Lamborghini ALA on the Huracan Performante
Before we dive into the technical explanation of the Lamborghini ALA. I have to get something off my chest – this being my first automotive article. Ever.
A few years ago, I asked a motoring Editor if I could experiment with automotive journalism. I offered to practice on my trusty Hyundai Veloster and any friend’s cars I could wiggle my right foot in.
I figured I could do a fairly decent job. After all, I have been a tech journalist for several years (practice: check), and I’m obsessed with automobiles and motorcycles (passion: check).
Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance, since breaking into motoring journalism isn’t easy. Your peers are amazing journalists with decades of experience under their bulging belts – compared to them, you’ll always be that 10-year-old nutter who gave himself a headache out of excitement when he saw a Chrysler 300M for the first time.
*The 300M backstory may or may not be true.
But they all started somewhere yeah? Back in black-and-white times, driving a simple hatchback for a local paper in a sleepy town.
Luckily for me, my maiden foray into automotive journalism, features a psychotic supercar, an amazing magazine and a hyperactive city.
I assumed a Japanese, Korean or even a German brand would be the first to trust me behind the wheel of one of their creations. I never thought it would be the Italian powerhouse that is Lamborghini.
I don’t think I will ever forget the Huracán Performante, being delivered: gently lowered off the flatbed truck. Pride. Joy.
Perhaps this is how fathers feel watching their first born being spawned?
Yep, the Performante is a hyped up Huracán. And the Huracán itself is the reincarnation of every millennial’s childhood sweetheart, the Gallardo.
Gather around for a history lesson kids: Production of the Gallardo ran from 2003 for a decade, with the Huracán replacing the icon from 2014. Besides the coupes and spyders, the Huracán’s special editions include the Polizia for the Italian State Police, the Avio inspired by Italian fighter jets and the Huracán LP 580-2 Pope Francis for, well, Pope Francis.
In 2017, the Performante rolled out of the Lambo stables. The track-ready, nipped-and-tucked Huracán sports different bumpers, a new speedometer setup, and has dropped 40kgs thanks to Lamborghini going overboard with the extensive use of forged aluminium and carbon fibre throughout the car.
Let me walk you guys through what exactly happens when you drive the Performante in Dubai for the first time.
Follow me on this.
You unlock it, shimmy and plop in like a steamed dumpling. After familiarising yourself with the entire process of starting it up, which includes raising the front lip by a few centimetres, you’re ready to roll.
But not just yet.
The pressure of literally everyone within a 500-meter radius staring at you doesn’t help at all. You slowly pull out, check your mirrors, check your blind spot, get confused, start to panic since the entire car is one big blind spot, question why you’re even doing this, wonder if people are still staring?
Yes they are, OMG.
The indicator is a small toggle switch on your steering wheel, switching between manual and automatic is a button on the centre console, the reverse gear is another very similar button, neutral is pulling both the paddle shifters towards you, and to move forward you pull the right paddle.
Fine, you’re finally moving. The people stop staring and get on with their lives. It’s just you encased in forged aluminium and carbon fibre. The beast of a V10 engine, conveniently placed behind your right shoulder, is capable of catapulting the car (and you in it) to speeds up to 325 kmh.
At first glance, the car looks intimidating. The entire process to get it going takes some re-learning of traditional automobile setups. But two minutes in the car and you would feel like you’ve been driving these road-legal space rockets all your life. The car is familiar, safe, and quite reassuring.
While there are several reviews of this car, from much more adequate individuals than myself, I’ll spare you the long-winded spiel.
I’ll play to my strengths. And those include a fearless, borderline careless attitude to speed and corners, and my low latent inhibition especially when it comes to technology. The tech presented itself to me in the form of the Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva (Lamborghini ALA) system, and the corners were 1 hour and 38 minutes out of the city.
More on the Lamborghini ALA system in a bit…
City speed limits did they’re job by limiting me to the Strada mode. One of three drive modes to choose from. The other two being Sport and Corsa.
Think of Strada being the girl/boy next door;
Sport being the wild yet refined eye candy on your arm;
and Corsa the psychotic ex-wife/hubby.
After getting out of the city to safe open roads, I toggled Sport mode. The speedometer changed with semi-demonic yellow highlights and the Performante began to growl in a lower tone. The car gets a lot more nimble, and, you guessed it, a lot faster. But that was just Sport, there’s one more mode to choose from.
If there were ever a term for a reverse-exorcism, Lamborghini found it, and it’s called Corsa.
The speedometer changes to a demonic red and the car’s growl make your hair stand in places you never imagined hair could stand.
We’ve all been there, either on a track day, or on a sweeping exit off a highway: you barrel towards the beginning of the turn, tap your breaks to check your speed before you enter, and keep pressing down on your accelerator as you slice through the corner like a watermelon in Fruit Ninja.
In a corner, your speed is directly proportional to how loud your tires screech, begging for mercy as they try to maintain traction before they either let the car drift out or lose control.
We’ve all been there. And for those who haven’t, try it…it’s fun!
The Performante on the other hand refuses to abide by the “>speed>screech” formula mainly because the brain in the car, the Lamborghini’s Piattaforma Inerziale (LPI) that controls the car’s electronics, has been introduced to the Lamborghini ALA system. Together they are much smarter than the driver.
While several cars have on-board performance management systems. TheLamborghini ALA is much, much more.
The acronym doubles up as the word ‘Ala’, the Italian word for wing.
The technology is built into the very body of the car, the chassis, the engine, everything. The Lamborghini ALA can think for you. Take a deep breath and dive in to the following; I’ll try to keep it as simple as I possibly can.
The Lamborghini ALA system automatically tweaks the car’s down force or drag depending on speed, driving conditions and other factors. The system doesn’t just operate based on the inner workings and technical aspects of the car; it also nudges moving parts within the front and rear spoilers. The ALA flaps can get automatically activated in less than 500 milliseconds.
If the vents inside the front spoiler are closed, there is an increased down force exerted on the car that obviously helps the Performante stick to the ground when cornering. If you choose to speed up on a straight, then the Lamborghini ALA kicks in, the flaps open and airflow is directed within through a ‘specifically-shaped’ underside of the car. This results in minimum drag since the ALA literally ushers airflow right through the very body of the car.
If you think that’s cool, wait till I start on its rear. It’s a lot more fun at the back.
There are four ducts below the rear bonnet; two standards for exhaust ventilation and two for crazy-awesome ALA fun. Electro-actuated flaps manage the airflow channels through these ducts. Similar to the front, the vents, or flaps, are closed, which effectively makes the spoiler a standard fixed wing that helps in stability and down force. Oh what’s that? An open road? Push down on the accelerator and the ALA kicks in, opening the flaps and ushering airflow through the ridges below the wing.
If you’re still following, I haven’t even got to the coolest part yet.
Lamborghini and physics geeks call the phenomenon aero-vectoring. Since airflow management on the both sides of the rear wing can be individually controlled.
So if you’re throwing the car headfirst into a right corner, the Lamborghini ALA kicks in on the left side of the spoiler, increasing down force on that side of the car, which improves traction on the inner wheel, keeping your car stable through the turn.
For those who lost me right at the beginning of this section, here’s a video that explains it. You guys have horrible attention spans I must say…
I trust you now understand that the Performante is not just a pretty car to look at. The science and tech crammed into every single centimetre of the car is something of wonder. The Performante is a car that deserves to be understood and respected.
It is beauty, a bit a beast, and (lots of) brains.
The car is quite a rare sight on Dubai roads, even at Supercar Majlis Rallies, you would spot one or two. You can differentiate between the two thanks to the massive park bench Lamborghini calls a spoiler that’s found on the Performante.
The Performante also has just two large exhausts popping out from the middle of the rear panel. The Huracán has four, lower and closer to the tires.
Lastly, if you’re still unsure what you’re drooling over is a Performante, peep at the engine. The bronze engine manifold castings will confirm that this indeed is the Performante.
And on that note, congrats, you have made it to the end of my maiden attempt.
Surely, it’s no 80’s hatchback for a local paper in a sleep town. I got lucky, starting with the Lamborghini Huracán Performante, for EDGAR in the hyperactive city that is Dubai.
Not a bad start.
Next I took the new Bentley Continental GT out for a spin in Jebal Al Jais. 🙂
*The 300M backstory is true.