I can’t remember the last time I was this intimidated by a car. I’ve been studying the Lamborghini Huracan STO that’s just been dropped off on my driveway for a little while now, taking in its aggressive details, of which there are many.
There’s a Le Mans prototype-style stabiliser fin running along the car’s spine, just behind a sizeable roof scoop (for cooling, not intake air, before you ask). You might miss both of these items on account of the distracting manually adjustable wing, which gives the appearance of a bull’s horns when the car is viewed head-on.
At the other end is a splitter feeding air to the new rear diffuser, and a massive clamshell that incorporates the bonnet, wings and bumper. The wings are louvred to help evacuate air from the wheel arches, and there are a pair of ducts in the middle of the bonnet section to keep the radiators cool. Most of the body panels are carbon composite, and oh yeah – they’re all festooned in yellow stickers. Believe it or not, this is far from the least ridiculous decal set you can spec.
The yellow accents plus all the aero additions gives an aesthetic that skirts the line between purposeful and puerile. But isn’t that the way things should be for a Lamborghini? This feels a million miles away from those weirdly restrained original Huracans, and that carries over to the driving experience.
Before going anywhere, you have to get comfortable in the driver’s seat (or about as comfortable as is possible with such a firm chair), and adjust your position behind the wheel using a big silver lever labelled ‘sgancio’. That means ‘release’, to save a Google.
This being a Lamborghini, it does all it can to remind you of its country of origin – instead of a fuel level readout, there’s a ‘livello benzina’, plus displays for ‘olio’ and ‘aqua’ temperature. There are even the colours of the Italian flag in the lettering of the ‘STO’ driving mode. I feel like I’m betraying this car without having a bowl of pasta for lunch/downing a shot of espresso/engaging in some other Italian cliché before departing.
A prod of the starter button, which lives under a little red flap like a missile release, shows that caffeine consumption isn’t necessary when you have one of these at your disposal. It fires up a 5.2-litre naturally-aspirated V10, which doesn’t sound best pleased about being woken up. This particular version is shared with the Huracan Evo and was first deployed for the Performante. While the Perf was all-wheel drive, the V10 in the STO only feeds the rear wheels.
This arrangement shaves 43kg off the kerb weight thanks to the lost prop, driveshafts and centre differential, giving a total dry figure of 1339kg. More importantly, the rear-drive setup keeps things rather interesting when you put your foot down. God, does the STO like to squirm under full load, even in the dry and with the traction and stability controls very much on.
This is an engine we’re more than used to, having been used in Audi R8s, Gallardos and Huracans for many years now, but here, its delivery is fierce. And with a pared-back interior (there’s no carpet in this thing), plus a lack of the particulate filters found in the latest R8 version, the noise is a glorious and furious howl that fills the cabin.
Perhaps partly due to this, the STO feels far faster in a straight line than the figures would suggest. For reference, those are 0-62mph in three seconds dead, 0-124mph in nine, and a top speed of 193mph. As ridiculous as it sounds, nat-asp cars like this have started to feel a little sluggish compared to rivals, which tend to be turbocharged and even more powerful.
Another reason it feels so damn quick is the firmness – even in the default and slightly softer STO mode, this is an uncompromising car. On the road, you can’t just boot it whenever you want – a careful assessment of the road surface must be made first. This firmness means the STO can feel full-on and a little sketchy even at more modest speeds in a set of corners, with the car getting bounced around by the most minor of tarmac imperfections.
Thankfully, there’s a very good level of feedback through the steering wheel to let you know what the front wheels are up to. Usually, this involves them digging in, and hard – the front end of the STO is fantastically pointy. And this isn’t on semi-slicks (which are optionally available) – the Huracan’s centre-locking wheels wear road-biased Bridgestone Potenza Sport tyres as standard.
Further helping the car change direction at an almost violent rate is a rear-axle steering system, which is something Lamborghini won’t give you on a Huracan Evo RWD. Elsewhere on the handling front, we have a chassis inspired by Huracan racers, with track widths that are 10mm wider at the front and 16mm wider at the back. The two-stage adaptive dampers are new, as are the anti-roll bars.
“With the STO, it feels like Lamborghini is finally in a place that makes sense”
To slow things down, the STO has F1-derived CCM-R (carbon ceramic material race) stoppers from Brembo that have better heat resistance and are more powerful than traditional carbon ceramics. They’re mightily strong, but the super-sharp response of the top part of the pedal travel does take some getting used to.
It’s certainly a car set up for the track (where we weren’t able to drive it for this test, not counting a few acceleration runs and skiddy silliness on an airfield taxiway), but it does just about work on the road, if not as effectively as something like a Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
The caveat is you have to keep it in STO mode – Trofeo simply isn’t useable away from the circuit, given how firm it makes the dampers. It’s a shame you can’t turn the engine up to its angriest setting independently of the suspension, particularly as Trofeo mode provides a brilliantly aggressive hard limiter to ‘accidentally’ hit with a late upshift. In STO, the seven-speed dual clutch gearbox upshifts for you at the redline. Boo.
That’s one of our few complaints, really, as with the STO, it feels like Lamborghini is finally in a place that makes sense. No other car in its modern era marries the silliness and outlandishness of the company’s past, with the tech-led wizardry of its present.
Its context away from Lamborghini is even more important. It’s one of those ‘end of an era’ cars we’re getting a lot of these days – while Lambo is committed to carrying on with big engines as long as it can, it’ll need to rely on electrification to do so, sullying the purity of its currently petrol-only wonders. The Huracan’s replacement is also unlikely to use a V10, especially as Audi is ditching the R8 after this generation.
Cars like the STO simply can’t be a thing for much longer. That means every drive of this car is tinged not just with a faint whiff of buttock-clenching terror, but also a pinch of sadness. As a tribute not just to naturally-aspirated Lamborghinis but combustion-engined supercars as a whole, though, it couldn’t be more fitting.