A Highland fling with Lamborghini’s raging bulls
Rarely, and I mean VERY rarely, does an email drop into your inbox which has you reaching for your diary and clearing 48 hours. But when Lamborghini gives you the opportunity to drive seven of their models on some of the most demanding and exhilarating roads through the stunning Cairngorms … well, would you say “no”?
The drive couldn’t have come at a better time. Apart from the fact it came 24 hours before storm Arwen battered the Cairngorms and most of Scotland, it also allowed access to the current range of iconic V10 and V12 super sportscars before the luxury Italian carmaker embarks on a programme of hybridisation and electrification. More on that later.
I count myself exceedingly fortunate that I have previously driven the majority of the Lamborghini range. But I didn’t shy away from the chance to reacquaint myself with the Huracan Evo 4WD.
And if the experience confirmed one thing, it’s that supercars can behave just like city cars when they are required. Leaving our base in the centre of Edinburgh at 8.15am on a drizzly wet and cold morning, the Evo — which, it’s worth reminding ourselves, delivers 631bhp from its V10 and is capable of covering 0-62mph in 2.9 seconds (Oh … and a top speed of 201mph) — comfortably dealt with the stop-start, nose-to-tail commuter traffic.
Once out on the bypass, we set course for Perth, the A9 and then Pitlochry. And here the fun really began. My primary objective was to drive, for the first time, the Huracan STO; the road-going car Lamborghini believes takes the driving experience a step closer to the Super Trofeo Evo one make racer and GT3 Evo cars.
So ahead of driving back up the A9, past Dalwhinnie and Aviemore, before joining the A95 towards Grantown-on-Spey and veering off to the famous Old Military Road, I got my hands on the keys to the STO.
Right, let’s take a breath. The STO — Super Trofeo Omologato — is powered by the same 5.2-litre V10, delivering 631bhp and 416lb/ft of torque, as lifted from the Huracan Performante. But — and it’s a big but — whereas the Performante is four-wheel drive, the STO is purely rear-wheel drive.
Indeed, Lamborghini is unequivocal in stating it’s also the first car they’ve developed where track ability takes precedence over road driving.
Rather disconcerting then when, as I enjoy pushing what is essentially a road-legal race car, through some of Scotland’s most dramatic scenery, up pops the on-screen warning: “possible ice on the road”. And the outside temperatures eventually dips to just 1.5 degrees.
A good time then to throw some more figures at you. The STO has the same claimed 0-62mph time as the Evo 4WD. The difference is the near basic, and ferocious way the STO delivers its performance. Without question it feels faster. More nimble. More alert. More alive. And from standstill, just nine seconds later you’ll be doing 124mph. Not, I have to stress, that I put that to the test.
What else makes the STO special? It’s 43kg lighter than the Performante. Is fitted with rear-wheel steering. Has a thinner windscreen, which is 20% lighter. Plus magnesium wheels and carbon body panels.
And you may have clocked the from the photographs, but it has improved aerodynamics, helped in no end by the stunning rear wing configuration. Something you’re reminded of every time you glance in the rear view mirrors. Downforce is improved 53% over the Performante.
That achievement is further aided by fins either side of the spoiler which channel air towards it. Plus the car has a plethora of vents, channels, ducts and slats all aimed at channelling air to help maximise grip.
The STO also benefits from a sportingly-tweaked suspension, meaning new anti-roll bars, stiffer suspension bushes and two-stage magnetic ride dampers. Brakes? They’re Brembo’s CCM-R set-up: that’s the new carbon ceramic material brake disc for the racing market as, of course, like me, you already know.
Inside the cabin there’s a raucousness which sets you tingling. Road and tyre noise? Yes, there’s lots of that too. At low speeds the suspension is stiff and, unless the roads are billiard table-smooth, the car feels unsettled.
Is the Huracan STO — which, if you could buy one, would have set you back in excess of £260,000 before options which regularly took the price closer to £350,000 … but sadly they’re all now sold — the car you’d want to drive deep in the Highlands? No, of course not. But boy was it a nerve-sharpening experience. I loved it.
After a very brief drive through Tomintoul, it was back down the Old Military Road (the A939), past the Lecht Ski Centre before arriving in the dark at Braemar. The guy in the filling station couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw 10 Lamborghinis queuing up to be refuelled.
Next day heralded a drive down the A93 through Glenshee and stopping at the Devil’s Elbow, before heading west again on the B950 and A924 to Pitlochry, splitting the time behind the wheel of the audacious, £360,000, 6.5-litre, 760bhp, 0-62mph in 2.8s, Aventador SVJ; and the best-selling Urus SUV … in bright yellow, of course.
For the final hurl back to Lamborghini Edinburgh, it was roof down in the Huracan RWD Spyder: what better way to finish a 300-mile trip than by being able to hear that glorious V10 in all its might.
How long we’ll be able to enjoy the iconic engine noise from a Lamborghini V10 or V12 is uncertain, given the world’s move away from the internal combustion engine.
So I quizzed Francesco Cresci, Lamborghini director of the EMEA Region (Europe, Middle East and Africa), about the company’s plans for hybridisation and electrification.
Under its ‘Direzione Cor Tauri’ plan, the company will electrify its entire line-up by 2024, and add its first fully electric model by the end of the decade.
“People living around the big cities around the world — and in the UK that obviously includes London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh and Glasgow — will be directly impacted by the changes which are happening globally in terms of driving,” Cresci explained.
While the implementation of hybrid powertrains is set to further improve the performance of Lamborghini’s super sportscar range, the introduction of its first all-electric car could well take the form of a GT 2+2.
“We are working on a number of scenarios for the concept of the fourth model, our first all-electric car, to see what the best model is for us,” he continued.
“We definitely don’t want to introduce something which is going to canabilise sales of our Urus; but at the same time we want to launch a product which can fit into our product range and expend the customer base. So yes, a GT 2+2 is a good option.”