Early this year we watched the amazing video of the Huracan Performante not just humble the mighty Aventador SV but beat the Porsche 918 as well with a Nordschleife lap time of 6 min 52.6 seconds. Many could not believe that the Performante made a huge 30 second improvement over the normal Huracan where normally we expect gains of just a few seconds between succeeding model. Today we are gathered at the legendary Imola Race Circuit outside Bologna to set things straight and to gauge for ourselves just how good the Lamborghini Performante is. Imola is a very fast and complex circuit where in 1994 the life of legendary F1 driver Aryton Senna was prematurely lost. Its collection of medium and fast flat-out corners presents a daunting learning curve but nonetheless Lamborghini felt it was the ideal location to show the prowess of the Performante.
On the chassis side the engineers have stiffened up the bushings to give a more direct steering feel and increased the spring rate by 10 percent along with 15 percent increase in roll stiffness. This is to done to match the new bespoke P-Zero Corsa tyres carefully formulated to give the Performante phenomenal dry grip. But how do they account for the 30 second improvement over the Huracan? If each of the performance enhancing items of the Performante yield just a one second improvement over a minute of lap time they would still be far short of the result, right? However, one needs to consider that a single lap of Nordschliefe is around 7 minutes for supercars so this can add up to at least a 20 second reduction in timing. The last ten seconds is most likely due to the new Lamborghini works/test driver (formerly Pirelli test driver) Marco Mapelli. He navigates the Nordschliefe not only by corners but by the bumps on the track. He has been around the “Green Hell” so often he could possibly do it in his sleep.
But what can a normal driver gain from all this tech? We were about to find out even before our Sunday breakfast had a chance to digest as the pit crew are readying the fleet of Lamborghini Performante. Unlike the Gallardo Super Trofeo Stradale (STS) there is no 5-point harness to contend with so getting in is no more difficult than a normal Huracan. Unless you are masochistic enough to specify the rock hard carbon fiber fixed bucket seats, the electrically adjustable sport seats fit just fine and are far more comfortable. The engine fires up with a new ferocious bark making it obvious that weight savings in the new exhaust system is a result of having nothing much on the inside to impede the pulsating shockwaves emanating from each of the twenty exhaust valves. Moreover, titanium has a way of adding a characteristic timbre to the exhaust note.
The MagneRide system provides great control of the suspension but in Sport mode might be just a tad stiff for town use. It can be acceptable if you are a true gearhead but the Strada mode has it covered with the right blend of comfort and control for everyday use. Of course, to enjoy the new mellifluous soundtrack one has to endure the added firmness of Sport mode as there is no separate provision for the exhaust itself. Corsa mode is best reserved for the track. It will require the driver to do all the shifting as automatic gear shifting is deactivated. In return it provides no-nonsense, near-neutral handling to give you the best lap times. Sport is the mode that allows free rein from the electronic nanny and will allow some drifting but is the slower way around the track though far more entertaining.
In the previous generation Gallardo, Lamborghini introduced names like the Superleggera which is a hardened lightweight version and even the STS which was the road-going version of their Super Trofeo race cars. Combining the best from the two, the Performante combines weight reduction, firmer suspension with a power increase and a well-developed aerodynamic system. The ALA system is really the special ingredient that gives the Performante its staggering Nordschleife lap record and this has elevated the Huracan Performante to legendary status.