The art of living a Top-Gear weekend

The art of living a Top-Gear weekend

The beauty of Lamborghini Huracán at Waldorf

By Roger Harrison
Saudi Gazette 

The Huracán LP 610-4’s name originates with a particularly aggressive Spanish Conte de la Patilla breed of fighting bull from 1879. 

All I did was book a room for a treat at the Waldorf Astoria. Slept like a log and I am not sure, but I think I woke up.

The nice young lady who called me from the Concierge desk (but it might have been an angel,) said, “Would you care for a drive in one of the cars?” 

Overnight, Lamborghinis had materialised out of the atmosphere and positioned themselves outside the Waldorf Astoria, Ras Al Khaimah. Plural, note; four of them!

Decades of ingrained habit guided me to oblige a lady when possible. I found it just about possible to say ‘yes please’ without dribbling and tottered off for a bracing breakfast. Apparently, booking with Hilton Honors had qualified me for a drive – How? Dunno. But it had.

The next thing I remember with any clarity is something trying to pull my face off backwards. I must have responded rather literally to the lissom young instructor chappy from Lamborghini when he suggested I “give it some wellie”. 

I recall thinking fleetingly of the incongruity of the imagery of wellington boots in the desert, when I felt my face sliding backwards and observed the desert scenery turning into an ochre blur as several hundred horsepower (61.5 of them to each of the 10 cylinders) got to work readjusting my features with a sprint from standing to 100kph in 3.4 seconds!

Why the much-loved Top Gear team never discovered Ras Al Khaimah is something of a mystery to me. As well as some of the best-maintained roads in the UAE it hosts the highest point in the UAE as well, Jebel Jais.

It’s not the height, it’s how you get there that is the glory; 30 or so kilometres of the sharpest hairpins anywhere, stunning views over sheer drop offs into rocky ravines and a virtually indestructible concrete barrier all the way up, designed to prevent an over-enthusiastic petrol head becoming a novice pilot!

Flitting nimbly up the slope in the rear-wheel version of the Huracán is shall we say, ‘interesting’. It’s sort of ‘point and shoot’ with the front end and with enough ‘wellie’, the back end can saunter off on a little journey of its own, helpfully letting you know where it is with loud screeches and a plume of blue smoke.

A convertible variant of the Huracán LP 610-4 first appeared at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2015. The 5.2-litre naturally-aspirated V10 engine is the same as seen in the coupé. It is an uprated version of the Gallardo’s 5.2-liter, V-10 engine that produces 610 horsepower at 8,250 rpm and 413 pound-feet of torque at 6,500 rpm.

In the new “Iniezione Diretta Stratificata” (IDS), direct and indirect petrol injections are innovatively combined delivering the fuel. The result is more power and torque with lower fuel consumption and emissions compared with the Gallardo V10 engine.

The Lamborghini Huracán is the successor to the iconic Gallardo, the most successful Lambo ever and, say the company, “is also redefining the benchmark for luxury super sports cars in this segment”, offering a super sports car experience on a whole new level. 

The spyder version (where DID they find that sky blue) with its retractable top, is to say the least, ‘economical’ with interior space. A standard six-foot corn fed Englishman, I could not get the driving seat back far enough or to a driving position that suited me. This was not however the case on the two hard-tops on offer.

The side profile of the Huracán, reveals that it is shorter than the Aventador. There is a simplicity of line that somehow not characteristic of the Lamborghini presence, the air intakes behind the doors are smaller than on the Aventador. Possibly the appetite for oxygen is not as big on the Huracán. But I have got used to the marque being exotic – note the Sesto Elemento!

From the front, the Huracán has the Lamborghini trademark large intakes, smaller than those on the Aventador and meeting closer to the middle. Next to the Aventador it seems the same but different; you know it’s a best, but that it is not an Aventador! The defining difference with the Huracán is the double pair of y-shaped Aventador headlights. Nice touch.

Systematic lightweight design and Automobili Lamborghini’s extensive expertise in carbon fibre are evident in the Huracán’s new hybrid chassis. It is an integrated structure of carbon and aluminium elements. This helps achieve the car’s dry weight of 1,422 kg,enables the excellent power-to-weight ratio of just 2.33 kilograms per horsepower and delivers race-car precision with outstanding stiffness.

The Lamborghini Huracán sports a redesigned dashboard with the A/C vents protruding. The centre console, which includes a 12.3-inch TFT display, has all the knobs, switches and buttons in one place, including the exotic start button. The TFT display has all the necessary info, from the tachometer to the infotainment system.Large quantities of carbon fibre and Alcantara leather trim the cabinin typical Lamborghini style.

Getting all the power to all four wheels involves a seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox (full auto or paddle-shift) modes with three selections – Strada, Sport and Corsa. These settings (selected from an unassuming switch on the F1 style steering wheel) radically change the basic elements of the car, including the gearbox, suspension, steering, exhaust, stability control, engine behaviour and the all-wheel-drive system. Strada gives you a town car, Sport is as exciting as you would expect with all the necessary revving and spluttering on down changes that you would expect. Corsatransforms the feel of the car utterly with full race-car feel and performance, dropping and hardening the suspension, holding the gears until the top of power curve and positively screaming for joy. (And trying to remove your face backwards!)

A rather nifty ‘chassis lift’ in Sport and Strada modes raises the car a little for the inevitable speed-bumps on local roads, but courteously switches itself off at about 65kph after navigation.

It seems that these driving experience days are common stuff with the Waldorf Astorias around the world. Stay away! You might have fun – then what would the neighbours say.