Lamborghini Huracan STO 2021 Drive Review : ICE ICE Baby [COTY2021]
Singapore - After a hastily gulped breath of air, I’m forced to recalibrate my senses as I exit the first corner in the Lamborghini Huracan STO in its vivid green Verde Aries.
It’s hard to think of another road-legal sportscar capable of such rock and raunchy levels of grip, braking prowess, acceleration and of course, a thrilling nat-asp soundtrack as the V10 is flogged to its red-line.
If you’re wondering, ‘STO’ stands for Super Trofeo Omologata, but more importantly, this is Lamborghini’s first-ever motorsports homologation special (for the road) – this means the road-legal super-sportscar is directly descended from the brand’s Super Trofeo EVO and GT3 EVO race-cars.
We don’t blame you for being confused, what with the Performante and the EVO versions of the Huracan, as well as the Superleggera and the Super Trofeo Stradale from the era of the Gallardo. Well, none of these were homologation models, just tweaked and tarted-up versions of regular cars.
Driving enthusiasts will know there’s a big difference between a road-car that can be driven on-track versus a track-car that can be driven on-road and the STO is deeply entrenched in the latter camp.
Unfortunately, too many people mistake the STO for just another one of the many mid-life ‘limited editions’ that brands launch to re-energise the line-up – a huge pity seeing as it’s so much more than that and it’s one of those cars you need to get in and drive – and we mean drive hard! – to be able to appreciate fully.
Such motorsports homologation models are a petrolhead’s dream and aren’t just about on-paper performance.
The buyer has to appreciate the uncompromising and OCD commitment that goes into engineering these purpose-built beasts to be hard-edged and ready for racing – many times at the most gruelling levels of endurance motorsports.
So yes, while the STO might look like a Huracan (albeit with aggro aero, a humongous wing and fancy livery) visually, it is a completely re-engineered beast that has been enhanced to be lighter, faster, harder, tighter and simply better than the regular models.
In fact, the main differences between race and road car are the street-legal tyres (versus racing slicks) and a suspension system with a higher ride-height.
Such motorsports homologation specials are a rare enough breed these days, but we’ve managed to score two in our 2021 Cars of the Year – the STO and the Toyota GR Yaris.
Even stationary, the STO is plenty dramatic and we’ve not even gotten to the singing and dancing part yet. Unlike most mid/rear-engined sportscars, the STO doesn’t have a ‘frunk’.
Instead, unique to the car is the one-piece carbonfibre ‘confango’ – a portmanteau of cofano (bonnet) and parafango (bumper).
Wings, bumper and bonnet are blended into a single lightweight piece that saves weight, as well as improves air-flow for both aero and the engine.
On the scales, the STO weighs in at 1339kg, some 43kg less than the Performante. Part of the weight-loss comes from the use of carbonfibre in more than 75 per cent of its exterior panels.
Even the windscreen is 20 per cent lighter than the Performante’s and there’s also an even lighter, cost-optional magnesium rim for the STO.
The defiantly nat-asp V10 is force-fed air by a roof-mounted air-scoop and the rear wing is adjustable to achieve different aero effects, spanning maximum attack to maximum drag.
Everything about the STO is there to complement the driver who really wants to take big bites out of the meat of real driving.
The rather puerile 0-100km/h yardstick for fast cars seems to keep the superficial ‘enthusiasts’ engaged, but we’d rather have our sweet spots rubbed the right way with the yardstick for fun cars – the gs they pull.
The STO isn’t the sort of car you can just stomp-and-spurt around in ‘effortlessly’. This is great news for those of us who still enjoy working hard for our driving thrills, because there aren’t many cars like the STO these days (much less ones that are nat-asp) that require commitment, concentration and introspection to drive hard.
Today's drivers are spoiled by the instant shove delivered by the modern turbo’s quick-responding, low-lag trait – much like the quick hit we’re experiencing with electric vehicles.
Many modern cars are sold as ‘effortless’ to drive. As more cars go down the turbocharging route, the STO with that glorious nat-asp V10 at its heart is proving to be a real diamond in the rough.
In fact, working a screaming nat-asp engine like the V10 in the STO to the bone with your deliberate ministrations is one of life’s exquisite pleasures.
Even better if the chassis is progressively balanced (as is the STO's) to allow the committed driver to take it to the limits of the traction circle and beyond.
Some cars communicate quietly, others are a little more insistent, but the STO is loquacious and certainly not afraid to shout, shout, let it all out.
The quality and texture of the communication between its rear-drive, rear-steer chassis to steering wheel and seat-of-pants is intricate and peppered with minutiae. And we’re just talking about the chassis here.
Wrung to redline, the STO’s operatic V10 soundtrack is lushly multi-layered and rich with nuances that completes the ensemble for Lamborghini’s charismatic driver’s machine.
The cabin is properly focused, with no frippery to distract one from the joy of hard driving.
From sports seats to steering wheel and pedals to gear paddles, the driver’s touch points are tactile with ample feel and weight to give you a sense of control.
On the move, you’re bombarded by information on all fronts that keep you in a loop of constant communication. The STO’s sweet balance and on-limit cornering ability are best savoured within the confines of a closed circuit, which is exactly where we enjoyed its earthly delights.
Beyond steering and acceleration, every touch-point of a driver’s car needs to be properly weighted and inspire confidence so you won’t have any qualms taking it to its limits and the STO doesn't disappoint.
The brakes are stupendous beyond belief and provide ample feel for millimetre perfect modulation. There’s the confidence to brake late and deep into the corners, which are then dispatched with ruthless efficiency by the STO.
There’s no vagueness or uncertainty to the STO’s responses, just a killer instinct and deep, yearning hunger for more corners.
It’ll obligingly aid and abet you in the savaging of corners as your partner-in-crime, but you shouldn’t take liberties with it and accord Lamborghini’s most hardcore Huracan due respect.
The STO may arrive late in the Huracan’s life-cycle, but we say it is better late than never, especially since this motorsports homologation special has come Straight Outta Compt’n…
PHOTOS Zotiq Visuals
Lamborghini Huracan STO
Engine 5204cc, V10, nat-asp
Transmission 7spd LDF dual-clutch
Top Speed 310km/h
Fuel Consumption 13.9l/100km