2018 Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO Review: The Future of the Supercar


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The brake lights just ahead flash bright red through the steeply raked windshield. I count an extra beat then mash the brake pedal as hard as I can, the bellowing 620-hp V-10 behind me erupting into a quick fire, shock-and-awe sonic barrage—boom! boom! boom!—as I fan the left hand paddle, working the transmission back through the gears. The all-wheel-drive Lamborghini Huracán Performante in front of me is squirming all over the road as Squadra Corse test driver Christian Engelhart dances it to the absolute limit of adhesion on corner entry.

My rear-drive 2018 Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO stops hard enough to punch the air from my lungs, dives for the apex the instant I turn the wheel, and then carves through the corner, slick tires gripping like limpets, as the big V-10 at my shoulder blades bellows once more. In that moment I feel like a racing god—like I’ve swapped jobs with Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen, and no one’s laughing. And that’s exactly how Lamborghini’s newest factory race car has been designed to make me feel.

Welcome to the future of the supercar.

With its trick aerodynamics, racing transmission, slick tires, carbon brakes, and FIA-approved roll cage nestling in a stripped-down interior, the Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO is a proper race car. It’s also proper production Lamborghini, created by Lamborghini engineers and designers and built alongside the Huracán and Aventador road cars. Write a $295,000 check, and the friendly folks at Lamborghini will send you one, pretty much ready to race. What’s more, they’ll give you somewhere to race it.

Super Trofeo is a Pro-Am race series devised and promoted by Lamborghini specifically for these Huracán race cars and aimed at customers the company politely calls ‘gentleman drivers’—those with the money to consider racing Lamborghinis on some of the world’s most iconic tracks a hobby. Super Trofeo championships are held in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, culminating in a world final at the legendary Imola circuit in Italy, just down the road from Lamborghini HQ in Sant’Agata Bolognese.

Despite its race-face swagger, the Super Trofeo EVO is heavily based on the Huracán road car, sharing about 70 percent of its parts, including engine and suspension. It’s not as fast, nor as tricky to drive on the limit, as the Pro-spec Huracán GT3 race car. Although it has more power, the Super Trofeo EVO generates less downforce, and it is electronically limited to 174 mph. “We allow drivers to enjoy the power and torque, but the Super Trofeo is meant to be a scholarship car, to prepare them to move up to a GT3,” says Lamborghini Motorsport boss Giorgio Sanna.

The EVO’s engine, transmission, brakes, wheels, and tires are carried over from the 2015 Huracán Super Trofeo, along with sundry other pieces of hardware, including the giant rear wing. Power remains the same—around 620 hp—but a new air intake layout delivers a 3 percent increase in torque at maximum speed. Also new for 2018 are the exhaust system, revised hydraulic power steering pump, and updated software for the traction control and antilock braking systems.

The new aero package that comprises most of the EVO upgrades has been specifically designed to improve chassis balance and stability, especially through the fast fourth, fifth, and sixth gear corners that would give gentlemen drivers wide eyes and sweaty palms in the edgier GT3 Huracán. Key elements are new rear fenders, a vertical fin on the engine cover, bigger cooling vents for the front brakes, and larger louver openings on the front fenders.

Overall downforce is unchanged from the 2015 cars, but the aerodynamic balance has been shifted 3 percent toward the front axle, and the dorsal fin improves stability at the rear. Meanwhile, an 8 percent reduction in drag means better acceleration on the straights. Working together, these tweaks trimmed 1.5 seconds off the 2015 car’s lap times in testing at the storied Monza grand prix circuit outside Milan.

Many racetracks are built on godforsaken pieces of real estate; barren and windswept, stinking hot in the summer, freezing cold in the winter, miles from anywhere. Not the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, Italy. This 3.1-mile track nestles comfortably among rolling hills on the tree-lined south bank of the Santerno river, barely a mile from the cafés and restaurants of Imola’s old town, the streets of which were mapped by Leonardo da Vinci in 1502. Lamborghini boss Stefano Domenicali was born here.

Home to the San Marino Grand Prix between 1981 and 2006, the Imola circuit gained worldwide notoriety after the sublimely gifted Ayrton Senna was killed in the opening laps of the 1994 race. Tragically, Senna’s death had come barely 24 hours after Austrian Formula 1 rookie Roland Ratzenberger lost his life in a crash during qualifying. The first fatalities at a Grand Prix in 12 years, they prompted a redesign of the track layout. With chicanes replacing the fearsome 190-mph sweeper called Tamburello, where Senna crashed, and the flat-out right-hand Villeneuve kink that claimed Ratzenberger, Imola today is a less intimidating place. But it’s still fast and flowing in places, with dramatic changes in elevation that test driver commitment as much as chassis composure.

Perfect for a first drive of a 620-hp mid-engine race car, then.

‘My’ Super Trofeo EVO is one of two cars Lamborghini Squadra Corse has on hand for a small group of journalists to sample in between qualifying sessions and races over the Super Trofeo finale weekend. Painted menacing matte gray, it’s the older of the two, with some parts clearly straight out of the prototyping shop. The other EVO, painted bright lime green, is better finished but has been set up to suit the shorter drivers of the group. Only the pedals adjust—the seats are fixed—and the Lamborghini mechanics have had to guesstimate two broad compromise settings to enable journalists to switch in and out of cars with minimal time loss.

At 6’2”, I’m the tallest driver here, and the pedals in the tall guys’ car are still slightly too close for my liking. But I fit, and at least the steering wheel is reach and rake adjustable. ‘Wheel’ isn’t an entirely accurate description: It’s a vaguely butterfly shaped affair with an Alcantara covered rim that’s flat across the base and loops up and around to join the top side of a carbon-fiber-covered boss that has eight buttons and two knobs. To the lower right of the wheel is a box covered with pads. You press one to awaken the Lambo’s electrics and another to crank the big V-10 into life. It settles down to a fast, bawling idle.

As in most modern supercars, paddles lurk with easy finger reach behind the steering wheel rim, upshifts on the right, and downshifts on the left. But there’s also a clutch pedal, small and tucked down near the floor. The rear-drive Super Trofeo EVO has a full-race, six-speed sequential shift transmission that’s designed to bang home gears without the niceties of worrying about a clutch to smooth things out, but you still need that third pedal to get the EVO underway and to bring it smoothly to a halt.

Lemme see … Clutch in, left thumb on the neutral button on the steering wheel boss, click back the right paddle. Thunk! We’re in first gear. Build revs, ease out the clutch, and the low-slung Lambo stutters down pit lane, bah-bah-bah-bah-bah-bahing against the 30-mph pit lane rev limiter. Past pit exit, right thumb on the pit button to cancel the pit limiter, and the Super Trofeo leaps forward. Bang! Second gear slams home like an anvil dropped in a dumpster. Bang! There’s third. Bang! Fourth.

I’ve only driven a car with a sequential shift transmission once before—the brain-melting Caterham R500, a pint-size 500-hp featherweight that, if you can stop the rear tires from going up in smoke, will dust a Viper ACR over the quarter mile. But that was only in a straight line. Over successive laps around Imola in the Lamborghini I learn there’s subtle art to getting the best out of a sequential-shift transmission; that on downshifts especially you have to pay close attention to engine revs and vehicle speed to prevent momentarily locking the rear wheels on corner entry and unsettling the car.

The grip, the stability, the noise, the braking—especially the braking—it’s all a vivid rush for the first few laps. Every young racer I’ve spoken with after they’ve driven a Formula 1 car for the first time has raved about the braking, not the power, and in the Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO I get a sense of why. This is my first experience of modern slicks, downforce, and carbon brakes all working together, and I cannot believe how deep I can go into corners before hitting the middle pedal. The Lambo slows crisply and concisely, corner after corner.

What’s most impressive about the Super Trofeo EVO, however, is that even after a few laps you can start to push it, to explore its limits rather than worry about your own. Default handling mode is mild understeer, which requires a little patience with the throttle exiting tight second and third gear corners but is a safer, more predictable option through the fast curves, where that new fin helps keep the rear end tracking faithfully on line. The engine loves to rev, the LEDs on the simple digital instrument readout rapidly flickering through green, blue, and orange en route to red, but the fat torque curve cuts you a little slack if you aren’t quite on top of your shift points.

This is a race car that rewards neatness and precision with a fast lap time but won’t bite your head off when you get it wrong, as mere mortals like us inevitably will … You can dial up or down appropriate levels of traction control and antilock braking via the two knobs on the steering wheel boss, depending on track conditions and your confidence level. And before you sneer, even the pros play around with these settings as they work toward the optimum setup. This is, as Lamborghini claims, a car in which you can learn how to drive like a pro racer.

Super Trofeo racing is close and spectacular (check it out on Motor Trend OnDemand) and for Lamborghini, it’s good business—the company has built 150 Huracán Super Trofeos since 2015 and already sold nearly 50 of the new EVO models. But it’s also a long-term survival strategy: As mass automobility heads inexorably toward autonomous vehicles, automakers that are defined by high performance and driving passion can no longer rely on simply selling fast and sexy road cars.

“Racing … it’s life,” said Steve McQueen in the 1971 film, Le Mans. “Anything that happens before or after … it’s just waiting.” The Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO, one of a growing group of factory-built race cars for gentleman drivers that includes the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, the Ferrari 488 Challenge, and the Mercedes-AMG GT4, gives supercar owners the opportunity to not only drive the dream, but live it, too.

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