2019 Lamborghini Huracán Evo first drive review: Better in every way

What always drew me to Lamborghinis as a child wasn't the performance statistics, or what I would read about how they handled. It was the looks. In all honesty, a Lamborghini could drive like a shopping trolley full of bricks and still retain a lot of its appeal.

It then feels extra special -- as you ease off the throttle after a few hot laps on track, as much to let your body recover as the car -- that the new Lamborghini Huracán Evo delivers on every front.

Five years after the introduction of the original Huracán, not to mention Spyders, performance versions and so on, the entry-level Lambo gets its first full refresh. The new Evo replaces the all-wheel-drive coupe in the Huracán lineup. It cherry picks a variety of features from its bigger siblings, and more importantly, shows off some of Lambo's brand-new tricks.

At the center of the Huracán Evo (quite literally) is the same 631-horsepower, naturally aspirated, 5.2-liter V10 engine from the Huracán Performante -- you know, the car that broke the Nürburgring track record for production cars back in 2016. With that, the Evo can accelerate to 62 miles per hour from stand-still in 2.9 seconds, and continue on to top 200 mph.

But it's not just the Performante that has been ransacked for parts. The traction control, the all-wheel-drive system and all-wheel-steering setup have been adapted from the larger Aventador S.

On top of that, a new torque-vectoring system has been added and the coupe's aerodynamics have been completely overhauled. Up front there's a new splitter with an integrated wing that, along with the new underbody, promises better front-end downforce. At the back, a new ducktail, fixed spoiler provides both additional downforce and a Venturi effect to reduce drag. Lamborghini claims the Evo generates seven times the aerodynamic downforce of the outgoing Huracán Coupe.

Perhaps the biggest innovation, however, is the Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Integrata (LDVI) system. This electronic brain continuously monitors not only the current state of the car, but also the driver's inputs, and uses that information to adapt the coupe to best suit the circumstance. Where Lamborghini says this differs from other driver's aids is that the car "feeds forward." Rather than reacting to what's happening and trying to fix it, the car predicts what's going to happen and preempts it. Giving the Huracán too much throttle midcorner might lead to oversteer, and it would normally be offset by the traction control withholding power. The LDVI system, meanwhile, can shuffle that torque around the car to where it's more useful, even before traction is lost.

No one had called the base Huracán Coupe slow, but the Performante really showed us all what that exquisite V10 was capable of. The new Evo takes full advantage of that engine to propel you down Bahrain International Circuit's straights at breathtaking speed.

The carbon ceramic brakes do a great job of scrubbing off that speed, but only after you get used to stamping on the pedal a little harder than you might expect. Compared to the Performante, the Evo's brake pedal has been set up for on-road comfort rather than ferocity on track, so on the initial hit as you first barrel into a corner at 150 mph, you might not get the response you are after. A few terrifying corners later, you realize the stopping power is there, you're just going to have to push a bit harder for it. What is noticeable, though, is how little the car pitches under hard braking.

The new aluminum and carbon-fiber chassis allows you to fully exploit everything the drivetrain has to offer, and give you to confidence to push closer and closer to the car's limits. Where the chassis tech, new aero and LDVI brain all shine best is in bends. Turns out that "feed forward" stuff is no joke. Where you can normally be made to feel like a scolded child when traction control snatches away your power, the LDVI system almost magically and imperceptibly has already shifted the torque to the wheels that need it most, making you feel like you just pulled off the turn like a pro.

The way this car corners is truly something else.

Lamborghini

The Evo rotates itself around you so quickly and effectively you can forgive it the otherwise slightly numb steering feel. Corners are over before you know it, and you find yourself pointing down the next straight so soon you almost forget that the car is waiting for you to get back on the power.

Where the Huracán Coupe could be prone to understeering out of high-speed bends, the all-wheel-steer and torque vectoring, combined with the additional downforce on the front, almost completely dial that out. There's still fun to be had by being able to swing out the rear with the right application of some extra throttle, but somehow the LDVI system can tell the difference between intentional hooning and accidental over-enthusiasm.

What makes the LDVI system work so well is that it never feels like it's nannying you. Because it defaults to moving the power around to make better use of it rather than taking it away, it feels like it's a tool to be quicker as much as one to keep you safe. All the while, the Huracán never feels like it's doing anything. There's still a looseness to it all that makes it feel like you're at the edge of what the car can handle, when in reality you're probably nowhere near the Evo's capability.

Lamborghini says the Evo is 3 seconds quicker per lap than the outgoing Huracán Coupe around the Nardo test circuit, and in certain sections, even challenges the Performante. Out on track, that is not hard to believe at all.

The Evo looks a little sharper, a little more menacing than before.

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But all these innovations aren't just there to reduce your lap times. The chassis and suspension have a much broader range of comfort level to draw upon, making the difference between the most compliant Strada mode and the performance-focused Sport and Corsa modes much greater.

While stuck in traffic it's easy to admire how easy the Huracán Evo is to drive. Strada mode takes all of the ferocity out of the gas pedal and softens the car up that even the most frustratingly slow stop-and-go traffic is perfectly easy to tolerate. The downside is that, when trying to overtake a slower car in Strada mode, the Huracán seriously questions your intentions by hanging onto a higher gear for considerably longer than necessary. This can of course be countered by deploying the the paddle shifters preemptively.

The cabin itself isn't any bigger, and for anyone over 6 feet tall, you're going to struggle to find much clearance between your head and the roof. While the seats offer enough ease of ingress and egress, and keep you perfectly supported during track driving, prolonged on-road stints will slowly take their toll on your back. Of course, good luck finding anyone to offer sympathy when you tell them your back hurts because you drove too many miles in your Lamborghini.

A new 8.4-inch touchscreen, located low on the center stack, features Apple CarPlay as well as multitouch support, allowing the driver to quickly turn the volume up or down using a simple, two-finger swipe. The screen itself is crisp, well designed and responsive, but its location makes it slightly inconvenient to look down at while driving.

The cabin gets a new, 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Our only gripe is its placement low on the center stack, meaning you often have to take your eyes off the road.

Lamborghini

Navigation cues are repeated on the all-digital instrument cluster, but for anything more specific, you'll find yourself taking your eyes off the road to understand the various menus. It all contributes to an uncluttered cabin with only crucial functions being given their own specific, jet fighter-inspired switches, but the lack of physical buttons you can find and operate by touch can be annoying. It shouldn't be this difficult to turn down the climate control's fan speed.

There is no mistaking you're in a Lamborghini when you step inside, though. If those great-looking switches -- including the iconic, missile-launch start button -- don't give it away, then the roar of the naturally aspirated V10 the moment you awaken the bull certainly will remind you. The great sense of theater that comes along from being in or even near a Lamborghini is certainly present.

On the looks front, the Huracán Evo delivers everything everyone's inner child expects. The simple, almost restrained lines of the Huracán have had a few more creases and sharp lines added, as Lamborghinis tend to do throughout their life cycles. A completely new rear end with repositioned exhausts, as well as that new front splitter and side intakes, are all as functional as they are decorative.

If this is the new starting point for future performance variants, we can't wait to see what's next.

Lamborghini

Lamborghini could have gotten away with just making some minor tweaks to the Huracán Coupe. Some small improvements to the steering and chassis could have been enough to put most of the issues with that car to bed. But instead, Lamborghini has truly made massive leap forward -- the Huracán Evo drives like an altogether different product than the car it replaces.

At north of $260,000 before taxes, the Huracán Evo is priced alongside the Ferrari 488 and McLaren 720S. That's a heck of a stable in which to compete, but the extra speed and improved handling certainly would justify that added cost.

Lamborghini seems set on continuing to make cars that aren't just vehicles for Miami Beach posers, but for serious track enthusiasts, as well. With the Huracán Evo now setting the new benchmark for where Lamborghinis start in terms of performance, it seems a suitable time to get very exited about what what the boys and girls from Sant'Agata Bolognese will come up with next.


Editors' note: Travel costs related to this feature were covered by the manufacturer. This is common in the auto industry, as it's far more economical to ship journalists to cars than to ship cars to journalists. While Roadshow accepts multiday vehicle loans from manufacturers in order to provide scored editorial reviews, all scored vehicle reviews are completed on our turf and on our terms.

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