A MotorTrend Best Driver’s Car winner doesn’t just make a talented amateur feel like a hero. It has to impress and inspire every driver, from a rookie to a pro. And in this aspect, there was no question: The Lamborghini Huracán Evo is the 2020 Best Driver’s Car. It all boils down to one thing: driver confidence.
A personal example: Many racing fans think the Corkscrew is the toughest corner at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, but they’d be wrong. Iconic? Yes. Thrilling? Ditto. Toughest? No. Rather, we go to the opposite end of the circuit, to the front straight, and investigate the infamous Turn 1.
Located just past the start/finish bridge, Turn 1 isn’t really much of a “turn” so much as a blind-crested kink that vanishes to your left as it dives toward a tricky, double-apex hairpin that will accordion a pack of cars into a frantic mess.
In any real sports car, you will hit the kink at well north of 100 mph. And although everyone has their favorite line, three things are certain: You have to keep your foot on the gas, you must have absolute faith in your car’s chassis as you get very, very light, and you have preposterously little space in the subsequent braking zone to cut your speed in half.
It feels like both an instant and an eternity. It’s a true test of a car’s character and of a driver’s intestinal fortitude. Your car’s rear end dances; your breathing stops. Frankly, it scares the hell out of me.
So there I was, ripping down the front straight in the Lamborghini Huracán Evo, closing in on 130 mph as I hit the kink. Reaching that point of mild terror, I awaited the car’s reaction—and my own.
I can list on one hand the number of street cars that have given me sufficient confidence to keep my foot down all the way over that crest. The Huracán Evo is squarely on the list. What’s more, among the 2020 Best Driver’s Car field, no other car, going that fast, provoked that same reaction from me. In that moment, I knew: The Lamborghini Huracán would win Best Driver’s Car. Again.
But don’t take my word for it. We always wait eagerly as MT ‘s pro driver for hire, Randy Pobst, screams each car up the front straight during his timed hot laps. Will he lift before the top of the hill? Not usually, not if the car is balanced and trustworthy. Usually, he’ll lift just after the crest. In the Huracán Evo, he kept his foot down over the crest then pulled an upshift and kept his foot in it even longer before braking for Turn 2. An upshift on the run down into Turn 2? That never happens.
“The braking was incredibly strong,” Pobst said. “On the second timed lap, I was really starting to feel confident. I went over the hill—I think we’re all the way into sixth gear at least over the top. The car’s moving, and I braked aggressively late.
“You can throw it into a corner like an idiot, and it would just do this beautiful little drift,” he continued. “It works as one—the steering, braking, suspension. It is emotionally satisfying, and it’s really attractive.”
It wasn’t just Pobst and me singing its praises after a lapping session, either. Every judge got out of the car babbling like a fool in love about how good it was.
“I’m not quite skilled enough to push the car to its limit all the way around the track,” senior features editor Jonny Lieberman said, “but maybe two or three times per lap the holes in the Swiss cheese would line up and I’d hit a corner just so. Damn, did it feel righteous.
“The Evo sang as it carved,” Lieberman added. “The gluey tires held. The stiff chassis rotated just the right number of degrees, and I rolled on the throttle. I’m salivating thinking about it. I felt like a hero. I felt like a champ. I felt like a pretty darn good driver.”
The actual champ liked it too: “Tremendous cornering grip, quick turn-in, real quick steering response, but absolutely planted in the back,” Pobst said, “and as I got more and more confident and aggressive, I could get a little bit of rotation, but I had to ask for it, which I like. I want to be the one making it rotate. I don’t want a car to do it on its own. And that’s where the Lamborghini was.”
It’s mechanical harmony, every input and feedback system working together. Every piece of the car that makes it go, stop, and corner is in lockstep with the others and with the driver. Every input you make, every response you get from the car, is exactly what you want and expect.
Above all, the Lambo doesn’t lose any of that sensation when you put it on a track. That is the failing of the Porsche 911 Turbo S; all those tingly feelings it gave you on the road got dulled on the track. The Lamborghini was always thrilling to drive no matter where or when. And it was as thrilling and confidence-inspiring on the open road as it was on the closed track.
Tearing through the valleys that define California’s Coast and Transverse ranges, the Huracán Evo lulls you into that perfect state of driving bliss, traveling incredibly, illegally fast without a conscious thought in your head. The Huracán allows you to be completely engaged in the moment, seeing braking points and apexes but sending the information directly to your hands and feet without analyzing the situation, reacting to the world rushing at you and feeling the car move about around you in precisely the way you instructed, as if it were an extension of your body.
“I’ve driven Lambos that were twitchy and itchy,” editor-in-chief Mark Rechtin said, “but after driving the BDC-winning Huracán Performante a few years back, I learned to trust the raging bull. And although the Evo doesn’t have the active aero technology of the Performante, it still instills this insane amount of trust in the driver.”
Yes, the Huracán is a two-time winner. That this car—which has continually, ahem, evolved into new forms since its launch in 2014—can still bring home the silverware against much newer supercar technology is a testament to the engineering talent in Sant’Agata Bolognese.
“You can drive it like you stole it, and it’ll be there for you,” road test editor Chris Walton said. “The steering and handling are world class. It makes all the noise. It has rear steering. On Trofeo Rs, the Evo lapped Laguna faster than the 911 Turbo S (on regular P Zeros) and only 2 seconds slower than the Performante with the game-changing ALA active aero system.”
Still, the Huracán Evo wasn’t perfect. Pobst somehow got the brakes to fade a little after a few laps, which he chalked up to new pads. Something in the passenger door was loose and rattling over bumps. The bulkhead between the cabin and the engine creaked like an old wood floor when you put some twist in the car entering or exiting a driveway. The iPad-sized touchscreen in the center console is full of indecipherable alien petroglyphs and impossible to use while driving.
And true, the Huracán was 0.58 second slower around Laguna Seca than the Ferrari F8 Tributo, but Pobst would eventually attribute the Ferrari’s lap time to the F8’s two turbochargers and the extra 81 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque they provided. Plus, the Ferrari had a brake rebuild before it went out on the course.
But when a car drives as well as the Huracán Evo, you forgive a lot.
“All that is ignored when you put your foot into the accelerator and you hear that guttural, window-shattering V-10,” Rechtin said. “You know every single dollar you spent was worth it. Mothers two counties away hurry their kids inside. We blew up the sound meter at Sonoma Raceway … and we were at Laguna Seca.”
Walton agreed: “We all kept making excuses for it because just listen to it!”
The noise is intoxicating. “There’s just something about this car,” Lieberman said. “Je ne sais … Luigi?”
Consider the cars it beat. The Ferrari F8 Tributo is an evolution of the 458 Italia and 488 GTB, which both won BDC. Not this time. In what world is a Lamborghini an absolute joy to drive on the track and a Ferrari a nervous, edgy nail-biter at the limit? This one, apparently. Lamborghini caught Ferrari napping and leaning on its Side Slip Control to bandage over the Tributo chassis’ shortcomings. Lamborghini made a better chassis then put excellent software on top of it.
The new Porsche 911 Turbo S is an absolute revelation to drive … on the street. It’s as much a religious experience on a back road as the Huracán Evo. Put both on a track, though, and the 911 goes cold and sterile. The Lamborghini just keeps hitting your dopamine producer like a game show contestant attacking the buzzer. And although the second-place Mustang Shelby GT500 was a beast and a bully at a (relatively) bargain price, it lacked the refinement and zhoosh required of a winner.
“Handling is aggressively stable, a rare combination,” Pobst said, “but the heart of the Huracán experience is that thrilling V-10. It’s beautifully loud, like a superstar rock concert, and constantly straining at the leash. This one inspires. The powerband goes from strong midrange to thrilling wails to redline and loves every fire of every cylinder.”
Lieberman agreed: “How much can we praise this 5.2-liter masterpiece of a V-10? Never enough! Engines like this will be gone soon, forever. Bless Lamborghini for keeping the 10 spark plugs lit. And this is the best version of this motor, lifted straight out of the Performante. Numerically down on power (and especially torque) compared to most of the BDC field, the Evo manages to be as quick if not quicker. How does it do that? A brilliant AWD system paired to a quick-shifting dual-clutch transmission.”
What really makes it special is that it can do everything, and it can switch personalities at the driver’s whim. Whether blitzing a racetrack, carving a tight canyon, roaring through a series of long sweepers, or loafing on an endless highway, the Huracán Evo is pure joy. Even mooching around town, the dual-clutch transmission avoids most of the herky-jerky issues such trannies often have. (Advice from Jonny: keep it in Sport; Strada had some balky moments.)
My experience: Tuesday afternoon, I whipped it around Laguna Seca and loved every second of it. Wednesday afternoon, I flung it all the way out on the notoriously twisty, hilly State Route 198 to its terminus, and I adored it just as much. Then I turned down a dead-straight country highway, put the car in Strada, and cruised at 100 mph for two hours, totally relaxed.
The next day, I took the Lamborghini to a proving ground where we’d film World’s Greatest Drag Race 10; the Evo popped off 10.5-second quarter miles all day long, tying the Ferrari and only two-tenths behind the 911 Turbo S despite being down on power and way, way down on torque. The only thing this car doesn’t give you is a cupholder.
“Yes, the Lamborghini with 631 horsepower is ferocious in a straight line,” Lieberman said, “but the Evo turning so well is the real news. Well, if you’ve been paying attention to what Lamborghini has been up to for the last half decade, this is not news at all. Many people just can’t get past the brand’s reputation for building loud, flashy, brash cars with big engines and not much else. Seriously, get that stereotype out of your mind.”
So you don’t get the Huracán Performante’s stunning ALA aero system, but the Huracán Evo is just as delicious going around a corner. And it costs $22,000 less to start and $33,000 less as tested than the winning Performante did three years ago.
I have judged all 10 Best Driver’s Car competitions, and I’ve found each one to have some kind of redemption story. Cars we might have snubbed in previous years suddenly make podium finishes, or midcycle improvements turn midpack finishers into winners: to wit, the middling Camaro that became the Z/28 (sixth to first), the lifeless McLaren MP4-12C that became the 570S (fifth to first), the overpowered SLS AMG that became the AMG GT S (eighth to first).
The Huracán Evo had nothing to redeem. The Huracán Performante was a phenomenal car and a runaway winner in 2018 against supposedly all-conquering cars like the McLaren 720S and Porsche 911 GT2 RS. Yet here, this year, the Huracán Evo actually devolved into a less advanced car than the ALA-equipped Performante, and it still won the title.
The Huracán Evo is just as thrilling, lustworthy, and confidence-inspiring—with only half the Performante’s hardware. The Huracán didn’t need to evolve. The competition still hasn’t caught up yet.
Source: Read Full Article