This article originally appeared in Sellebrity, Volume 1, Number 1.

When something new arrives that can’t be pinned down by existing labels or categories, it’s time to create some new words; such was the case in 1966 when Lamborghini introduced the curvaceous Miura. With a revolutionary mid-engined layout, aggressively flamboyant styling by Bertone graduate Marcello Gandini and an unheard-of top speed of 174 mph, the Miura was more than just the fastest car in the world. It was the world’s first supercar.

The Miura was the opening salvo in the Ferrari vs. Lamborghini battle for exotic car supremacy that continues to this day, and without the market created by this new genre of luxury toy, there would be no Pagani, MacLaren, Koenigsegg or Bugatti supercars today.

But while Lamborghinis have always been quick, their wild styling and bull-in-china-shop attitude gradually became higher engineering priorities than handling, refinement and all-out speed. Conventional automotive wisdom has generally dictated that Lamborghinis exist to be seen in, while Ferraris exist to be driven.

Since Audi’s purchase of the company in 1998, however, Lambos have slowly become less like cudgels and more like scalpels. Even so, few things could be more shocking to the automotive world than this March’s announcement that the fastest production car around Germany’s famed Nürburgring circuit in Germany was…a Lamborghini.

Officially unveiled in June at Imola racetrack near Lamborghini’s home in Sant’Agata Bolognese, the 2018 Huracán Performante ingeniously combines the concepts of less-is-more and more-is-more to one end and one end only: speed.

More Power & Tech
In Performante trim, the Huracán’s 5.2 liter V10 boasts 631 hp, 29 more than the standard car. Peak torque similarly rises to 443 lb-ft, a gain of 30. But speed requires more than just power; the Performante’s springs have been stiffened by 10%, and thicker anti-roll bars, recalibrated dampers and stiffer bushings result in right-now direction changes and consistent power delivery to the super-sticky Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires.

Perhaps the most fascinating Performante performance upgrade is its active aero package, designated Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva (ALA) by Lamborghini. A front splitter and huge rear wing combine to create up to 770 lbs of downforce at 193 mph…but since downforce also creates drag, the ALA system automatically opens and closes grille flaps in front and wing air intakes in back to compensate.

Ingeniously, by controlling airflow with flaps instead of the complicated linkage seen in other supercars, lateral (side-to-side) adjustments can be made on-the-fly. This means that during aggressive cornering, acceleration or braking (or any combination thereof), the ALA can actively direct and balance airflow and vertical force to increase traction to the rear tires.

Less Weight, Same Grip
Colin Chapman, the legendary engineer and founder of Lotus, famously stated that the best way to make a car faster was to “simplify, then add lightness.” And while active aerodynamics can hardly be called “simplification,” the Performante’s weight loss strategy is key to its record-breaking performance.

The most obvious path to lightening the Huracán would be to remove its hefty all-wheel-drive drive system and revert to rear-wheel-drive, as seen on the Huracán LP580-2. But sacrificing the ability to rocket out of corners that’s offered by AWD means losing precious tenths of seconds at the racetrack…so any pounds shed would have to come from elsewhere.

Amazingly, the Performante still weighs in at 90 lbs lighter than the standard Huracán, thanks to a higher percentage of composite materials (molded under pressure, resulting in a unique tortoiseshell-like appearance), a new stainless-steel exhaust and titanium engine components. When factoring in the added weight of the car’s bespoke active aerodynamics, the net reduction is even more impressive.

Record Breaking Results
The Performante is as head-turning and brutal as a Lamborghini should be, but at its heart is bleeding-edge engineering and a holistic focus on performance. This is a car that demands your attention; the sonorous V10 revs seemingly instantly to its stratospheric 8500-rpm redline, so be ready with those carbon-fiber shift paddles unless you’re prepared for the embarrassment of bouncing off the rev limit within earshot of everyone within a half-mile radius.

The steering is similarly quick, and thanks to Lamborghini’s Dynamic Steering system, the ratio actually changes depending on which driving mode you’ve selected (most similar systems only adjust the weight and feedback).

Of course, in those instances when your driving skills get you into a bit more trouble than you’d intended, the Performanté’s fade-free carbon-ceramic brakes are more than up to the task of rescuing both you and your $280,000 steed. And with this much power, this much beauty and this much grip at your disposal, no one could possibly blame you for getting lost in the playboy race car driver fantasy. After all, that’s what supercars are all about.

Posted by thesesociety_0md1v7