steering to quickly ratchet around the problem before you’d even finished turning the wheel.

All this anticipation can seem a little uncanny. Where the original Huracan was unapologetic about understeering and the Performante version seemingly on aerodynamic rails (thanks to copious wings and diffusers), the Evo happily oversteers. Hang the tail out and it’s almost as if the car has a plan rather than just waiting for you to catch it. Typically, traction control systems play a herky-jerky catch-and-release game when you’re sliding the rear end, the engine pumping out a staccato burb-burp as it cuts ignition to try to modulate the oversteer. The Evo, on the other hand, performs the most lurid slides, even at high speeds, with such a smoothness that it’s easy to start fooling yourself that you actually know what you’re doing.

Meanwhile, the new Evo steers with a quickness belying its 103-inch wheelbase (that’s the 4-wheel steering system turning the rear wheels steering “out of phase” — in the opposite direction — with the fronts). On the other hand, make a sideways course correction at, say, 100 miles per hour, and its stability is Mercedes-like, Reggiani again crediting the 4WS system, this time rear wheels steering in the same direction as the fronts.


It’s also very quick

The new Evo is powered by basically the same 5.2-liter V10 that drives the once-quickest (around the Nürburgring) Performante. Compared with previous Huracans, it revs higher thanks to titanium inlet valves, breathes deeper thanks to revised exhaust tuning, and at maximum revs — 8,000 rpm — pumps out 631 horsepower through a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. That’s good enough to accelerate the 3,135-pound Evo to 62 miles per hour in 2.9 seconds and top out at a heady 200+ mph. It growls at idle, barks on overrun, and at 8,000 rpm, its ten pistons emit a howl that will make you wonder if saving the planet really is worth going electric. It's more comfortable

The Huracan gets a mild interior upgrade this year, probably the most important item being the 6-way-adjustable driver’s racing seat made by Lear. Previous sport seats were one-piece Kevlar affairs which, while plenty light and mondo-rigid, were totally non-adjustable -- there was no way to fit them to your particular ergonomic needs. The new versions are almost as light and rigid, but allow height, tilt and longitudinal adjustment. They also come in three sizes so that their extra side bolstering can be tailored to all. Their only fault is that they won't be available for about six months, so if you really want the lightest seats Lamborghini makes for the new Huracan, you might want to hold off a little.

It’s also a little more modern

A new 8.4-inch touch screen, the first such infotainment system in the supercar portion of Lamborghini’s fleet, says Reggiani, is also a new addition. It’s a surprisingly competent system, full of apps and a nifty digital readout of all those new torque-vectoring and 4-wheel-steering technologies.

Despite these performance and creature comfort gains, it is Lamborghini’s new “brain” that is the highlight of the Huracan Evo. None of its individual talents — torque-vectoring, 4WS or adaptive suspension — would matter a fig if they weren’t working in harmony. Indeed, if there is one thing about this new Evo — and the Performante before it — that impresses, it is how much Lamborghini accomplishes with so little. The additions to the new Huracan are, in the grand scheme of supercar innovation, fairly pedestrian. And yet, just like the Performante — which was likewise not so greatly changed other than its aerodynamic package — its performance is greatly enhanced. If there is ever an award for the supercar that gets the most performance out of the most minimalist upgrades, Lamborghini is a shoe-in for the gold medal. The addition of a LDVI smarts has rendered this newest Lambo one of the most entertaining supercars around.

The 2020 Lamborghini Huracan Evo will be available in the U.S. later this spring with an MSRP of $261,274.

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