COTY 2022 Runner Up — Lamborghini Huracan STO
With brutal performance and a bonkers soundtrack, second place never felt so good.
It’s a question that soon, and sadly, will no longer be an issue, but still feels vital today—how important is the sound equation when it comes to evaluating the desirability of a supercar? Indeed, can a car even be properly “super” if it doesn’t make the kind of howling, growling and gripping noises that make your jaw drop and your stomach flip?
Lamborghini’s Huracan has always made the kind of sounds you would get if you constructed a symphony orchestra in which the entire strings section was replaced with cannons. But in the case of this new, staggering STO version, those barking, bonkers noises are allowed to penetrate the cabin more fully and violently than ever, thanks to this being the stripped-down, abs-rippling track-attack variant, with anything frivolous or sound deadening removed.
It’s also fair to say that if this COTY was merely a quick-draw gunfight between the top two contenders, the Ferrari would be blood red and dead, because if you had two drivers pressing both “Start” buttons at once, it would be no contest.
The 296 GTB starts with an electric hum and then, well, silence, thanks to its more modern, and undeniably more punchy, hybrid set-up. Jabbing a digit into the Huracan’s button, meanwhile, makes you want to shout something appropriate, like “Unleash hell!”
It’s also appropriate to compare the Huracan, its vast V10 engine and its exhausts to a musical instrument because every time someone gets in it you can hear them playing with its modal abilities—there’s a point just above 4,000rpm where some kind of valve opens and it goes from brilliant to berserk, and you can gleefully use your right foot to dance between the two.
So, unquestionably this is the best and most super-sounding car of this year’s suite, but the Lamborghini is also the most visceral in design terms. Yes, the Huracan is a very familiar shape—it’s been with us since 2014, and that does count against it in the final judges’ conversations and ultimate reckoning; it’s a new variant while the 296 is a wholly new Ferrari. But the Lambo does really turn up the wild to 11—look at that snorkel on the roof, that refitted front end, that vast rear wing.
From inside, it’s even crazier, with the door handles replaced by cloth loops, everything—even the floor mats—made of carbon fibre, and a sense of absolute purpose. Then there’s the view out the rear, which makes you feel like you’re inside a lobster. It also feels like a race car, because it is a “one-to-one road version” of the actual GT3 Super Trofeo racer, as Lamborghini describes it. Consider that, on slick tyres, the GT3 car manages a time of 1 minute 45 seconds around the Daytona circuit in the US, while the STO does it in 1.48, on road-legal tyres. Effectively, there is almost nothing between the two, and the STO’s 5.2-litre engine’s 470 kW and 565 Nm has never felt so brutal.
On a racetrack, the Lamborghini provides that fabulous feeling of being completely alive, because you can see death just around the next bend. It feels hammered down into the circuit surface by all its downforce. And its brakes are simply astonishing, beyond anything we’ve ever felt on a road-legal vehicle before.
Much like the 911 GT3, however, this means there are some obvious and unavoidable consequences when you try to drive it on public roads. Suspension travel is limited—you don’t need it when you’re racing, because there are no pot holes, but on the roads of rural NSW its absence becomes painfully obvious.
It is also, thanks to its purist, rear-drive set-up, a potential widowmaker, particularly if it rains. There’s just so much power trying to get to the ground that it feels overwhelming at times, both for you and the car’s computers.
Lamborghini has confirmed that the replacement for the Huracan, due in 2024, will be hybridised (and possibly turbocharged) and when that happens the fight between the two old Italian foes will be on in earnest.
Even with an eight-year-old platform, and an old-school approach, the STO ran a very close contest this year.
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