I can’t remember the last time I was so intimidated by a car. I’ve been studying the Lamborghini Huracan STO that just dropped in my driveway for a little while now, taking into account its aggressive details, of which there are plenty.
There’s a Le Mans prototype-style stabilizer wing that runs the length of the car’s spine, just behind a sizable roof scoop (for cooling, not intake air, before you ask). You might miss both of these due to the manually adjustable fender, which gives the appearance of bull horns when the car is viewed from the front.
At the other end is a splitter supplying air to the new rear diffuser and a massive shell that incorporates the hood, fenders and bumper. The fenders are louvered to help evacuate air from the wheel arches, and there are a pair of ducts in the middle of the hood section to keep the radiators cool. Most of the body panels are carbon composite, and oh yes, they’re all adorned with yellow decals. Believe it or not, this is far from the least ridiculous decal set you can spec.
The yellow accents and all the aerodynamic additions give an aesthetic that skirts the line between useful and childish. But isn’t that how things should be for a Lamborghini? It feels a million miles from those weirdly restrained original Huracans, and it carries over to the driving experience.
Before you go anywhere, you should get comfortable in the driver’s seat (or about as comfortable as you can get with such a firm chair) and adjust your position behind the wheel using a big lever silver marked “sgancio”. It means “free”, to record a Google.
This being a Lamborghini, it does everything it can to remind you of its country of origin – instead of a fuel level reading there is a ‘livello benzina’, as well as displays for the temperature ‘ olive” and “aqua”. We even find the colors 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 another Italian cliche before driving off.
A nudge of the start button, which lives under a little red flap like a missile drop, shows that caffeine consumption isn’t necessary when you have one available to you. It fires up a naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V10, which doesn’t seem too happy to be woken up. This particular version is shared with the Huracan Evo and was first rolled out for the Performante. While the Perf was all-wheel-drive, the STO’s V10 only powers the rear wheels.
This arrangement reduces the curb weight by 43 kg through the loss of the propeller, drive shafts and center differential, giving a dry total of 1339 kg. More importantly, the rear-wheel-drive setup makes 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 heavily on.
It’s 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 ferocious. And with a clean interior (there’s no carpet in this thing), plus a lack of the particulate filters found in the latest R8, the noise is a glorious, furious howl that fills the cabin.
Perhaps partly because of this, the STO seems much faster in a straight line than the numbers suggest. For reference, that’s 0-62 mph in three dead seconds, 0-124 mph in nine, and a top speed of 193 mph. As ridiculous as it sounds, nat-asp cars like this have started to feel a little sluggish compared to their rivals, which tend to be turbocharged and even more powerful.
Another reason it feels so quick is the firmness – even in the default and slightly softer STO mode, it’s a no-compromise car. On the road, you can’t just start whenever you want – a careful assessment of the road surface must be made first. This firmness means the STO can feel full and a bit sketchy even at more modest speeds through a set of corners, with the car bouncing back from the smallest imperfections in the tarmac.
Fortunately, there’s a very good level of feedback through the steering wheel to let you know what the front wheels are doing. Usually this involves them digging in and hard – the front end of the STO is incredibly sharp. And it’s not on the semi-slicks (which are available as an option) – the Huracan’s center-lock wheels wear road-oriented Bridgestone Potenza Sport tires as standard.
A rear axle steering system, which Lamborghini won’t give you on a Huracan Evo RWD, further helps the car change direction at an almost violent pace. Elsewhere on the handling front, we have a Huracan racer-inspired chassis, with 10mm wider track widths in the front and 16mm in the rear. Two-stage adaptive dampers are new, as are anti-roll bars.
“With the STO, it feels like Lamborghini is finally in a place that makes sense”
To slow things down, the STO is fitted with Brembo’s F1-derived CCM-R (Carbon Ceramic) caps that have better heat resistance and are more powerful than traditional carbon ceramics. They’re extremely powerful, but the ultra-precise response from the top end of the pedal stroke takes 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 to mention some acceleration and smut on an airfield taxiway), but it just about works on the road, if not too effectively than something like a Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
The caveat is that you have to keep it in STO mode – Trofeo just isn’t usable away from the circuit, given how firm the shocks are. It’s a shame you can’t rev the engine to its most aggressive setting regardless of the suspension, especially since Trofeo mode provides a brilliantly aggressive hard limiter to ‘accidentally’ hit with a top gear shift late. In STO, the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox upshifts for you at redline. Boo.
It’s one of our few complaints really, like with the STO it feels like Lamborghini is finally in a place that makes sense. No other car of its modern era marries the silliness and weirdness of the company’s past with the technological wizardry of its present.
Its context away from Lamborghini is even more important. It’s one of those ‘end of an era’ cars that we get a lot these days – as Lambo pledges to keep going with big engines for as long as he can, he’ll have to keep going. relying on electrification to do so, smearing the purity of its currently oil-only wonders. The Huracan replacement is also unlikely to use a V10, especially since Audi is dropping the R8 after this generation.
Cars like the STO simply can’t last much longer. That means every ride of this car is tinged with not just a slight butt-squeezing puff of dread, but also a pinch of sadness. In homage not just to naturally aspirated Lamborghinis, but to combustion-engined supercars as a whole, it couldn’t be more fitting.