Five Days of Heaven - Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder Meets Big Brother Avantador S
By Nicholas Frankl
Senior Editor & Motorsports Correspondent
The Auto Channel
What a week of Italian heaven to remember! However, it all began on a rather disappointing note – the Avantador S Spider we thought was coming off the production line in fact turned into a hard top. However, Rita, the always amazing and totally professional public relationships executive at Lamborghini HQ suggested a supremely delightful solution. The ultimate Huracan Spyder (yes, the 640bhp performante) and the Avantador S hard top were both available, the only question remaining was when to take which car on which day to which location around the rolling hills of golden Tuscany and the lakes of northern Italy? A cerebral struggle, for sure…
There is a distinctive buzz around the Lamborghini factory these days, and it’s contagious. With the new museum now running concurrent, fresh exhibitions right at the main entrance and open to the public, visitors are greeted with a melée of owners and enthusiasts mixed with buses of extremely excited school children pouring into the gates and surrounding any of the sparkling new products displayed daily. The advantage of this openness - in contrast to the prancing horse neighbor - is a more intimate and approachable company that embraces all-comers, not just the lucky chosen few. Of course, Maranello has many great museums of its own dedicated to the brand, its extraordinary history, and iconic founder Enzo but, alas, they are spread out all over town, without a central point of reference for the pilgrims.
After more than a decade of our annual father and son pilgrimage, this year my twin sister - and fellow long time TACH contributor and Bullrun Rally legend - Annabelle was in tow, driving the Maserati convertible to Modena’s ‘motor valley’. There is always an anticipation upon turning right into the flag draped entrance and catching sight for the first time of the freshly detailed chariot whose key fob is waiting behind the front desk with Valeria. Smiles, kisses and espresso were waiting but, more tantalizing, so was the Geneva motor show car. These days every manufacturer has a range with an “S” or “R” variant except most are lame styling kits intended to foist some racing imagery upon the dim-witted owner who has paid 35% over the base model for the same performance. When it comes to the supercar professionals they take the upgrades very seriously and each new performance variant consumes a team of engineers, designers and aerodynamicists, taking over 2 years to produce a genuine, hardcore edition that true driving and track enthusiasts can explore to the outer limits of a new-found envelope. Flipping up the red starter button cover and igniting the sensuous V10 draws an immediate crowd of excited German tourists around, camera phones at the ready, all encouraging me to stir the horses and awaken the bull. Of course, one simply has to oblige!
With the folding cloth roof lowered (which dramatically improves headroom) access is easy and so are the familiar controls. The twin plate, semi-automatic engages seamlessly with a light flick of the precise right paddle and we glide off with the family in tow, a Modena convoy of Italy’s most famous and celebrated houses, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Maserati. The newly updated V10 is so flexible, relaxed and unruffled with torque that allows for easy fast cruising in standard sport mode, exhaust butterflies closed, steering perfectly weighted and windows half up to deflect some of the wind rushing into your left ear, a consequence of being six foot in a car designed for smaller European torsos. Destination is the famous Albegno family casa on the Futa Pass, about 75 miles south into the mountains and part of the original Mille Miglia as well as a famous cycling destination. We hit the truck-filled but well-surfaced autostrada and cruise briskly until reaching the “Panoramica” fork that sends us left up the mountains on a dual lane super highway, super spartan and superbly matched for the new dynamic ALA aero to work its magic. I read the blurb, analyzed & examined the air intakes, exits and wing and still have little clue how this elaborate and sophisticated system works but I can assert it does work and, oh boy, what a rush as you climb higher and higher above the Italian countryside, redline in 3rd, snatching for 4th, corsa mode engaged into 5th, and 640 ponies galloping up the hill with you at twice the suggested limit - and all that around the bends – as the Performante truly performs and delivers on the promise with both stability and grip levels normally reserved for race tracks and slick tires, and which takes one’s brain some time to recalibrate as the car enters race mode far quicker than its pilot.
Off the highway and time to catch your breath and wait for the others to catch up. Now it’s time to assault the tight ‘n’ twisty 2nd and 3rd gear sections of the Mille Miglia which are dispensed with alacrity and ease as, even when pressing on too deep into tightening late-apex bends, the front grip and four-wheel drive traction just grabs and grabs and doesn’t let go. This Huracan is easy-to-drive fast and a pleasure, too. It’s a tight fit for long legs but that adds to the racecar-like quality and thrill of blasting along iconic, and beautifully scenic, B-roads.
Arriving first at the Casa the chef, Stefano, appears like magic from his kitchen, smiling and greeting me with a big hug like a long-lost family friend although we’ve met only once before, exactly 12 months prior. Clearly the Frankl’s made an impression then and were about to do a repeat… or was it just the cars, I wonder?
Stefano’s father, like mine, who arrives beaming with a wide smile in the Portofino only ten minutes after me, is an aficionado and also in his eighties and they appear to live for the days when out-of-the-blue super cars arrive almost by magic for an impromptu photoshoot. The house pasta soup is served with fresh rolls, still water and authentic espresso, this is after all is the land that inspired Howard Schultz of Starbucks.
Having taken the fast route up, it’s time to enjoy the long wiggly route back through countless idyllic villages down to Opera 02 - the hidden (but now rather popular) gem of a modern but traditional Tuscan family boutique hotel, featuring a large pool, breathtakingly tranquil views over Castelsadro, its own DOC-certified Balsamic cellars, home-made pasta and Sassicaia at $220 a bottle. With dinner in mind we press on eagerly in convoy, having also picked up a slightly bewildered Dutch father and son in a clean Porsche 911 (996).
Fresh from V10 heaven, and it’s already time to swap for its mighty big brother. I cannot think of too many better June mornings than driving one brand new Lamborghini back to its birthplace only to pick up another sitting eagerly waiting, gleaming in the early morning sun. The plan was beautifully simple. Father and son, two Lamborghini’s, lunch and a photo shoot and head back to drop off the Performante.
But first a quick coffee with an old friend from F1 and now the boss, Stefano Domenicali, whose genuine warmth and humility has infected the whole firm. He showed us a pre-production Urus, which looks magic in the flesh and totally makes sense as soon as you climb into the jet fighter style cockpit and fire up the twin turbo V8. I only drove in the car park but I wanted to drive it a whole lot more!
Back to the stunning Grigio Astarte and this was where fate appeared in the form of Jacinta from Australia – AKA @moto_doll. An Australian biker model and her one-man film show fiancée who had borrowed a Ducati 1100 Scrambler for the day and were anxiously climbing all over the Avantador S for creative bike / car content. Father Andrew and I decided that it was time to share the joy and suggested they join us for a spirited tour of the local countryside – you couldn’t have wiped their smiles off with a Bondi Beach surf board.
Only a few miles away we found a farm house and stables and once the farmers had stopped rubbing their eyes in disbelief for what the automobile gods had brought to them they saddled up one of their horses and out it trotted to join an impromptu film shoot with no directors, PR team, dolly grips or liability insurance should said horse take a liking (or disliking) to any of the precious machinery. Hollywood couldn’t have planned it any better. Action!
With the filming completed, plus both the horse and the Huracan back safely in their respective stables, it was time to fulfil more tradition with a very lively sprint up the Milano autostrada to the sublime shore of Lago di Como about 150 miles north. Splendid in one of the most captivating colors I’ve ever seen on any car and especially resplendent on this Avantador I loaded a fair amount of luggage (the boot is about 50% larger than its little brother) and strapped in for the sprint. This wide and ‘intimidating’ beast is a puppy to cruise in town, and in traffic and through narrow streets one feels connected into this car unlike all those other super cars I know. Visibility is good, the cabin is spacious, although still lacking a convenient spot for your cell phone unless it’s out of sight, plugged into the media system in the center console. The steering wheel adjusts easily with plenty of leg and head room. In full auto mode (not forgetting this is a single plate racing clutch built to handle 750bhp) it lags and hesitates as if wondering just how much whallop to deliver, so best to keep it in manual as that’s why you bought the monster in the first place: For driving, not merely proceeding in a forward motion!
Joining the highway in an enthusiastic manner I see an undercover VW Golf with a Secret Service-type blue flashing light, coming up in the fast lane. I see him, and he definitely notices me, with big eyes over his right shoulder. At this point the timid ones would hang back and make like they are invisible but that would be to totally misunderstand the culture of Italians, Italian men and Italian men in and around this region where Lamborghini is worshiped almost to the same degree as his holiness in Rome. Subsequently I attached myself to said undercover Golf’s rear bumper - so close that the crazy Punto’s and vans couldn’t cut in front; you literally leave more than 10 feet and you might as well issue a handwritten invitation to a royal wedding – they’ll cut right in! What most amused me tailing the cops at 120mph was how hard it was for them to get past traffic and how often random vehicles just pulled out in front, inches to spare, Brembos doing their job. At one point the cops got so frustrated they pulled over to the middle lane and beckoned me on to have a go, to see how the crowd would respond to full beam full throttle fully up their chuff. Naturally I had to be (semi) respectful as the Golf wasn’t a GTI so ten seconds at full beans left them steaming in the mirror – which also gave me a good view of both officers’ wide grins as we belted seventy-five miles together, attacking the outside lane one Dutch caravan convoy at a time. I never saw who they were chasing - maybe it was breaktime - but they peeled off just before Milan and I settled down to a more sedate pace, the broad smile thinning slightly, but still prominent. Annabelle meantime was in her own outside lane battle fending off aggressive vans and using all 430bhp of the Maserati’s V8, in reality only a few minutes behind.
The ‘S’ is staggeringly capable just as its predecessor before it, but now even more so. The rear steering works with you at low speed commuter stuff – yes you can easily use this daily – and mountain sections adding even more confidence to an already inspirational experience. The steering is weighted just right in each of the performance modes and with ‘ego’ mode the driver can dial in his own levels of suspension, exhaust and steering weight, a custom solution that really allows the driver to ‘tune’ his car. Fact is the numbers simply don’t transmit the emotion which oozes like 25 year old Balsamico from every surface. 0-62: 3 seconds. 0-124: 9 seconds. 590 ft-lbs of torque from 6.5 liters of V12 glory. Top speed: 217 mph. It feels even faster and sheer unrelenting turbine power, combined with the ferocious and, to my mind, appropriate gearchange is breathtaking. With no acceleration dead spots this normally aspirated V12 is the energizer bunny of engines, with a spirit and engine symphony that rewards enthusiasm and encourages full use. There aren’t too many places you can fully exploit those numbers as the scenery jumps at you awfully quickly, but in real world terms you’re simply the fastest and most striking thing on almost any road, anytime, with effortless ability to dispatch with long distances and traffic obstacles without even changing down from seventh gear. But then what fun would that be? It’s effortless to cruise at 125-150mph in the right conditions and touching 180mph was no sweat – it felt like it would stay there all day long. Rolling into the doyenne of European residences - the unsurpassed Villa d’Este - at sundown was an occasion in itself, the very attentive welcome almost regal in its effusiveness. After three-and-a-bit hours slogging I felt refreshed and relaxed, although its impossible for the adrenalin not to flow as you introduce the surrounding tunnels and travelers to a harmony of brut horsepower (no turbos here, thank god) at full song, in Corsa mode. FYI: tunnels are never just boring old tunnels in a an Avantador S…
Lake Como isn’t just famous for beautiful scenery and movie stars. The world’s oldest aero club for sea planes was founded on the south shore in 1913 and still operates today from a large waterfront hanger with a fully sanctioned water runway and daily, general aviation flying. Apart from driving fast cars, piloting small aircraft is one of my great passions, so I wasted no time in arranging to take a demo with chief instructor and Como legend, Francesco. Having checked that there was parking on site, upon arrival I caused some commotion amongst the fellow pilots and local mechanics all working away on the various Cessna’s. You couldn’t get better: a V12 taking you to a flat four 1965 Cessna Blackdog tandem former reconnaissance aircraft from the USA. After the checklist and tech brief I was tractored out of the hanger (it wasn’t a Lamborghini tractor – I checked) and pushed into the lake. What a thrill to fly and land, first at Villa La Gaeta, the “James Bond” / “Star Wars” Villa, and then over to Lake Lugano for a large circular loop over the town and my fifth landing of the day. Naturally Francesco was also a former rally champion and I was happy to oblige him with a first gear pedestrian loop around the facility.
Which one would I choose to live with? Well, with a baby on the way it would solve any two-three car compromise with the Urus! But it wasn’t a comparison to start with and for all its day-to-day competency the Huracan is still the ‘baby Lambo’ you can drive to the office and set track records on the same day – with the same tires. I adore the passion of all the employees in Sant A’gata for producing the world’s best and still normally aspirated V10 and V12 engines - long may that continue - as the alternative mid-engine turbo cars have pace, but little in way of engaging soul. For me the Avantador is the super sports car of its time, especially roof-off, windows down. No other manufacturer builds this car anymore on this scale, with reliability, global dealers and relative affordability. I’ve never owned a Lamborghini but if I did it would be V12. I can imagine the ownership experience is vastly different from Ferrari and Aston Martin: it’s still the most radical ‘old school bad boy’ but usable daily driver I know with class-beating styling, drama and performance and now is the choice of all the new young Bitcoin millionaires, too. I can’t think of a manufacturer who wouldn’t want to be the Instagram ‘pin up’ of the next generation. Well done Lambo and let’s see the what you have in store for us next at Pebble Beach with the new Avantador SVJ with its own ALA active aero.
Lamborghini Aventador S Engine Technical Data
Engine type - Number of cylinders :
Engine Alignment :
Engine Position :
Engine size - Displacement - Engine capacity :
6498 cm3 or 396.5 cu-in
Bore x Stroke :
95.0 x 76.4 mm
3.74 x 2.99 inches
Number of valves :
Compression Ratio :
Maximum power - Output - Horsepower :
740 PS or 730 bhp or 544 kW @ 8400 rpm
Maximum torque :
690 Nm or 508 lb.ft @ 5500 rpm
Drive wheels - Traction - Drivetrain :
Transmission Gearbox - Number of speeds :
7 speed Auto
Clutch Type :
Dry dual-disc clutch
Lamborghini Aventador S Fuel Consumption (Economy), Emissions and Range
Fuel Consumption - Economy - Combined:
17 mpg UK / 14 mpg US
Fuel Consumption - Economy - Extra Urban:
24 mpg UK / 20 mpg US
Fuel Consumption - Economy - City:
11 mpg UK / 9 mpg US
Fuel Tank Capacity :
18.7 UK gallons
22.5 US gallons
502 Km or 312 miles
CO2 emissions :
394 g/Km (Lamborghini)
Lamborghini Aventador S Performance
Top Speed :
350 km/h or 218 Mph
Acceleration 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) :
Lamborghini Aventador S Size, Dimensions, Aerodynamics and Weight
Number of Doors :
270 cm or 106.3 inches
479.7 cm or 188.86 inches
203 cm or 79.92 inches
113.6 cm or 44.72 inches
Front Axle :
172 cm or 67.72 inches
Rear Axle :
168 cm or 66.14 inches
Number of Seats :
Aerodynamic drag coefficient - Cx : -
Front Brakes - Disc dimensions :
Ceramic (400 mm)
Rear Brakes - Dics dimensions :
Ceramic (380 mm)
Front Tyres - Rims dimensions :
Rear Tyres - Rims dimensions :
Front Wheels Width :
Rear Wheels Width :
Curb Weight :
1740 kg OR 3836 lbs
Weight-Power Output Ratio :
Trunk capacity :
Rack and pinion Hydraulic
Front Suspension :
Rear Suspension :
Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder 2019
Mid, longitudinally mounted
aluminium alloy block and head
5,204 cc / 317.6 cu in
Bore / Stroke
84.5 mm (3.3 in) / 92.8 mm (3.7 in)
4 valves / cylinder, DOHC, Continuous Variable Cam Timing
Direct Fuel Injection
630 bhp / 470 kW @ 8,000 rpm
600 Nm / 443 ft lbs @ 6,500 rpm
121 bhp / liter
aluminium and composite panels
aluminium and carbon-fibre spaceframe
double wishbones, coil springs over dampers, anti-roll bar
electromechanical speed-sensitive power steering
ventilated and cross-drilled carbon ceramic discs, 380mm (15 in), 6-pot caliper
ventilated and cross-drilled carbon ceramic discs, 356mm (14 in), 4-pot caliper
LDF 7 speed Automatic
All wheel drive
1,507 kilo / 3,322 lbs
83 Litre (21.9 Gallon US / 18.3 Gallon Imperial)
8.5 x 20 / 11 x 20
Pirelli P-Zero Corsa 245/30 - R20 / 305/30 - R20
Power to weight
0.42 bhp / kg
43% front / 57% rear
Top Speed 325 km/h (202 mph)