Touring Tuscany In One Of The World's Finest Sports Cars +VIDEO
By Nicholas Frankl
Senior Editor and Motor Racing Correspondent
The Auto Channel
TUSCANY, Italy - June 14, 2016: Lamborghini's second generation V10 has now been on the market for over a year and is still considered one the most desirable and capable mid-engined sports cars in the world. The overall wedge shape design may not be as adventurous as some would have liked (me included) but it's still significantly more aggressive and individual than practically anything else out there and anything coming out of its neighbor down the road in Maranello.
Having attended the launch of the spider version in Miami in January, I was already very familiar with the feel of the car, the deep sonorous 610bhp normally aspirated V10 mated to a new smooth, fast twin-plate clutch and 7-speed gear box.
Let me tell you, that like all super cars I know today, this is an easy car to drive that flatters the driver and allows one to accelerate, brake and turn at very high speeds very safely - so long as the driver has at least some ability to judge distances, which get much shorter when driving the Huracan!
The cabin is a little tight, due to the intrusion of the driveshaft to the front wheels, but otherwise comfortable and secure. The luggage space, however, is really a bad joke for a car that's begging for long trips with a gorgeous companion, and for this reason alone Lamborghini, whose sales - despite weak economies and cheap oil - are strong and building, will lose clients who need something a touch more luggage-practical.
Speaking of luggage, some of you may already be familiar with and in fact actually own one or more of Simone Schedoni's gorgeous pieces of luggage.
Third generation atelier Simone is a kind and passionate enthusiast who takes "hand made in Italy" very seriously indeed. His small family owned factory crafts tailor made bags and suitcases for most of the world's finest automotive brands.
For many years Schedoni also made the racing seats for the Ferrari F1 team and he still has the leather covering from different Berger, Prost, Alesi and Mansell cars including the burnt seat from Berger's crash at Tamborello, Imola.
He counts all the top Italian brands plus now Rolls Royce (whose new suitcase set will set you back approximately $50,000) and Bentley as his exclusive clients. It was interesting to learn which accounting departments are the meanest and consequently which luggage is the highest quality!
Touring his workshop and chatting with his mostly female workers (they have smaller fingers for fine stitching) was a treat, many having worked there since school and for over 30 years!
Where the Lamborghini designers failed on luggage capacity and one can imagine the internal struggle between sales, marketing, design and engineering, they won handsomely on the ergonomics.
The steering wheel is well designed and comfortable to use with brilliant and intuitive thumb buttons for indicators (straight out of motorcycles) and windscreen washers. They got it spot on with the horn, too, which is in the middle...where it should be!
The three modes, Strada (softer suspension, softer less aggressive gear change); Sport (firmer set up, more aggressive changes); and Corsa (full bore, but still comfortable unless on very rough tarmac) are changed very simply with a little red button at the base of the steering wheel. They are simple, fast and the mode does exactly what it says, without taxing the driver with 5 different modes for each component trying to "tune in" your car like you're qualifying for Monaco.
Ferrari on the other hand have managed to design a cluttered, confusing, and unnecessarily complicated driver interface which I personally hate, with McLaren not too far behind.
The Audi sourced multi-media / Nav is very intuitive, better than the competition, but to be frank none of them can match google maps on a mobile device for ease of input.
When I did use the built-in Nav to return the car to HQ, which included some spirited "Corsa mode" early morning driving through the hills and suburbs of Modena, the soothing female voice and processor was actually too slow to keep up with the car, which meant waiting at the roundabout or going around one lap waiting for it to tell me my exit!
Up in the mountains and blasting along the open and wide SP4 from Vignola to Montese, which features a thought provoking WW2 museum and details of the historic and strategically important region's liberation by US and British forces in 1944, the Pirelli P Zero's work hard and in tandem with the excellent carbon ceramic brakes that never let me down and provided reassuring feel, plus considerable stopping power, without squeaking or a hint of fade.
Touring the foothills of Tuscany and digging out great towns like Castelnuovo Rangone, Castelvetro Di Modena, Villa Bianca, Marano sul Panaro, Maranello, Sant A'gata, with boutique home made 25 year aged balsamic vinegar infused restaurants, is a totally delight to all the senses. The Italians here take their food very seriously in terms of quality and affordability with delicious (grand mama's secret recipe) pasta and meat entrees costing only €10-15 and local Lambrusco red and white 90 point wines at similar prices.
I'd recommend staying at Acetoria Sereni, run by Umberto Sereni and his father who rebuilt the 6 room hotel, organic winery and thick, rich 25 year old balsamico facility. All made on the premises with generous portions and ample complimentary digestives! The views are stunning as they are at Opera 02 just 20 minutes away up a steep and unmade road, which allowed me to switch on ride height adjustment and cruise up to one of the most impressive boutique restaurants in the world, in my opinion. It has only 8 rooms and according to the owner 96% occupancy! Fortunately both have mountain bikes and swimming pools to burn off some of the lunch calories and prepare for the evening extravaganzas.
It's all change in Modena these days with the departure of CEOs and arrivals of new ones. Marchionni isn't in the "make friends and influence people" business judging by the atmosphere at the factory and steady stream of executive departures. No one can quite fathom his logic, but say what you will about Luca, he took a great brand with poor products and made them world beaters again with flair and passion.
Accountants and car guys don't mix well - just read Bob Lutz' book on the mess at GM and Chrysler if you don't believe me - and that was while making the automotive equivalent of a washing machine.
Modena, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Pagani, Schedoni are in the passion business first, automotive exotica second and accounting last. With the arrival of dear friend and generally all round great bloke Stefano Dominicali as CEO of Lamborghini, many are predicting great leaps for the brand, a diversification of products, with the new (very) sporty utility 4x4 already planned for launch in 2018, and a general influx of quality, but with disgruntled Ferrari talent (watch this space) I predict further greatness, strong sales and a drive for brand quality for the friendly boutique manufacturer from Sant A'agata.
One final story. It's easy to be blasé about racing around this super car Mecca in the world's finest machinery.
But then my father, Andrew, and I met a dutch couple at breakfast who had driven down from Amsterdam to visit the Ferrari museum. Henk has been in love with Ferrari & Lamborghini since birth, he explained, and works as a shipping agent for the Qatari royals, regularly sending their new toys to the Middle East.
He had been in a Ferrari 456 once, back in 1996 and his wife, had "sat" in a California. So obviously when he mentioned if I had seen the "gorgeous blue Huracan" outside we both knew they needed a quick spin around Maranello.
I can't tell you how excited they both were to be driven for 15 minutes through the countryside. It is something they said they would remember for ever, and certainly I will too! Super sports cars are not for showing off in. They are for driving, and for sharing the fun with fans and enthusiasts around the world.