=
RUNNING WITH THE BULLS
Lamborghini Esperienza 2015
Words | Frank Liew
Photography | Kimio Ng
Design | Franco Au-Yeung
Translation | Sobe Chow

“…Please note the Aventador’s transmission will throw you violently into your seat. Grazie.”

Flanked on both sides by smiling representatives from Lamborghini giving us the thumbs up, it seemed like we were part of some elaborate practical joke. Before I could turn to my colleague on the left to ask if I had heard that correctly, we were quickly ushered out of the room and into the sweltering heat of the Zhuhai International Circuit pit lane. It is the height of noon, 150% humidity out, I’m already suffering from a bad case of food coma after convincing their very animated Italian chef to make me his “signature pasta” dish, but all that be damned – we were here as part of the Lamborghini Esperienza and to wrestle the might of the current Lamborghini roster, both the Huracan and the Aventador – appropriately nicknamed the “big bull” in Chinese.

Considering that the last bull I managed to wrangle at any decent speed worth bragging to my mother about was the Diablo VT, this was going to be an exercise in contrast – my first real drive of the raging bull in the modern, post-Audi acquisition age. I might be a decade late, but as the second iteration of its flagship models after the Murcielago and the Gallardo I was hoping they had all the bugs ironed out.

First things first – I start in the Huracan to ease myself into this new age of Lamborghini. No scissor doors? Bah. That’s a shame. Oh, there’s no rear-view. Ah, that’s more like it.

“Long gone are the days of the ridiculously short windscreen, wider-than-thou track, lack of vision anywhere except for the front and the long jump stretch to the pedal box.”

Surprisingly, the first thing you think when you drop yourself into the driver’s seat is just how comfortable it is. Long gone are the days of the ridiculously short windscreen, wider-than-thou track, lack of vision anywhere except for the front and the long jump stretch to the pedal box. I’ve always bemused to friends in the past – “You like Lamborghini? Try parallel parking one.”Instead, my immediate impression of the Huracan was how remarkably well-heeled it seemed – it had the signature Lamborghini stance, squat and wide but unlike its larger sibling, it looked quite.. tame. Its size alone makes you feel like it is a car that has somewhat matured in sensibility. Although many have remarked that the car was left wanting in the body styling department it had a look of refinement; rather than one of pure bullish aggression. It’s slightly more elegant than its predecessor and a little more un-assuming… for a Lamborghini, that is. All in all it looked like a machine whose whole was greater than the sum of its parts. It’s the lady in heels you spot at the Met Gala from across the hall – the one that you would happily bring to a black tie event, but sprints like the devil in her heels with a bottle of champagne in one hand.

“It is strangely Audi-esque in its driving nature but make no mistake, the ambiance is all Lamborghini.”

The Huracan unsurprisingly is nimble on its feet, right from the snarl of the engine start. The V10 barks at you and throws around torque like it’s free from 3000rpm onwards, but is very restrained once you’re past the initial rush. It gives you a pretty good sense of control and grip as it powers its way through the all wheel drive system, double wishbone suspension and the very Jetsons sounding self-adjusting magneto-rheological dampers. It’s not violent per se, more authoritative. There’s a touch of understeer, but nothing a blip of the throttle couldn’t correct. It may not have felt like a car bred purely for the circuit, but the best word to describe it is that it’s… solid. Perhaps this is the car that has finally bore fruit of the might of German engineering; it is convincingly easy to pilot. Two laps in and I was already egging the pace car forward, with the disembodied voice of the marshals and instructors on the walkie advising to brake earlier and to be in a higher gear entering corners. It is strangely Audi-esque in its driving nature but make no mistake, the ambiance is all Lamborghini.

Yet, that’s the magic of the Huracan. It bears the DNA of Lamborghini in its linear, wedge shaped fixed-wing form and larger-than-necessary rear mounted engine, but it also shows all the hallmarks of a fine-tuned German machine, making anybody who steps inside its cockpit feel like they’ve just graduated from Top Gun academy. In a nutshell, it’s a point and shoot weapon. It’s a thrill to pilot, no doubt, but in its most basic Strada mode it could easily double as the run-around vehicle for city dwellers and bumper to bumper traffic aficionados. More than anything, it is a (dare I say it).. practical Lamborghini. Is this to be the poster child of the modern age Lamborghini?

But wait, there’s the “big bull”.

If the Huracan is the lady in heels, then surely the Aventador must be its angry mother-in-law. Sitting in the car and inspecting the array of switches on the centre console you’re Scotty readying the Starship Enterprise for warp drive jump. The electronic dash array didn’t help – on one hand, you want to say it looks a little kitschy, but when it lights up you can’t fault it. It’s bright, stays in a prominent position within your peripheral vision and isn’t hampered by pesky things like light reflecting off glass. It takes a lot of will power not to whisper some ridiculous Arnie quote under your breath as you depress the fighter-jet inspired engine “bombs away” start button. This car really does make you feel larger than life.

“If the Huracan is the lady in heels, surely the Aventador must be its angry mother-in-law.”

After slumming it out in the Strada and Sports mode in the Huracan I felt like it was time to dive face first, arse up and blindfolded into the no-nonsense Corsa zone. Why not? When you’re given an Aventador, 700 odd horses and an empty race circuit, it would be criminal otherwise.

With the advent of forced induction creeping into the upper echelons of the super car fraternity, the naturally aspirated V12 was a marvellous respite from the whir of turbines. It’s loud, unapologetic and snarls at you when provoked. Beat on it and it screams back at you as if it’s challenging you to do more. With so many of its modern counterparts heading down the forced induction route it’s magic to fans of yesteryear, where bigger was better and automobiles had as much dramatic flair as a 1970’s David Bowie.

“This car is no Rendez-vous. It’s Fight Club.”

Pitching the car into the corners took a fair bit more effort than its Huracan counterpart as the added weight, heavier steering feel and width of its track came into play. As the laps continued and the braking inched closer to the post-100m mark, it proved it was no slug hauling its 1575kg mass out of the hole, especially when you begin to hop onto the gas as your confidence builds in its all wheel drive mechanism. Compared to the Huracan it’s like turning an aircraft carrier as opposed to a destroyer. You know the power is there – it just takes more deliberate action for it to show itself. When it gets going however… you don’t want to be in its way. It doesn’t always feel like it’s got 700 angry horses pumping away at its wheels, but when you’ve got a 1575kg body to haul around it’s no slouch either. They weren’t joking about the 7-speed ISR transmission in Corsa mode either – in its most heightened state it’s shifting gears and bucking you into your seat at a blistering 50 milliseconds, which is approximately the time it takes for your eyes to register this sentence. Despite other reviews to the contrary, the jolting of the ISR transmission just adds to the Aventador’s overall mystique – like running an angry bull who’s determining whether you’re worthy of commanding it. As the pops and blurbles from the exhaust pipes gradually became louder lap after lap hurtling into the 2nd gear Zhuhai hairpins, the only thought (in between being unceremoniously kicked into the seat) was wondering why they bothered installing any form of stereo in the car.

This car is no Rendez-vous. It’s Fight Club.

It’s not very practical, overpowered (is there such a thing?) and perhaps as useful for city living as an A4 sized Octopus (Metro/Oyster) card – but it is everything a Lamborghini should be. It is pure, unadulterated presence… and it boasts a hell of a lot of it.

Surely, this car must be one’s second trophy wife.

— END OF PART 1 —