BAHRAIN — Real drivers don’t need electronic “nannies,” digital training wheels. We flesh-and-blood humans are better at piloting a speeding car than any computer will ever be!
Garry Kasparov thought he was better than any computer at chess too. And, for a while, he was. Then, in 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer beat him.
So too it will be with cars. Computers can’t drive for you — at least not yet — but they have become so smart they can seamlessly amplify your skill, enhance it, without getting in the way. This represents a massive leap forward in automotive technology.
Understand that I was a driving purist, a firm believer in the need to switch off the electronics in order to truly “drive” a car to its limit.
The Lamborghini Huracan Evo was my Deep Blue.
Pitch this 631 horsepower, mid-engine Italian wedge of a supercar into a corner and it doesn’t turn, rather, it pivots around you. Jab the throttle before the corner’s apex and the car slips so smoothly into a four-wheel drift that you surprise yourself with the effortless way in which you ride it out, adding more throttle to prolong this miraculous feeling.
What is going on here? The old Huracan was not great on a racetrack, even compared to McLaren’s much cheaper 570S. The Lamborghini lacked precision and stiffness. It liked to understeer, and was reluctant to let you slide it around. This updated Huracan — dubbed Evo — gains rear-wheel steering, four-wheel torque vectoring, and something totally new called an LDVI, or “Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Integrata.”
“(LDVI) is a way to synchronize the brain of the car with the brain of the driver,” says Maurizio Reggiani, the company’s chief technical officer. “Every driver is different; the car must be able to understand everything.”
The LDVI is a central processor, a digital brain. Most cars have a myriad of electronic systems — adaptive suspension, steering, stability control — each working on its own. Maybe the systems talk to each other, but they’re like players in an orchestra without a conductor. They each have their own idea of how things should go. The LDVI acts as the conductor.
If the driver suddenly turns tighter mid-way through a corner, the LDVI interprets sensor data — steering angle, yaw, roll, pitch, suspension forces, etc. — and decides the best way to deliver on the driver’s input. Maybe that means using torque vectoring, or it may mean using the rear-wheel steering, or a combination of systems to make the turn. The process is totally smooth, taking just 0.02 seconds. It makes the car’s behaviour slightly supernatural, but not unintuitive.
The Huracan Evo feels so much more agile, light and nimble than its predecessor. If you drove them blindfolded — but please don’t — you would swear the Evo were an entirely new car. Rear-wheel steering, which neither McLaren or Ferrari competitors have, plus a new set of sticky Pirelli tires make a big difference, but Lamborghini’s engineers credit the Evo’s dramatic improvement primarily to LDVI.
“Not everybody can be a professional driver but everybody wants to use all the power,” Reggiani says. Try that in an old Lamborghini, even the 2011 Aventador, without the requisite skill and you’d likely end up in a ditch. In the Evo, an average driver can enjoy the power without fighting against the electronics or switching them off.
Yes, the computerized brain makes the car easier to drive, but not easy. With the grip and power of modern sports cars, most drivers could honestly use help ascending the learning curve.
Automotive electronics have come a long way from the rudimentary stability control systems of the late 1990s that were abrupt and intrusive. The Huracan isn’t the only car to employ a central processor like this; the new BMW M5 does too with similar effect. The best news here is that drivers who don’t have a Scrooge McDuck-style pit of money with which to fund a car purchase will benefit too, eventually. Processing power is cheap. As with most digital car tech, expect LDVI-style systems to trickle down into more affordable cars in the near future.
Base Price: $313,529
Engine: 5.2-litre V-10
Transmissions: seven-speed dual clutch
Fuel economy (l/100 km): TBD
Drive: all-wheel drive
Alternatives: McLaren 720S, 570S, Ferrari 488 Italia, Audi R8 V10
Minor exterior changes belie drastic changes within. The new rear diffuser, subtle rear wing, front splitter, flat underfloor and elaborate intakes and vents are all done in the name of aerodynamics. More importantly, check out those super-cool high-mounted exhaust pipes.
Customers wanted more differentiation from the Audi R8, with which the Huracan shares its architecture. Consequently, there’s a new 8.4-inch touchscreen in the centre console which you won’t find in the R8. If that’s not enough, the severely compromised outward visibility reminds you this is the Italian car and not the German one.
The engine is essentially taken from Huracan Performante: 631 hp at 8,000 rpm and 442 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s not as quick as turbocharged rivals, lacking their ballistic mid-range shove, but the Lambo’s V-10 sounds better and stirs the soul. The V-10 is still the main reason to choose the Huracan.
Waze maps integration is coming, and the new screen uses gesture controls to adjust the stereo volume. The car can compare your driving telemetry data to that of a friend. The company says people want this tech. Sure, but will they use it?
Pack a Speedo, not your baggy surf shorts.
Score: 8.5 /10: More than a refresh, a digital brain makes it feel like a whole new Huracan.
You’ll like this car if... you’re ready to embrace the future.