One last drive in magnificent Lamborghini V10 model as automotive hall of fame beckons

Before the V10 models are discontinued next year, we take one last journey across Italy in a collection of Lamborghini's sublime supercars

The line-up of Lamborghini Huracan models that were driven across Italy. All photos: Wolfango Spaccarelli
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A screaming V12 engine has been the hallmark of every Lamborghini flagship since the storied car manufacturer’s inception in 1963. However, much of the company’s success over the past two decades is founded on the melodious V10 that sits below it in the hierarchy of Raging Bull.

The V10 powertrain was first developed for the wedge-shaped Lamborghini Gallardo in 2003, and continuous enhancement of the engine means it’s still going strong two decades later in the current Huracan line-up.

The Gallardo comfortably outsold any Lamborghini before it, with precisely 14,022 produced during its 10-year life cycle. The V12-powered Aventador sold about 11,500 during its 10-year reign from 2012. The Huracan has fared even better, selling 25,000 units since launching in 2014. It isn’t done yet, as there are still 10 months or so of production before it is phased out by the manufacturer alongside the V10 engine (which is being shelved by Lamborghini’s parent company Volkswagen).

Sadly for petrolheads, the Huracan's unnamed successor is likely to use a quieter engine when it launches late next year, with the manufacturer expected to turn to a V8 plug-in hybrid instead. The distinctive howl of the Lamborghini V10 is unmistakable, and even though Audi used a variant of the same engine in the recently-discontinued R8, the timbre of the Lambo Huracan is unique. You can hear it approaching from half a kilometre away and immediately discern the identity of the car, without even seeing it.

As a final swansong for the Huracan, Lamborghini organised an epic 600km road trip for a small group taking on all of the model’s variants – STO, Tecnica, Sterrato and Evo Spyder. The journey began at Lamborghini’s HQ in Sant’Agata Bolognese and carved up some excellent driving roads in Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany over two days.

Stops along the way included the Villa Campestri Oleoteca for some olive oil tasting and the Fantiscritti Carrara marble quarry to learn about the luxury material’s history and how it has been used in everything from Michelangelo’s famed sculptures to design details in Dubai hotels.

For the first leg of the trip, I’m allocated a matte red STO with blue and black highlights. The winged beast is the most extreme interpretation of the Huracan as its over-the-top aero package is complemented by a track-focused chassis setup that offers negligible suspension compliance out in the real world. The rear-wheel-drive STO is a mighty weapon on a racetrack – I’ve experienced this first-hand – but the 640hp supercar isn’t an ideal companion on lumpy public roads.

The heavily sculpted seats become wearisome after a while, and each tarmac-surface imperfection is transmitted through to your spine. Rearview visibility isn’t a strong point in any Huracan model, but it is virtually zero in the STO as the rooftop air intake that runs down the spine of the car, plus the huge rear wing, means I cannot see anything out of the back. It is certainly not ideal when reversing it into a tight spot.

The next Huracan I try is a canary yellow Tecnica, which is a toned-down, quieter version of the STO. Its low-key aero package is much more to my taste than the extreme bodywork addenda worn by its sibling. The Tecnica is by no means a cossetting boulevard cruiser as the V10 engine is always audible, while ride quality – although more compliant than that of the bone-jarring STO – is still busy over anything less than perfectly smooth roads.

Given that the Huracan is now almost 10 years old, its cabin and infotainment system are starting to look and feel slightly dated. Even so, the Tecnica represents a nice balance between a car that is usable (for some owners) as a daily driver, yet still lightning-fast and razor-sharp on a racetrack. Our lunch stop on the opening day is at the Villa Campestri Oleoteca, where we learn to distinguish high-quality olive oil from the run-of-the-mill variety sold in supermarkets wearing “extra virgin” labels.

A blind taste test illustrates how premium olive oil creates an explosion of flavour on the tongue and palate. Where mass-market oil has a bland taste, a good quality olive oil can have discernible hints of fruitiness and/or spiciness.

Suitably educated, and having ingested a hearty lunch, it is time to hit the road again. My next ride is a light blue Evo Spyder. Some supercar purists sneer at roofless offerings, believing the absence means they sacrifice some degree of torsional stiffness. The truth is that – unless you are on a racetrack – you are not really going to perceive any loss of dynamism or enjoyment factor in the Evo Spyder. On the contrary, drop the roof, and you get to fully savour the magnificence of that operatic, spine-tingling V10 engine.

You also get to take in the surroundings in detail. Given that our drive takes place in autumn, there’s a wonderful assortment of colours in the landscape as the leaves change in colour from green to various shades of yellow, orange and red.

Our overnight pitstop is in the seaside town of Forte dei Marmi and dinner that evening is in an opulent mansion – named Villa Alpemare – owned by celebrated Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli. It is a surreal setting and the experience is almost as evocative as being in the Sistine Chapel, around 380km south in the Vatican City. Setting off from Forte dei Marmi the following morning, I’m assigned a white Sterrato with black and red livery, including the number 63 emblazoned on the bonnet to commemorate Lamborghini’s birth year. With its black bolt-on wheel arch cladding, Bridgestone Dueler all-terrain tyres, roof rails and driving lights perched on its nose, the Sterrato stands apart from its siblings.

Conceived as an all-surface weapon, this variant sits 44mm higher than other Huracans, while underbody cladding protects sensitive components from damage when you are blasting across gravel roads. The Sterrato’s air intake also migrates to the top of the roof to ensure the V10 does not ingest a lungful of dirt and rocks when going off-piste.

As unlikely as it seems, this offbeat variant is, in many ways, the most enjoyable one in real-world settings. Apart from providing a softer drive, the Sterrato’s ground clearance means I don’t have to slow down to a crawl over speed humps and steep driveway entrances. Yes, its speed is limited to (only) 260kph – not as quick as the STO or Tecnica on a racetrack – but very few owners are likely to care. It is no surprise Lamborghini sold out the entire 1,499-unit production run of the Sterrato in only two days.

The return journey to Lamborghini HQ provides the opportunity to reflect on two decades of a magnificent V10 that belongs in the automotive hall of fame. No other engine in a production car has stirred emotions quite like this 10-cylinder powerplant, and the fast and engaging Huracan has been a sublime platform to showcase it in.

Lamborghini has its work cut out in creating a worthy successor.

Updated: December 16, 2023, 4:14 AM