A Social Distancing Country Drive in a Lamborghini Huracan EVO
One last rip, for (the love of) the road.
At the best of times, few things clear the mind like a long drive in a great car.
At the worst of times, clarity of mind becomes a greater gift than we could ever have believed.
With the world turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve got empty roads, fuel prices in a time warp, and nowhere in particular to go since everything is closed. Staying home as much as possible has become a necessity for just about everyone, save the heroes working on front lines in hospitals, food supply, city services, and auto shops. This is the most challenging time that the majority of us have ever known.
I’ve been doing my part and staying home as much as possible. But I had to go out this week. It was essential.
There was a Lamborghini Huracan EVO in my driveway, and I wasn’t allowed to keep it.
Like many of my Canadian auto reviewing colleagues, I’ve learned that this is the last vehicle I’ll be evaluating for a while. Most of the automakers who supply test vehicles to people like us writers here at Wheels.ca have temporarily grounded their fleets while we all wait this thing out. There will be plenty of reviews on these pages in the coming weeks, but they’ll be for cars that were driven before COVID-19 brought life as we know it to a grinding halt. This Huracan EVO is therefore my last hurrah until social distancing comes to an end and the world returns to some semblance of normal.
This is the closest I’ll ever come to winning the lottery. What a glorious reason to have no choice but to leave the house.
So, yes, I took a Lamborghini for a back-roads drive in the middle of a global crisis. Although I was more conservative than I’ve ever been at the wheel of a supercar, part of me still feels guilty for it. We’re not on full lockdown here in Ontario, so we’re still allowed to leave the house and go for a drive. But morally, a whole host of reasons exists for being extremely careful right now.
For example, damaging a $385,000 Lamborghini is ill-advised, to say the least, in a time of profound income uncertainty. Plus, it’s March, which means there are seasonal limitations like cold temperatures and winter tires and the predatory spring potholes that riddle our already speed-limiting roads. And then there’s that small matter of not wanting to add to the overwhelm in the healthcare system, the reason we’re all staying home in the first place. Far be it from me to be the one who ends up in a hospital, thanks to a frivolous country drive, and gets the roads shut down for everyone.
Never mind the fact that this car is one of the many treasures that Northern Italy has bestowed upon the world, a region where people are suffering profoundly from this pandemic. Is it crass to drive this car while Italians are losing so much? Or is it a message of appreciation and normalcy that they would be grateful to see? I’m not sure.
As a result of all of this, I was cautious to the point where I can’t speak to how well the 1,422 kg Huracan EVO performs when pushed to the 640 hp, 442 lb-ft limit of its 5.2-litre V10, longitudinally mid-rear-mounted in the Lamborghini tradition. I also can’t tell you how it handles on anything resembling a racing surface, when the most is demanded from its 2.22 kg/hp power-to-weight ratio or its 43 percent front, 57 percent rear weight distribution.
What I can highlight is how easy it is to develop a relationship with this car from the moment you lower yourself into the contoured driver’s seat. Immediately upon start-up, the engine decisively announces its intention. The journey begins in the relative comfort of Strada mode with its moderated throttle response and surprising ability to manage snow-ravaged pavement, aided by the self-lowering suspension that triggers at 70 km/h and lifts again at the flick of a switch. Opting for Sport or Corsa mode unleashes the beast and enables manual mode by default, and the paddle shifters sift through the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission so quickly it’s as though they’re reading your mind. The steering is startlingly sharp and yet somehow also responsive to perfection.
Within even a short stretch of curves, this car bestows the gift of immersing oneself, if only for a moment, in little more than the immediacy of the senses and the present moment. Throttle. Brake, downshift, downshift. Turn in. Apex. Throttle. Repeat.
It’s all so sumptuous and thoroughly engaging that it won’t even occur to you that you can’t touch your face.
We’re not supposed to drive with destinations in mind right now, but I snuck one in. Wheels contributor Gary Grant has another gig: he’s a barbecue wizard, turning pork shoulder and beef brisket into smoky works of culinary art at The Garage Café in Toronto’s eastern suburbs. I had just enough room in the front cargo hold for a small cooler and a sling backpack – and not an inch more – but that was enough for a contactless pick-up of some of Gary’s creations to get through the next couple of weeks. We can’t hug our friends right now, but we can do our best to support their small businesses so that we can keep visiting them on the other side of this crisis.
Driving without my daughter isn’t an option right now – schools are closed, and dropping her off with friends defeats the purpose of social distancing – and so I’m grateful that this car has a weight detector that disables the passenger airbags if a child is onboard so that I could bring her along. Like the rest of us, she’s feeling shut in and is missing her friends, and she finds letting fresh air whip at her hair through the Lambo’s open side windows as freeing as any of us would.
“Maybe seeing this car will give someone joy,” she says as she waves at a smiling passer-by.
We can only hope. Cars like this one are precisely what we need to remind us of the parts of life we’re staying home to protect. And while our world may never be entirely the same again, those fundamental human desires will remain: a breath of the wind, a hit of adrenaline, and that beautiful melding of earth and man and spectacular machine.
Here’s to one last rip for the road, and everything it means to us. Thank heaven these wonderful cars will be waiting when we’re ready to come back.