The new Lamborghini Huracán doesn't skimp on the drama. It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to put so much on such prominent public display, and the Italian manufacturer knows full well that its cars are about drama, spectacle, sound and fury. Paradoxically, it's the radar-evading forms of American stealth fighter technology that's provided stylistic inspiration for the last few generations of Lamborghini's V10 and V12 powered supercars. From the 2001 Murciélago onwards, Lamborghini's signature has been the angle. Under the direction of Luc Donckerwolke, now head of all VW design, the Italian marque slavishly followed a fetish for facets, with lights, grilles and intakes reduced to stark geometric forms, slashed into the bodywork. The Gallardo and Aventador models that followed continued the theme, although it was taken to its most extreme in limited editions like the Sesto Elemento and Egoista.
The 'baby' of the range, the Huracán replaces the hugely successful Gallardo, the best-selling Lamborghini ever made. Ever since Audi acquired the brand in 1998, Lamborghini has received a quality-boosting fillip to its image, as well as a hefty chunk of technological cross-pollination that has helped both marques. The Gallardo was the biggest recipient of this new partnership, being closely related to the first generation Audi R8. Unsurprisingly, the Huracán also shares a sizeable chunk of its mechanical innards with the second generation R8. Both are four-wheel drive, mid-engined V10 two-seaters. But there, it has to be said, the resemblance ends.
It's a testament to the power of brand identity that the two cars looks so incredibly different. While the R8 is elegant and relatively discrete, the Huracán is an out and out attention grabber. Even before you've fired up the engine, the world is craning its collective neck to get a look. Huracán ownership comes with a sort of self-contained bubble of public interest as all eyes (and smartphones) are inexorably drawn to the car and, presumably, the identity of its occupant. This, we suspect, is exactly what owners want and expect.
Get behind the wheel (blanking out the demands of the outside world) and you can see why this is a special place to be. The dramatic exterior forms are carried through to a dashboard that's kinked and faceted and stacked up with digital dials and read-outs and multiple switches. Again, the visual riff is on the fighter jet; just as Harley Earl translated the thrusting gung-ho forms of Fifties war machines into an elaborate Detroit Baroque, the Huracán distils the cloak and dagger design of today's military-industrial-technical complex into a piece of highly desirable machinery.
Ignoring the Freudian origins of a product that harks after weaponry and is named after a fighting bull (as are all Lamborghinis), the Huracán is an object to savour, whether you're driving it, watching it or even listening to it. The furious snarls, crackles and pops produced by a modern engine are carefully engineered, but any questions of authenticity are banished by the experience of driving. 100km/h is reached in just over three seconds and the - academic, naturally - top speed is over 200 mph, an essential if irrelevant statistic that confers membership of the modern supercar club.
For now, the Huracán is the core of the brand, but within a few years Lamborghini will be selling the Urus, its first modern SUV (discounting the entertainingly absurd LM002 of the 80s). It will inevitably trounce the Huracán in the showroom, if not on the track. The traditional, low-slung supercar looks set to become increasingly scarce, just as the Huracán creates the ultimate template as to how they should be done.