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New models - Lamborghini - Huracan - LP 580-2

First drive: Lamborghini Huracan LP580-2 blasts in

Blown away: With just two driven wheels and 426kW, the new Lamborghini Huracan LP580-2 does not need turbochargers to be a track sensation.

Sports Lamborghini models to remain under naturally aspirated power for now

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Lamborghini logo21 Apr 2016

By DANIEL GARDNER

LAMBORGHINI is sticking with its pair of normally aspirated petrol engines for both entry-level and flagship sports models, despite growing pressure from emissions regulations, which are increasingly forcing car-makers into forced induction.

While the forthcoming Urus SUV newcomer will use a turbocharged engine in at least one of its two engine variants, the Italian car-maker says that the successor to both V10 Huracan and V12 Aventador two-seaters are likely to stick with natural aspiration too.

In the case of its most recent addition, the Huracan LP580-2 has managed to hold on to its atmo 5.2-litre V10 engine while all of its key rivals – the McLaren 670S, Ferrari 488 GTB and Porsche 911 – have all made the jump to turbocharged inductions.

Speaking at the Lamborghini Esperienza drive day at Phillip Island, Lamborghini Asia Pacific general manager Andrea Baldi told GoAuto that engineering relatively low-emissions naturally aspirated engines was a challenge, but the company was not planning on turning to turbos yet.

“Today, to have a naturally aspirated engine with current regulations, it's a matter of skills and we have the skills so we are able to sell cars that are naturally aspirated,” he said. “It's an uncommon achievement in that sense.

“For the future we have to see how the regulations will evolve. Let's see because we still have many chances to improve our products lightweight technology for example to reduce emissions and other systems as well.

“Let's see if we can catch up with technology and reduce our emissions at the same speed as the regulation changes.”

With forced-induction, mid-engine layouts, the Ferrari 488 GTB produces 492kW, the McLaren develops 419kw from a similar arrangement, while Porsche's 911 Turbo S manages 427kW, but Lamborghini technical project leader Riccardo Bettini said the company was not playing a power game with its rivals.

“It's a number, but it's not really directly connected to performance,” he said.

While Lamborghini's competitors release ever more powerful models, the raging bull's latest incarnation of the Huracan has bucked the trend with its LP580-2 variant, which has 23 fewer kilowatts than the initial 449kW 610-4 but weighs 33kg lighter and has just two driven wheels.

Mr Bettini explained that power is only one element of the high-performance car formula and, in the case of its competitors, peak output is never fully exploited due to stability controls interrupting the transmission of power to the road or circuit.

“At the moment it seems more of a trend to run for the maximum power, more than the maximum performance. At the moment we have a lot of comparisons at test tracks and the Huracan is still the fastest.

“As we see with the two-wheel drive, with our competitors they have to cut the excessive power. You're not using it.”

Mr Baldi repeated the sentiments of Mr Bettini and said the company had no intentions of introducing a new powerplant for the Huracan to try and steal the top power prize.

“It has to be usable power. You need find a balance with the technology. You have to control that power, then you need to find the right power and we have plenty of it,” he said.

“We have one engine per model so until the end of the life cycle of this car we will never even think of changing.”

Mr Bettini concluded by saying that engineering to reduce emissions further was possible for future models but taxation of higher-emission cars, which is passed on in the asking price was not putting off customers, and people are happy to pay a premium for a typically more pleasing naturally aspirated exhaust note.

“Honestly at the moment we don't see big needs to change the architecture because you have a very big overlook into what are the future trends in regulation. At the moment, what is more impacting is the taxation more than the homologation.

“It is the customer who has to pay more tax and considering these (cars) are toys, they buy the cars to enjoy, not to commute to the office. This kind of fee can be afforded for a car that sounds like this more than a turbo.

“At the moment, the cycle for homologation is not so impossible with these kind of engines. The catalyst is very high-performance so you don't loose much power and you have a lot of opportunity to tune the sound. Until we are forced by law, we will stick with this concept.”

For the new Huracan variant, Lamborghini has removed the drivetrain that provides torque to the front wheels in the LP610-4 version and detuned the engine to 426kW.

Despite the power and traction reduction, the new Huracan takes only 0.2 seconds longer than the 610-4 to accelerate from zero to 100km/h – 3.4s. That feisty figure is thanks in part to a weight reduction of 33kg.

Other notable differences include smaller 19-inch wheels replacing the 20s of the four-wheel drive, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it alteration of front and rear bumpers, and iron brake rotors replacing the carbon-ceramic discs of the flagship.

With less kit, Lamborghini's latest addition is the most affordable model in the line-up costing $378,900 before on-road costs and undercutting its more potent sibling by $49,000.

GoAuto got behind the wheel of the Huracan LP580-2 at the Phillip Island raceway to see if the modifications have resulted in a softer diet-Huracan option or a full-fat playful and enjoyable version of Lamborghini's most popular car to date.

If a full-chat blast out of the pits is anything to go by then the detuned V10 has lost nothing of the gorgeous exhaust note when in the back of the 610-4, and no difference is perceptible when directly compared with the 449kW version.

Little can be distinguished in straight-line acceleration either, with the lighter version covering tarmac from a standstill with all the apparent ferocity and aggression of its more powerful stable mate.

However, the two could not be more different when shown a corner, with the 610-4's almost anodyne ability to carve through bends replaced with a squirming playful rear-drive character.

Where many manufacturers brag about near 50:50 weight distribution, Lamborghini proudly advertises the 580-2's 40:60 split, which has been deliberately engineered along with a softer suspension set-up and reprogrammed stability electronics for a tail-happy time.

Hard braking into corners causes the Lambo to wriggle around with delightful energy, but the sensation is never unsettling thanks to one of the most communicative chassis on the market.

The two-wheel drive Huracan shouts warnings at the driver through the deep sports seats and excellent steering like almost nothing else, and the balance and poise of the car through fast cornering is simply brilliant.

There is no sense that excessive downforce or racing slick tyres are boosting mid-corner grip and there is a beautiful natural feel to the Huracan's cornering manner. It is just you and the car.

The Huracan's Gallardo predecessor was also offered in rear-drive configuration and, although we never had an opportunity to drive the LP550-2, many accounts described the variant as somewhat of a widow-maker and not for the feint-hearted, but the Huracan version couldn't be further from it in terms of approachability.

Like the 610-4, the rear-drive has the choice of Anima Strada and Sport driving modes, but to select anything other than Corsa mode on a circuit is to waste such a dynamic chassis.

With the most playful mode engaged, the Huracan is not the manic terrifying tyre-shredder you might expect, but a predictable and progressive machine that rewards the careful foot and hand when piloted smoothly.

Corsa mode is a revelation and a stab of the throttle at the exit of a corner sends the tail wide with the grace and predictability of a long-wheelbase front-engined coupe.

That said, when handled less gently, the 580-2 will not snap back at a careless driver with sudden oversteer or other unpleasant character traits. It is superbly balanced with one of the most communicative chassis out there.

Only Ferrari's new 488 GTB can compete with the balance and sharpness of the rear-drive Lambo, but in the case of the Huracan, its slightly more compliant ride and higher-revving engine instils a far greater sense that you are immersed in real metal, grease and carbon-fibre.

The new Huracan puts us in a difficult position because, unless outright lap times and sheer speed are your priority, then we can't think of a single reason to buy a Huracan 610-4 over its cheaper, lighter, better sibling.

With more grip and power, the all-paw version is certainly quicker point to point in the right hands, but the importance of seconds per lap completely evaporates when you are at the wheel of the 580-2.

By taking away half of the Huracan's driven wheels, Lamborghini has created a car that is twice as good.

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