Jethro Bovingdon reviews the brilliant Huracán STO and its ‘Celebration of the Combustion Engine’.
We’re already big fans of the Lamborghini Huracán EVO RWD so it’s no surprise that expectations for the new STO (Super Trofeo Omologato) are sky high. The concept is simply to combine the fun and ‘emotion’ of the Super Trofeo one-make racecar and the competitive spirit of the GT3 racer into a hardcore road-legal package. At least that was the marketing line. Just think of the STO as the Huracán in its purest, lightest and most aggressive form and you’ll get a better idea of what it’s all about. It is Lamborghini’s take on a Pista or LT.
Or should that be Lamborghini’s take on a 458 Speciale? Because, of course, the STO retains its glorious naturally aspirated 5.2-litre V10 that powers only the rear wheels and focuses much more on balance, agility and lap times than raw power figures. In fact, the V10 is untouched and produces an unfashionably ‘ordinary’ 470kW at 8000rpm and 565Nm at 6500rpm. Enough to get it to 310km/h and from 0-100km/h in 3-seconds dead, but in the wake of the recently announced Ferrari 296 GTB (610kW) it’s very clear Lamborghini is following its own path. The STO costs from $596,000 and the first year’s production is already sold out.
There’s so much detail work in the STO. Weight is chased out wherever possible and has created some really cool features. As well as the usual tricks of thinner glass, optional magnesium wheels and extensive use of carbon fibre panels (everything but the roof and door skins is composite), Lamborghini has adopted a single piece for wings, bonnet and front bumper called the ‘cofango’ that calls to mind the front clamshell of a Miura. Functional and evocative, which is sort of the whole philosophy behind the STO. The result is a dry weight of 1339kg… some 43kg lighter than the Performante. Not bad, but some way off a 765LT and you might expect a bigger weight saving considering it’s lost the four-wheel drive system, too.
Aero is a big focus for the STO, too. Gone is the unique ALA system that tried to help turn the Performante by varying the aero load across the width of the car and in its place is a more conventional but more powerful system. The STO’s huge rear wing can be manually adjusted between low downforce (324kg at 280km/h), mid (363kg) and high (420kg). The cofango – complete with louvres to exit hot air from the wheel wells and bonnet vents to extract hot air from the radiators – is also a powerful tool in the aero set-up, and the shark fin on the rear deck is said to improve yaw stability. Overall aero efficiency is improved by 37 per cent, with downforce 53 per cent up on the Performante.
The STO also adopts the latest CCM-R brakes from Brembo and a new bespoke Bridgestone Potenza tyre in Sport or Race configurations. The latter is the equivalent of a Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2R and whilst isn’t quite as quick over a single lap is said to have more stable characteristics and greater longevity. There are three new driving modes on the ANIMA system – STO for road driving, Trofeo for the track and Pioggia for rain. These act on dampers, traction control and ABS settings, exhaust sound, torque-vectoring and the rear-wheel steering system. Lamborghini has also removed the Dynamic Steering system, so the steering ratio is always the same at 13.4:1. Praise be to all that’s good and holy.
After two hours of near-continuous lapping at Vallelunga we’re confident enough to say that the STO is pretty special on track. Some things are very predictable: The engine and 7-speed DCT ‘box remain absolutely sublime. An F8 might hit harder, a 765LT might feel even more manic at the top end, but for response, noise and giving you instant, millimetre-perfect access to the chassis no other supercar in this sector comes close. It is jaw-droppingly fierce, possessed of wonderful accuracy (Lamborghini has introduced a much more linear throttle map for all ANIMA settings so the somewhat binary response of the old Corsa mode is eradicated) and it creates a noise to make you weep for joy.
Less predictable is the wonderfully fluid, adjustable feel that characterises the car. I’d expected lots of grip and stability but a slightly more prescriptive experience. Lamborghinis often lack the delicacy of rivals, yet, the STO blows that preconception out of the water. It feels light, agile and really responsive to anything the driver asks of it. The mildly tail-led high speed balance is simply gorgeous and the car feels at once playful and completely on your side. The old cliché that Huracáns doggedly understeer can be laid to rest.
The Bridgestone tyres and brakes deserve a special mention. Their performance is astonishingly consistent even with a track temperature hovering around 60-degrees Celsius and a series of rapid-fire sessions of four or five fast laps. The lap time drop-off was negligible all day and the brake feel – once an Achilles heel of Lamborghinis – is very good indeed. For me, the steering lacks the absolute clarity of, say, a Porsche 911 GT3 but we’ll reserve final judgement on that on the road where the subtle messages of a great steering rack are much more noticeable and important.
On-road, the experience doesn’t falter as overtly track-focused specials so often do. That wonderful, approachable balance is just as acute. Of even greater surprise is the suspension, which seems to be able to find equilibrium with the road surface that belies its impregnable body control. Over rough roads, the steering remains uncorrupted and doesn’t jitter around in your hands as the weighting on track might suggest. The brakes meanwhile are just immense on road, and every one of its 465kW feels like it’s being translated onto the road with almost supernatural levels of traction.
True, we’d like more variability in the driver modes, and it’s hardly a relaxing experience to endure the bucket seats and road noise over longer journeys, but we can think of few contemporary supercars that fly so high.
Our favourite slide on the STO press presentation was simply entitled ‘Celebration of the Combustion Engine’. This hardcore Huracán delivers on that promise but is so much more than just a platform to demonstrate that mighty 5.2-litre V10. It’s not cheap at $596,000, but it delivers an intense driving experience and one that easily stands toe-to-toe with rivals from the likes of Ferrari and McLaren.