Review: The end of an era, the Lamborghini Huracan is going out with a bang

The Lamborghini Huracan Tecnica.Matt Bubbers/The Globe and Mail

One day soon, the delightfully untamed Lamborghini V10 engine, found in the Huracan supercar, will be gone and replaced by something greener, which may be better, but it certainly won’t be as brash.

The 10-cylinder engine howls like a wolf at the moon as the digital rev counter approaches the 8,000 mark. This motor makes no major concessions to eco-friendliness and is not muted by turbochargers.

Flicking the cold metal paddle shifter bangs home one higher gear after another and the numbers on the speedometer tick past faster than is legible: 150, 180, 210 – flick another gear – 230, 260 kilometres an hour.

A racing helmet muffles the noise, but a driver can’t escape the vibrations caused by the motor’s explosive churn as it fires the car down the main straight of Spain’s Circuit Ricardo Tormo racetrack. Sitting so low to the ground in one of the last cramped, old-school Italian supercars only heightens the sense of speed.

After nearly 10 years, Lamborghini’s 10-cylinder Huracan – the smaller of the company’s two mid-engine monsters, and the brand’s best-selling model ever – is about to be retired, and likely this engine along with it.

“Yes, it’s the end of an era, but it’s not the end of the internal-combustion engine,” said Stephan Winkelmann, Lamborghini’s chief executive officer. He outlined a plan to slowly move the boutique Italian firm toward (somewhat) greener pastures. In 2023, Lamborghini will launch a plug-in hybrid flagship supercar that will replace the Aventador, but retain the brand’s signature naturally aspirated V12.

In 2024, the replacement for the Huracan will arrive. Winkelmann said it, too, will be a plug-in hybrid, but wouldn’t say whether it would still have the Huracan’s naturally aspirated V10.

Lamborghini’s 10-cylinder Huracan is the smaller of the company’s two mid-engine monsters, and the brand’s best-selling model ever.Matt Bubbers/The Globe and Mail

Lamborghini’s first fully electric car – a four-seat coupe – won’t arrive until 2028, but by 2025, Lamborghini is promising to cut its CO2 emissions by 50 per cent from current levels, thanks to an all-hybrid lineup, Winkelmann said.

The Huracan and its V10 engine are not going quietly into the night. Instead, Lamborghini will wring every last bit of profit it can from the old supercar by introducing two last models.

The second-to-last version is this one, the Huracan Tecnica. It’s a greatest-hits compilation that bundles all the best bits from the model’s long history into one overdesigned package sure to please diehard fans. If that’s not you, look away now, lest this $279,630 gas-guzzling neon wedge offend your sensibilities.

If you are a fan, however, you’ll be pleased to know that the Huracan Tecnica takes the highly strung 631-horsepower version of the 5.2-litre V10 engine from last year’s track-focused Huracan STO and combines it with the rear-wheel-drive layout of the Huracan Evo rear-wheel drive. A carbon-fibre hood and engine cover help shave 10 kilograms off the weight (1,379 kilos, without fuel or other fluids). The Tecnica also gets the latest active suspension, a quicker-acting rear-wheel steering system, and a next-generation computerized brain that’s supposed to make all these complex systems work together more harmoniously.

Stepping on the brake pedal at 260 kilometres an hour, the Tecnica is surprisingly stable for a mid-engine supercar as it slows down to around 150 for the Ricardo Tormo’s first turn. The car turns toward the corner’s apex in a way that feels unnatural, because the rear tires turn in a few degrees like the fronts. It feels like understeer, but it’s not. In fact, once you get back on the throttle after the apex, the tortured rear Bridgestone tires let go so gently that the car slips into oversteer gracefully.

The Huracan Tecnica takes the highly strung 631-horsepower version of the 5.2-litre V10 engine from last year’s track-focused Huracan STO and combines it with the rear-wheel-drive layout of the Huracan Evo.Matt Bubbers/The Globe and Mail

The steering could use more feedback, but the Tecnica is far easier to drive and more forgiving than a 631-horsepower rear-drive supercar has any right to be.

It is, however, still a supercar. Sitting in the cockpit in a racing helmet, my head is pressed against the roof and the narrow windshield looks like a mailbox slot. The updated infotainment system has a sluggish navigation system. Ride comfort is decent, but this isn’t meant to be anyone’s only car.

Compared to the original 2014 Huracan – a car that felt much more at home sitting outside a fancy restaurant than it did on a racetrack – the Tecnica is in another league. It’s the best Huracan yet and, priced at $279,630, it’s a steal compared with the all-wheel-drive $394,217 Huracan STO.

Compared to its modern turbocharged and hybrid peers from McLaren and Ferrari, the Tecnica feels antiquated and more outrageous, but those qualities have always been part of Lamborghini’s appeal.

The Huracan’s updated infotainment system has a sluggish navigation system, though the ride comfort is decent.Charlie Magee/Handout

Last year, the brand delivered a record-breaking 8,405 cars, and 2022 is on track to be even better, Winkelmann said. Profitability is up, along with sales, largely because of the new Urus SUV, high selling prices across the industry, and special models like the $3.4-million Sian. Since 2014, the brand has sold 21,000 Huracans, and it could probably sell many more still, but the writing is on the wall. Electrification is the future.

Winkelmann is confident that even Lamborghini’s customers are ready for the gradual shift to electric cars. “Five years ago, I would have said yes, [plug-in hybrids] are the way to go, but we have to prepare the ground. Today, the ground is prepared and there’s no headache or dark clouds on the horizon that this strategy is not going to work. The same is going to happen with electric cars,” he said. In other words, acceptance is growing, even among the brand’s fervent V10-loving fan base.

So, how will the last and final Huracan top the Tecnica? Based on 2019′s Sterrato concept, it’ll be a gravel-ready supercar with jacked-up suspension and rally-car styling cues. If you’re going to get a ridiculous Lamborghini supercar, you might as well get the most ridiculous one.

The Lamborghini Huracan Tecnica, priced at $279,630, is a steal compared with the all-wheel-drive $394,217 Huracan STO.Matt Bubbers/The Globe and Mail

The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.

Shopping for a new car? Check out the new Globe Drive Build and Price Tool to see the latest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. Click here to get your price.