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There are very good reasons that you so rarely see people running around in public, or through your house, on ice skates. Sure, they’re a sharp-looking set of footwear, but utilizing them anywhere outside of an ice rink is inviting disaster, damage and possibly the removal of digits.
Lamborghini’s new and completely unhinged Huracán STO is a bit like a set of ice skates, only even sharper, and with rockets attached, and you could similarly argue that it is potentially unwise to drive this mad machine anywhere outside of a tightly controlled surface – that is, a race track.
Yes, lots of car companies – and high-end, high-performance ones in particular – claim to have built a race car for the road, but trust me, Lamborghini has taken that idea to its alarming apotheosis with the STO (Super Trofeo Omologata), which it describes as “a one-to-one version of the Super Trofeo GT3 racing car”.
How close is it? Well, the only immediately obvious differences are that the STO has number plates, and its tires have at least some grooves.
Speaking of tires, I found myself pondering this fact that the Italian engineers were crowing over, just as it started pouring rain over the Phillip Island circuit where we were due to try the huffing Huracán for the first time.
At the legendary Daytona Circuit in the US, the GT3 race car can manage a lap time of one minute and 45 seconds, while the STO can do the same in one minute 48 seconds, which seems impressively quick at first, and then they mention that the ‘road car’ version recorded its lap on street tires, while the racing one was on slicks (which are, as any F1 fan will know, much faster).
So far, so intimidating then, because just like the version driven by super humans who don’t even know how to spell phear, let alone what it is, the STO has a roaring, raging and entirely deafening 5.2-liter V10 engine connected to the rear wheels alone (normal Huracáns are all-wheel drive, which gives you at least some chance of driving one in a straight line when the surface is wet).
The STO machines, with their 470 kilowatts and 565 newton-meters, do have some very vital, life-affirming software that the GT3 car does not – the kind that is designed to maintain traction. They also have a ‘Pioggia’ or ‘Wet’ setting, which very carefully controls just how much of that power you should be allowed to access when the going is wet and woeful.
Accessed via the very cool Anime switch found on all Huracáns, this is actually something very new – replacing the standard car’s ‘Street’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Track’ settings (notionally because it’s just not designed for street driving at all, and ‘Track’ is just a starting point here) with ‘Pioggia’ (because it needs a ‘Wet’ mode), ‘STO’ and ‘Trofeo’, which translates as ‘Might Save You’, ‘Crazy’ and ‘Totally Bonkers, Kiss Your Butt Goodbye’.
I can’t say the ‘Wet’ mode made me feel much safer, as we headed out onto a circuit that was covered in puddles and dotted with some breed of suicidal geese, all who seemed to think the race track was now a suitable place for water fowl.
Hitting one would be expensive, as the STO is 75 per cent carbon fiber – even the door skins on the inside and the floor mats, which feel unusual indeed, are made of the stuff – and the front end most likely to take down a goose is all new. The front hood and fenders from a normal Huracán are ditched in favor of what Lambo calls a “Cofango”, a front end that tilts upward and is hinged at the front, just like the legendary Miura.
Adding to the wild looks is a big air intake on the roof, which sucks cold air into the engine to attempt to keep it cool. The whole top of the car looks like some kind of savage shark fin, and from inside it looks, in your rear-view mirror, like a shark might have eaten you.
As you might imagine, driving this much malevolence in the rain was the kind of challenge that makes your stomach react in the same way as eating a big bowl of ball bearings, each one slathered in salmonella. I don’t want to say that I actually defecated myself, but it was certainly close.
Try to apply even the slightest amount of throttle out of a corner and, even with the traction systems helping you – and you can see their little lights flashing desperately on the dash so you know they’re doing their best – the STO just wants to go sideways, and to do so at great pace.
Down the straight, with the wipers on, we still managed to hit 200 kilometers per hour in the wet, which felt like no effort at all, and it was at this point I discovered just how seriously race spec this Huracán’s brakes are. The stopping power is phenomenal, and if you hit them like normal brakes they simply bury the nose into the ground and you come to an almost complete stop well before your apex, even in the rain.
As our various sessions went on, the rain thankfully blew away and by the end of the day, there was at least a dry line – but still enough standing water to keep your sphincter working desperately – and we were able to explore at least 75 per cent of the STO’s potential, which meant 250 kilometers per hour down the straight, and a solid 180 kilometers per hour through turn one, at which point the car’s phenomenal downforce just makes it feel magnetized to the ground.
Stay on the throttle, hold your nerve, and you really get a sense of what a supremely fast and weaponized version of the Huracán this is. On a track, it reigns supreme and the steering is a delight.
Sadly, I also had an opportunity to drive an STO on the road, and there it really is a set of ice skates attempting to dance across a cobblestoned street. The lack of suspension travel, which makes you feel connected to the tarmac on a race track, becomes an issue, while the overall sense of brutal firmness really starts to wear you out on long drives over unreliable surfaces.
Don’t get me wrong, when you do find a nice stretch of public road with some appropriate corners, the Huracán STO is still a hugely involving, challenging and rewarding thing to drive, but it really, clearly isn’t designed to be at its best in the real world.
One thing it does do very well, however, is scare off any wildlife, including humans, who might be anywhere in the vicinity because it is so stupidly, ridiculously loud that people cover their ears when they feel you coming.
I know race cars are allowed to be that deafening, but I have no idea how they managed to get a street-legal sticker for the STO. But I must admit I was kind of glad they did. There’s a point at around 4,500 rotations per minute where you can just play with its various noises, from bassy braying to balls-out ballistic, and it just never gets tired.
We should all surely miss its naturally aspirated V10 when it’s gone, and there’s a good chance the Huracán is the last car we’ll see with one from the Lamborghini factory.
Which, I guess, makes this STO variant of the Huracán something of a collector’s item, particularly if you’re a collector who also owns a track. And that makes its US$412,922 price tag just about justifiable.