An approach that Lamborghini takes is to give potential clients not only a chance to see the car in the flesh but also give them a feel of it through its Lamborghini Accademia.
One such event was conducted recently in Buriram, Thailand where the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Asia Series was held that weekend at the new Chang International Circuit, reportedly a Grade A circuit like Sepang.
We had the privilege of joining more than 10 potential customers for a driving impression of all three Huracan versions, the LP 610-4 all-wheel drive coupé, LP 610-4 all-wheel drive Spyder (a cabriolet with electrically opening and closing soft top) and LP580-2 rear-wheel drive coupé.
Yes, we have driven the LP 580-2 in Taiwan earlier this year but this time we get to compare it to the all-wheel drive variant, including the Spyder, under race circuit conditions.
There were two additional events - the timed slalom section and trying to regain control of the Huracan while spinning on a wet section – that gave us a more rounded impression of what this exclusive sports car could do.
Automobili Lamborghini SEAP aftersales area manager Malcom Hillary said the rationale for three variants in the Huracan family was to cater to the respective tastes; the LP 610-4 appeals to those who like the stable four-wheel drive feel, the Spyder finds favour with those who like wind-in-the-hair driving and the LP 580-2 provides the fun factor in rear-wheel driving.
To differentiate between the LP 610-4 and LP 580-2, the ‘fangs’ of the lower front apron of the former is replaced by a box-section apron for the latter; only the LP 610-4 carries a model badge on the lower flank near the rear wheel and slight design changes to the rear.
Another distinct note is that the LP 580-2 comes with metal brakes with serrated ventilated brake discs all round while the LP 610-4 has carbon brakes and round ventilated discs.
For the Spyder, the soft-top roof is stored behind the seats electronically as there is no boot at the rear where the 5.2-litre V10 engine is located.
The model name refers to the power the respective model produces with the V10 engine; the LP 610-4 produces 610PS and the LP 580-2 delivers 580PS.
The 4.554km Chang International Circuit is part of the Buriram United complex; Buriram United is a football team that topped the Thai football league last year and there are grandiose plans to turn the area where the team is into a theme place for fans and tourists.
It includes a Buriram Village, comprising mostly food shops, and the Amari hotel; Buriram (which means city of happiness) lies to the northeast of Bangkok about an hour’s flight away and in a relatively mountainous province with Cambodia as its neighbour (that explains the many Khmer relics).
The drive arrangement was similar to that in Kaohsiung, Taiwan; we were split into groups for the respective routines under the controlled pace of a driving instructor.
We started with the Huracan LP 610-4, of which we had a drive impression in a different form in the 610PS Audi R8 V10 Plus in Ingolstadt, Germany not too long ago; yes, they share the same platform and mechanicals as both come under the Volkswagen Group.
We took off in Corsa (race) mode on the ANIMA (Adaptive Network Intelligent Management) Drive Selector Mode; it controls the car according to the mode selected in operating the engine, transmission, steering, suspension and electronic stability control.
The normally aspirated 5.2-litre V10 engine revved so strongly that we made the same mistake of going into the redline beyond 8,000rpm in the lower gears initially and had the engine cutting off.
With four-wheel drive and all that massive engine and torque distributed to four wheels, the LP 610-4 gripped the road well but had the tendency to understeer (that means it wants to go straight) as a result.
We had to pick our lines through the respective corner well before putting our foot down on the accelerator pedal to straight-line the corner; otherwise we would run off the track.
This dynamic characteristics reminded us of the Audi R8 V10 Plus and we had to keep our exuberance in check and take the tight corners at comfortable speeds.
There were two long straights that we could exceed 200kph briefly before slamming hard on the brake pedal and the carbon brakes showed virtually no sign of fade despite repeated hard use through the ‘esses’.
Next was the rear-wheel drive LP 580-2 and we were warned that the metal brakes would fade on repeated hard use and to anticipate this through the winding sections.
Its dynamic feel was completely different as the rear-wheel Huracan’s rear kept wanting to break away in an oversteer; we lost it once and though we tried to drift, our lack of experience had the rear going in the other direction.
Lifting our foot off the accelerator pedal was the best alternative as the LP 580-2 lost its momentum and we regained control to continue the drive.
This is the fun factor that Lamborghini wants to provide; as it is a livelier car through the corners with rear-wheel drive, it requires a bit more engagement to enjoy the drive.
Our conclusion was that we found it more exciting to drive the LP 580-2 as we preferred and enjoyed the livelier dynamic feel; we just had to be sure the front wheels were pointing straight when hitting the accelerator pedal.
This was also the reason that the rear-wheel drive LP 580-2 was chosen for the slalom and wet control routines.
Doing the slalom in first gear might sound slow but with all that torque charging in you have to work the steering quicker to get through without hitting the cones; we did ours by claiming only one cone and clocked the fastest time for our group.
The wet control routine was to experience how the Huracan rear-wheel drive can spin 360 degrees on slippery surfaces because of its sheer engine output.
We were to drive at 40kph through an artificially wet corner and floor the accelerator; instead our cautious side kicked in and we hit the brakes.
As we came to a standstill, our instructor smiled and repeated the advice: ‘Floor the accelerator’, which we did and achieved a complete turnaround.
This was done with the ESC (electronic stability control) turned off in the LP 580-2.
A subsequent run was made but we had to try and stop the spin by correcting the steering while lifting our foot off the accelerator.
The Huracan did more than a 180-degree turn before coming to a stop and the instructor seemed happy with our sufficiently quick reaction.
Unlike the other participants who were mostly potential Huracan customers, we could only savour this Lamborghini experience while it lasted – over about six hours.