Lamborghini Huracan STO prototype | PH Review

Huracan set to go out on a high with 630hp race-inspired track-focused special

By Mike Duff / Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The biggest division between supercars isn't one between rival brands. Nor the question of turbocharging versus natural aspiration, the relative merits of rear- and all-wheel drive or whether carbon structures beat aluminium. Strip everything back to its essence and the question is a simpler one: show or go. Do you want a car to look cool, draw a crowd and dominate traffic light drag races? Or are you going to actually use a significant percentage of its towering performance on a regular basis?

The Huracan STO is designed as an answer to the second of these questions. But its status as the fastest and most expensive member of the Huraclan means it is likely to exert an equally compelling pull on poseurs. STO stands for Super Trofeo Omologata – this is meant to be the closest thing possible to a road-legal version of the company's Super Trofeo racer. But while it is designed for life on track you know a significant percentage will likely end up doing nothing tougher than cruising Knightsbridge. And that will be a waste.

While the basics are all familiar, the STO is set to be considerably more extreme than even the Performante that was previously Boss Huracan. Lamborghini says the rear-driven STO is three seconds quicker than its all-wheel driven predecessor around a lap of the Daytona International Speedway, and just two and a half seconds shy of the Huracan GT3 Evo race car's time. A strange track to choose for the comparison, maybe – but still a big difference.

The STO has managed to do this without an increase in power. The 5.2-litre naturally aspirated V10 makes the same peak 631hp that it did in both the Performante and more recent AWD Huracan Evo, but torque has actually fallen- 416lb-ft representing a 27lb-ft decline over the Performante. The STO is rear drive, the change saving weight but meaning it misses out on headline acceleration. The official 3.0-second 0-62mph time and 9.0-second 0-124mph time are both a tenth slower than the Performante over the same increments. The STO's 193mph top speed – brought down by lowered gearing – is actually slower. So if you want the bragging rights of the fastest on-paper Huracan, it won't be this one.

Weight has been trimmed, as well. The STO gets magnesium alloy wheels, titanium rear arches and a single piece 'cofango' front-hinged carbon clamshell. The cabin loses carpets and gains both a rear half-cage and carbon-framed race seats. Lamborghini says the windscreen is 20 percent lighter than the one in the Performante. On stated numbers the STO is 1339kg dry, 43kg less than the same figure for the Performante with about 30kg of that coming from the loss of all-wheel drive.

I got to experience a pair of disguise-clad STO development prototypes through multiple stints on the 3.8-mile handling circuit at Porsche's Nardó proving ground in southern Italy – the place that many development engineers will cite as their favourite non-race track. This is a properly intense experience in something quick, mostly thanks to the massively fast first corner – a very long left hander at the end of a 1km straight which, for the bold and fearless, is flat in pretty much anything. I'll be building up slowly to that one…

As with lesser Huracans, the V10 remains the star of the STO's show. It isn't noticeably louder than the regular car, certainly not when experienced through the padding of a helmet, but the top-end soundtrack has been given an even more savage snarl. Throttle response feels keener, too – reaction to even the smallest change in accelerator pressure is instantaneous. While obviously lacking in low-down torque compared to the turbocharged competition the STO never feels short on grunt, even when short-shifted or entering some of the track's longer corners in a higher than optimal gear so as not to need to change up half way around them.

The STO gets new suspension bushes and anti roll-bars with recalibrated active dampers that keep the chassis' mass under iron-fisted discipline. Settings can be switched using the ANIMA system, with these modes now rebranded. STO is for road use, Trofeo for a dry track and Pioggia for use in the wet. The stability control system's intervention threshold is raised substantially in Trofeo, and it can also be fully switched off.

The Huracan's driving position is as tight-fitting as ever, with most of the carbon shelled seat's recline needed to keep my helmeted head from banging into the roof. As with lesser versions, the steering is still lighter than the supercar norm. The STO gets a fixed ratio rack, but this still only gives limited resistance around the straight ahead, meaning that turning into faster corners is done more on trust than fulsome feedback through the wheel. It also gets the rear-steering system from the Huracan Evo, which adds help without increasing sensation. But once the chassis has loaded up confidence increases to become near-total.

Despite its lack of driven wheels the STO has both huge traction on track-biased bespoke Bridgestone Potenzas and impressive (and unscary) adjustability thanks to the beautifully balanced chassis and the ultra-precise throttle. It's no surprise to discover the mighty engine can be used to progressively overwhelm the grip of the rear tyres, but the STO also allows its cornering line to be instinctively influenced by weight transfer and playing with the balance between front and rear axles, like a much faster and much grippier Porsche Cayman. The overall effect is a remarkably friendly track-focused supercar, one that feels less bitey with even with its stability control fully off than the McLaren 765LT does it its ESC Dynamic mode.

Huge downforce also helps increase both adhesion and confidence. The STO doesn't get active aero elements, but the huge rear wing can be manually adjusted between three settings. In max attack it makes a claimed 450kg at 174mph and with a substantial percentage of that claimed to be available at more track-typical speeds. (For reference the Performante makes its peak 350kg at 193mph.)

It took a while to build faith in the hugeness of the aero-assistance – the steering doesn't gain weight as the forces build – but it makes a huge difference in faster turns, also when asking the STO to change direction quickly. It played a large part in seeing an indicated peak of 275km/h on the way into the handling circuit's first corner, which felt heroic until I found out a Bugatti Chiron turns in around 30km/h faster with a sufficiently brave pilot on board. The chance to experience the STO's different wing settings delivered the counter-instinctive revelation that I actually preferred having less help, happily trading high speed squish for more adjustability and a livelier-feeling chassis in the medium-speed turns.

Transmission and brakes are well up to the hardest track use, too. The regular Huracan's twin-clutch gearbox has been turned up to 11 in the STO, which delivered lightning fast shifts and handled long stints without complaint. The brakes are even more impressive, Lamborghini joining the trend to switch to motorsport spec CCM-R discs that are claimed to offer a 25 percent more stopping power over regular ceramics and a 400 percent improvement in thermal conductivity. These proved tireless and soon made even what instinctively seemed to be brave-feeling braking points feel wussy. The STO also gets a neat dashboard display to report on disc and fluid temperatures – tacitly encouraging you to try harder – with only the hardest stops turning these from green to yellow, and then only for a couple of seconds.

Half a day at Nardó in the prototype version leaves no doubt the production STO will be mighty on a circuit, but gives few clues as to what it will be like on road beyond proof of its hardness and loudness. It certainly feels much more serious than the Performante that already sat at the Pista/Long Tail level within the model hierarchy. For much of Lamborghini's clientele such compromises won't matter at all – the STO's price tag and on-track performance prove it's the best one. But anyone who buys one should be compelled to give it regular exercise on circuit.

SPECIFICATION | Lamborghini Huracan STO prototype

Engine: 5204cc V10
Transmission: Seven-speed twin-clutch, rear wheel drive
Power (hp): 631hp @ 8000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 416lb-ft @ 6500rpm
0-62mph: 3.0 second
Top speed: 193mph (electronically limited)
Weight: 1339kg 'dry'
Price: £260,000 (provisional)

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