Beautiful, but attracts the wrong kind of attention

Beautiful, but attracts the wrong kind of attention

ITALIAN style rarely goes wrong, and when those design principles are applied to Lamborghini’s 2018 Huracán Performante, there’s no doubt the result is a magnificent looking sports car. But is this a car women want? I think not.

Too low, too hard, too loud and with appalling visibility. It doubles the school runs, being only a two-seater. Plus it attracts way too much attention and can even become a target, as Madam Wheels discovered much to her consternation while driving in Melbourne’s CBD on a quiet weekday afternoon. But we’ll let that story unfold in a moment.

'Unless you enjoy the sound of metal scraping against road, the lifting system will quickly become your best friend.'

The Huracán variant I road tested over two days was a $630,000 proper sports car, designed as it was to be the fastest of its type. Which explains why everything in it was hard - the seats, the suspension and clambering in and out. My lanky 13-year-old daughter suggested “it would be easier to drive-roll” into the passenger bucket, a manoeuvre I wouldn’t recommend unless the softer, upholstered leather electric seats were in place (a factory-fitted option available at no cost, with heating, too).

My passenger on this particular day, Louisa Prentice, of LP Interiors, was incredibly tolerant of our low-riding situation as we circumnavigated Richmond and Melbourne’s CBD city looking for smart pieces for the Madam Wheels HQ. She waved off any notion of discomfit by virtue of her being “so short”. I know she was just being polite. There was no hiding, though, how taken she was with the car’s bicolour “Sportivo” interior (a $5100 option) with its all-black suede and Alcantara finishes and headlining, detailed with “Rosso” stitching, seatbelts ($2800 extra) and seat embroidery. There were buttons and digital dials all over the place, and, we particularly like the small, red lever that had to be raised - true fighter-jet style - to access the engine’s start/stop button.

It felt like we were travelling in a cockpit. As it turns out, it’s a shame we weren’t also armed. And we could have used an “Idiot Radar”, too, given the attack we were about to come under.

It was an otherwise calm early Melbourne afternoon and the Lambo was at a standstill at traffic lights on Flinders St. We lay low beside surrounding vehicles and there was no chance us seeing our assailant, becoming aware we were in his or her sites only after an egg exploded across our windscreen. Who does that?! The impact was so loud and dramatic that Lou and I practically hit the aluminium roof - red seatbelts and all. We have no idea where the projectile came from, though we suspect it originated from a balcony above us, given the force with which said-egg struck the car, coupled with direction of the resulting splat (see accompanying picture). Besides which, who walks the streets with eggs on their person? 

It’s almost a shame the car couldn’t react itself given it bears the name of the  Huracán fighting bull, a Spanish breed known for its outstanding courage and strong sense of attack. Our best defence was to photograph the scene of the crime and text it to Marco Denino, at Lamborghini Melbourne, with a, “So, this just happened” note. (I had more than the usual reason to be worried about the wellbeing of the car, which I’ll explain later.) 

I got a call back almost immediately and, to Denino’s great credit, the first words down the line were: “Are you alright?”. (Big, BIG Brownie points for that! Give that man a pay rise, Lamborghini.) I’m not sure he even asked about the car before suggesting I bring it straight over to his Richmond showroom for a hosing-off session. A very good idea given I’d confused the indicator for the windscreen wiper on the thumb-operated steering wheel controls and couldn’t see a great deal of anything in front of me, apart from which the egg run-off was starting to scramble against the engine bay. All of this was ugly.

Otherwise, there was nothing unattractive about the exterior of this car, as evidenced by the whip-lash-inducing reaction it got among mainly males we passed - tradesmen to besuited CBD men and school kids alike. Speaking of the latter, the egg incident made Lou and myself late picking up our boys after an excursion to the gold-rush museum of Sovereign Hill. The kids’ bus had already delivered them to the school as we attempted a drive-by to get Lou back to her SUV for a multiple-kid collection. We stopped briefly to explain our predicament to the teaching staff, attracting a swarm of children. Embarrassingly, my daughter’s Year-Five teacher from a couple of years ago thought it was hilarious we couldn’t immediately work out which of the myriad buttons in the cockpit opened the windows. I can confidently report, though, that you do these things once and you never forget them. Especially under pressure. The indicators, the windows, the windscreen wipers … sigh.

I took off at speed - solely for the kids’ entertainment - and probably could have hit the 100km/h mark in the 2.9 seconds the car’s said to be capable of. But I contained myself, and I certainly never attempted to wind it out to its maximum speed of 325km/h. Promise. Anyway, the car has nothing to prove. It already holds bragging rights at eight different circuits around the world.

'There was nothing unattractive about the exterior of this car, as evidenced by the whip-lash-inducing reaction it got among mainly males we passed.'

Speaking of not breaking the rules, though, the nine-page terms-and-conditions “loan” agreement I had to sign in order to road test the Huracán for Madam Wheels readers was the longest and most convoluted I’d ever seen. The insurance premium excess that was expected to be handed over “immediatamente!” in the event of an accident - at $20,000 - was also double any other cars I”d been in (hence why I was nervous about what might be coming at the Lambo after that egg).

Anyway, if there’s one thing you have to get across with this car it’s the lifting system. It’s a $5000 option in this car but is something it has to have if you really insist on using it around town. Unless you enjoy the sound of metal scraping against road, this will quickly becomes your best friend, raising the nose of the car 6cm to enable it to deal with the highs and lows of city driving. I tested it at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Centre, negotiating the steep driveway entry to the members’ car park and the various speed humps along the way without issue. The spectacular cherry-red paint job (Rosso Bia Glitter, a $27,500 option) was outstanding next to the assembled boys in their tennis whites.

Madam Wheels Verdict

Madam Wheels worthy? No. No way. Never, ever, ever ever for a woman. Yet I know at least one woman has bought this car in Melbourne. So I’m seeking her out to understand the allure and will report back.

Buy: Only if you thick skin - you’ll need it to deal with those who disapprove of your audacity. It might also pay to have an on-call washing service.

Avoid: If you prefer to keep a low profile. The only thing low-profile about this car is where it sits. Otherwise it’s all noise, and excitement.

Likes: The car’s exterior, particularly the Boeing-designed rear wing, the Italian detailing, including the use of the mother tongue in describing the essentials - water (Aqua), fuel (Benzina) and race mode (Corsa).

Dislikes: Scrambled eggs at 2pm, how loud it is at start-up. It attracts way too much attention. 

Bottom line: $A483,866 list price, Madam Wheels’ variant carried an additional $97,760 optional equipment. Add in the on-road costs of $50,954 and you’d be up for a grand total of $632,580.