2016 Lamborghini Huracán LP 580-2 First Drive: Two Is Greater Than Four

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In a billionaire’s playground a $ 201,000 supercar is an inexpensive toy, but you can’t measure the fun of the new rear-drive Lamborghini Huracán LP 580-2 in dollars. In fact, if anything, less is more with the new entry-level Lambo.

How is it that a spin around a rarely-used Moto GP track in a car costing less than one-fifth that of a world-beater like the McLaren P1 or LaFerrari—fairly common sights in a place like Doha, Qatar, where I drove the new rear-drive Huracán—could hold more excitement and allure than the most hyper of hypercars? Because when you forget about lap times and focus on the fun, you pare the driving experience down to what really matters—and what matters ain’t fancy batteries and double-ton top speeds.

What matters is driver engagement, and the rear-drive Huracán provides that in big, drenching buckets. Without the front wheels adding to the tractive party, and 30 fewer horses (580 vs 610, in metric) than the LP 610-4, the LP 580-2 is slower around any given track in the world, says research and development director Maurizio Reggiani. It’s also 2 mph slower at the top end, hitting just 199 mph. But it’s far more rewarding to drive, regardless of the time on the clock.

Why is that? Because without the driveshafts spinning up the front wheels, you have less unsprung weight on the nose—and less weight total, saving about 72 pounds and making for a 40/60 front/rear split—meaning the front tires are only doing the job of steering.

And the steering system itself is much improved, retuned for greater feel and precision, even with the optional variable assist/variable ratio system. It’s still no Alfa 4C manual rack, but it’s a heck of a lot closer, placing it among the best available at any price. The suspension is a touch softer, too, allowing the car to move and respond to the driver’s inputs with a more natural feel.

Part of the new two-wheel-drive Lambo’s driver-first spirit also comes down to its new Sport mode. Using the traction control system and the Piattaforma Inerziale’s 3D position and yaw sensors, it enables a drift mode that is as easy to engage as tipping the steering-wheel-mounted controller and chucking the car into the corner. Once sideways, keep your foot in it, and the system will do most of the work to keep the car sideways—and a giant grin on your face.

This safety net for hoons is not just a gimmick. In my five track sessions with the car at the tight and twisty Losail International Circuit, I first approached the LP 580-2 as I would any serious sports car: put the thing in Corsa, drive a tidy line, and try to extract the most from its performance. But wringing the most out of a new car on a new track is a tough thing to do, especially when it’s someone else’s hardware and dropping a wheel—let alone roughing up some metal—is the last thing on your agenda. After two sessions of pushing the car as close to the limit as my talents would allow, I felt like I had a bit of a handle on the car, but I was far from confident in its behavior just beyond the limit.

Then I spent 15 minutes talking with Reggiani. His confidence in the Sport mode drifting system gave me enough courage to throw caution to the wind. I’m glad I did.

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