The Performante’s engine in Lamborghini’s rear-drive chassis? Hold on tight

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There aren’t many ways, at least plausible ones, in which Lamborghini’s modern supercars could be made even more exciting, but removing the front driveshafts is one of them. And that’s exactly what has happened here.

This is the Huracán Evo RWD, with the initials standing for ‘Rear-Wheel Drive’, Lamborghini having opted to anglicise the derivative’s name rather than following Italian supercar protocol and simply using the mother tongue for added exoticism. That would have resulted in the more romantic-sounding, if lengthy, Huracán Evo Trazione Posteriore.

Only 7kg separates this new rear-drive Evo and the old Performante. Were they to do a rear-drive replacement for the Performante, such a car would get close to McLaren levels of lightness

Of course, neither rolls off the tongue quite so sweetly as the name Balboni, which is where this new car’s lineage begins. Named in honour of the then chief test driver Valentino Balboni, the excellent Gallardo LP550-2 Balboni of 2009 was the first Lamborghini since the Diablo – and Audi ownership – to be offered with rear-wheel drive alone.

Lighter than the regular Gallardo and less powerful but also less expensive, it laid down a template Lamborghini follows to this day. The Huracán Evo RWD is therefore not only the least powerful mid-engined machine built in Sant’Agata today but also the most affordable, if you can call £164,400 affordable. What we’ll now discover is whether, in true Porsche 911 fashion, the simplest Huracán is also the one to have.

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The Huracan line-up at a glance

Mid-life updates signified by the ‘Evo’ moniker haven’t altered the look of Lamborghini the Huracán range, which still starts with coupé and convertible versions of the rear-driven model. The core of the line-up remains the four-wheel drive derivative, which now uses the old Performante engine, minus the bronze cam covers. And on the subject of Lamborghini the Performante, which was discontinued in 2019, spy shots suggest an even more hardcore version closely related to the Super Trofeo racing cars is in the works.

What Car? New car buyer marketplace - Lamborghini Huracan


Lamborghini Huracan EVO RWD 2020 road test review - hero side

This is not the first coming of an exclusively rear-driven Huracán. Before Lamborghini made broad mid-life changes to its entry-level supercar in 2018 – hence the Evo moniker – the Huracán LP580-2 occupied the role. And on the face of it, not an awful lot has changed.

At 1389kg, the dry weight is identical, and the RWD model remains 33kg lighter than the regular Huracán Evo thanks to the removal of the front and centre differentials, and the front half-shafts. The same lightning-fast dual-clutch gearbox is supplied by Graziano and sits behind the engine, feeding torque to the 305-section rear Pirelli P Zero tyres through a mechanical limited-slip differential.

Get the adaptive suspension. We haven’t tried the standard passive set-up but there were times during this test when anything other than Strada would have been too firm.

The dry-sumped 90deg V10 is lifted directly from the Huracán Performante, albeit reined in to deliver 602bhp instead 631bhp and 413lb ft instead of 443lb ft. Turbo free, it’s still operating near the limit of its reliable potential and now uses titanium valves lighter than the aluminium ones fitted to the 572bhp motor found in the RWD’s predecessor. The addition of a new intake manifold and an even freer-flowing exhaust complete the picture, which is that of arguably one of the most responsive and sweetly revving road-going engines ever.

The remaining changes are subtle. Like any Huracán, the RWD uses double-wishbone suspension, although the anti-roll bars and suspension – passive as standard, with magnetorheological dampers optional – are softer all round, and more so at the lighter front axle. The decision to keep the tail firmer in theory gives the handling a more playful balance, which is welcome.

The carbon-ceramic brake discs found on the regular Huracán Evo have also been substituted for smaller cast-iron items and the RWD goes without Lamborghini’s clever LDVI chassis technology. This is new for the Evo and uses torque vectoring, a variable, speed-dependent steering ratio and rear-wheel steering to increase agility and point-to-point pace. The entry-level Huracán extols an altogether more simple premise, and perhaps a more effective one.


Lamborghini Huracan EVO RWD 2020 road test review - cabin

SGANCIO. It means ‘release’ and is the command embossed deeply into the prominent aluminium levers that sit front and centre of Lamborghini’s carbon-framed Sports seats.

With the viciously raked windscreen, pillbox view forward and reclined dashboard, the experience of sliding into the dark, foreboding innards of Lamborghini the Huracán has never wanted for drama or sense of occasion, but these seats address one of the car’s biggest failings: the perched driving position. These now feel bolted directly on the floorpan, are muscularly bolstered and slide back generously, although not so much that taller drivers cannot position the steering wheel, whose column remains widely adjustable, exactly when they want it.

Huracán RWD has less need for gimmicks than most other Lamborghinis, but the red trigger guard first seen on the Aventador LP700-4 makes another appearance

The seats have also released some much needed head room, and so finally, before you’ve hit the engine-start button and roused 5.2 litres of V10, the Huracán feels like a serious driver’s car.

However, some of the trimmings do still feel flimsy – for example, the bank of toggle switches for the nose lift system, ESC and windows – and the air vents appear to have been tacked on at the last minute. The cold, angular geometry that gives the place an air of machismo also makes this a less welcoming cabin than that of a Ferrari F8 Tributo and Lamborghini still contrives to fit the shallowest central storage tray in lieu of an armrest compartment and the glovebox is almost deliberately small.

There is, at least, some space for phones underneath the central buttress, which now houses the touchscreen display, and some room for overnight bags on the ledge behind the seats. However, the 100-litre ‘frunk’ remains small to the extent that you’d swear the Huracán used pushrod suspension.

Lamborghini Huaracan EVO infotainment and sat-nav

Lamborghini’s reliance on old Audi switchgear for the original Huracán always undermined the car’s sense of occasion and cutting-edge technology. For the Evo, those clunky controls have been replaced with the 8.4in touchscreen shown above. If you can keep the screen relatively clear of greasy fingerprints, it certainly looks the part, but ergonomic issues blight the experience. Altering the volume, for example, requires several commands, all positioned at the base of the display, and the touch-sensitivity of the system isn’t always reliable.

Lamborghini might also have updated the digital instrument binnacle, although the central tachometer remains exceptionally clear and easily visible through the steering wheel. Meanwhile, both DAB and smartphone mirroring are available as optional extras and you’ll find two USB ports at the back of the transmission tunnel, near the firewall.


Lamborghini Huracan EVO RWD 2020 road test review - engine

Global events precluded the scrutiny of telemetry, but Lamborghini’s claims usually prove trustworthy.

Therefore, there’s little reason to doubt the rear-drive Huracán will accelerate to 62mph in 3.3sec, to 124mph in a shade over nine and on past 200mph, making this the first entry-level Lamborghini to do so. The Lamborghini regular Huracán goes even quicker, needing 2.9sec to hit 62mph.

Aesthetic changes for the two-wheel drive Huracán are few but, to quickly identify one of these cars, look at the rear diffuser. The design is simpler, with two large venturi tunnels, and it is not painted the same colour as the body.

However, once on the move, when the tractive benefits of a driven front axle have ebbed, the ‘lesser’ variant gives away almost nothing and both cars exhibit truly stomach-turning pace. After all, only 11bhp per tonne separates them, although in this respect the McLaren 570S beats both Lamborghinis, and the McLaren 720S and F8 Tributo do better still.

However, none is anywhere near as glorious as the Huracán, whose V10 delivery is every bit as linear and pure as you can imagine, all the way to the 8500rpm redline.

Only the race-derived 4.0-litre flat six in the Porsche 911 GT3 feels so satisfying and elemental, and even that engine has recently lost some of its electrifying rasp, courtesy of new filters. The Lamborghini’s massive displacement also has an impact, with 70% of torque arriving at only 1000rpm, ensuring that despite the lack of forced induction, severe performance is only an ankle flex away. To bastardise Samuel Johnson’s famous words, if you’re tired of this engine, you’re tired of cars.

But this powertrain also has manners to match the mayhem. Never is there any suggestion the engine might suddenly overwhelm the chassis and, unless severely provoked, traction is supreme in the dry.

Apart from its keenness to hitch the highest possible gear at all times, the dual-clutch transmission – lightning quick on the attack – is lazily clinical when you want to make your way calmly in Strada mode, and it’s easy company in town. You may at times even forget what exactly is nestling barely 12in behind your ears.


Lamborghini Huracan EVO RWD 2020 road test review - on the road front

Nobody even half-serious about driving could fail to appreciate the sweeter balance the Huracán RWD possesses. The sensation is most noticeable through second- or third-gear bends, when the limited-slip diff does its highly effective best to smother the available torque into the road surface, driving the car forward in a perceptible squat.

In this scenario, Lamborghini the regular Huracán is both flatter and quicker, because both axles muck in, but what it won’t so easily do, even with electronic aids switched off entirely, is set the rear on an invisibly but tangibly wider arc than the front axle. The RWD does so with relative ease, and it feels sublime to drive such an outwardly fearsome machine in this way.

The standard cast-iron brakes trigger the ABS too easily, but improved feel makes them a better bet on the road than expensive ceramic ones.

But while the engine lacks the ability to detonate an explosive degree of torque at any moment, like a 911 GT2 RS can, there are still limits to the car’s tolerance of ham-fisted driving. On public roads, it’s highly unlikely, we hope, that you’ll get caught up in fourth-gear oversteer, but even at lower speeds, when the rear axle does move out of line, it can do so with surprising speed and requires quick reflexes to catch.

The steering response is at least consistent and quick and the RWD comes as standard without Lamborghini’s speed-dependent variable rack. The suspension geometry also clearly and enjoyably communicates the flow of weight, even if it fails to summon the profound sense of connection found with hydraulic-steering McLarens.

As for ride, it is far from a disgrace. Because this is an entry-level Huracán, relatively modest 19in alloy wheels are standard and pave the way for a generous level of road-absorbing sidewall. Carbon-ceramic brake discs would reduce unsprung mass and be likely to improve ride quality further but, as it stands, the RWD rolls along well, if not with quite the same cool detachment as the alternatives. We’d still have the adaptive dampers.


Lamborghini Huracan EVO RWD 2020 road test review - hero front

The claimed 20.5mpg combined seems realistic in our experience, and the Huracán RWD manages almost 30mpg at a cruise. Single-digit economy beckons should you unleash its true V10 performance, though.

At £164,400, the RWD is also well priced compared with the F8 Tributo and McLaren 720S, both of which are much more powerful but cost more than £200,000. Equally, the McLaren’s younger sibling, the 570S, is usefully less expensive than the Lamborghini and, although not nearly so eventful, is an even finer tool for drivers, with that wonderful steering.

Lamborghini’s new Sports seats improve the driving position no end. Taller owners shouldn’t think twice.

Unusually for Lamborghini, and perhaps because of the canny pricing, the Huracán Evo RWD is also forecast to hold its value better than most cars from Sant’Agata. For those buying new, it could therefore be one for both the head and the heart.

What Car? New car buyer marketplace - Lamborghini Huracan


Lamborghini Huracan EVO RWD 2020 road test review - static

When Lamborghini expressed an ambition for the Huracán Evo to prise business from Porsche’s GT division and McLaren, we were sceptical. And rightly so.

TheLamborghini four-wheel-drive Huracán remains an imperfect driver’s tool, more heavily and obviously reliant on clever chassis electronics than any 911 GT3 and less expressive or flowing in its handling than the explosive V10 engine note suggests. It’s an awe-inspiring machine, but also one that lacks the depth and breadth of talent seen in several rivals.

The finest driver’s car Lamborghini makes is also the most attainable

This rear-drive take on the Huracán Evo is different and demonstrates the sort of fundamental handling appeal that brings this car close to meeting Lamborghini’s original ambition. The rear-defined balance, new-found delicacy in the steering and a propensity for oversteer that requires genuine respect for the forces involved combine to deliver an old-school kind of supercar experience, albeit one with excellent everyday drivability and manageable dimensions.

Capable of searing pace and with an engine to die for, the Huracán Evo RWD shows that even in the heights of the flamboyant, bombastic supercar class, less can still be more. More of this, please, Lamborghini.

What Car? New car buyer marketplace - Lamborghini Huracan

Richard Lane

Richard Lane
Title: Deputy road test editor

Richard joined Autocar in 2017 and like all road testers is typically found either behind a keyboard or steering wheel.

As deputy road test editor he delivers in-depth road tests and performance benchmarking, plus feature-length comparison stories between rival cars. He can also be found presenting on Autocar's YouTube channel.

Mostly interested in how cars feel on the road – the sensations and emotions they can evoke – Richard drives around 150 newly launched makes and models every year. His job is then to put the reader firmly in the driver's seat. 

Lamborghini Huracán Evo First drives