Johannesburg - LSM Distributors recently took over the importation of Lamborghinis in South Africa to add to their existing Porsche and Bentley portfolios, and their first order of business was launching the Italian brand’s new SUV, the Urus, last month.
While local order books are open for the sporty all-terrain vehicle, Lamborghini reminded us that they are also still in the business of selling road-based supercars, and last week they hosted a media event at Kyalami where journalists were able to reacquaint themselves with the Huracan and the Aventador.
First, here’s a quick catch-up on the Lamborghini heirarchy, in case you’ve recently won the lotto and have a bull-badged car in your sights.
The Huracan is the ‘entry-level’ roadgoing Lambo - if you can pardon using such an expression for a car with a starting price of R4.6-million - and it’s powered by a mid-mounted 5.2-litre engine. This normally aspirated V10 is available in various states of tune starting with 426kW/540Nm in the rear-wheel drive LP580 hard-top coupe and open-topped Spyder derivatives.
Next up in the Huracan range are the LP610 versions (again in coupe and Spyder) with outputs of 449kW/560Nm and all-wheel drive to harness it better. The range-topping Huracan LP640 Performante gives you 470kW/600Nm and all-wheel drive to play with, and the bragging rights of being the third-fastest production car to have yet lapped the famous Nurburgring circuit.
The larger and more expensive Aventador S is Lambo’s fire-spitting V12 supercar, and the 6.5-litre engine behind the seats thrusts 544kW and 690Nm to all four wheels, and helps rein all those horses with the assistance of four-wheel steering.
Enough history. How do they go?
A couple of laps around Kyalami in both of these raging bulls - apart from being two of the most gorgeous machines ever to grace a strip of tarmac - revealed a pair of cars with quite different characters.
I first drove the Aventador S coupe, and it was a thing of track-taming fury with its 544kW of eyeball-denting thrust occupying most of your attention. The high-revving V12 seems to have endless grunt and it’s a visceral and vocal experience as that rev needle sweeps towards its 8 500rpm redline like a hungry raptor.
The Aventador uses an old-fashioned robotised manual transmission which feels slow and clunky when commuting on a public road but comes alive when the car’s driven in anger on a racetrack. The gearshifts are forceful and violent in a way that makes sense in a raging supercar such as this, which is all thrust and raw emotion.
The Aventador feels nimble for a relatively large and wide supercar, and that four-wheel steering helps it to nip into corners with a brisk, almost twitchy nature. The system has the rear wheels turning in the same direction as the fronts at higher speeds for stability, but has the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction as the fronts for a decreased turning radius at lower speeds.
With the Charisma dial on the steering wheel set to Corsa (that means Race in Italian), the Aventador feels raw and energised with its steering, throttle, suspension, exhaust, and stability control settings all in ‘hell yeah’ mode. There are also Strada (Street), and Sport modes for less adventurous drives, along with an Ego mode which allows the driver to customise the various settings.
The carbon-bodied Aventador S comes with racetrack-ready carbon ceramic brakes as standard, and the car is capable of 0-100km/h in 2.9 seconds with a top speed of 350km/h - making it the fastest car you can buy in South Africa.
Next I drove the entry-level (there’s that term again) Huracan LP580 rear-wheel drive. With its lesser power and its smoother dual-clutch transmission this junior Lambo felt more approachable and civilised than the fire-breathing Aventador.
It’s a more accessible machine, with a safe and predictable nature and a power delivery that’s entertainingly forceful without trying to scare you out of your skin. And, at the risk of being pilloried by the Lamborghini fans, its V10 sounds better to me than the Aventador’s V12 - more hoarse and primal.
The Huracan too has various mild-to-wild modes with a system called ANIMA (soul) that offers Strada, Sport and Corsa settings. Its rear wheel drive might sound like a tail-wagging recipe but the junior Lambo has plenty of grip, and its unobtrusive stability control system is like a good waiter - lingering out of obvious sight, but appearing just when you need them.
Lamborghini has showrooms in Melrose Arch in Johannesburg and Century City in Cape Town, with an Umhlanga dealership to be established to service customers in KwaZulu-Natal.