WEEKLY CAR DIARY – LAMBORGHINI HURACAN (AND A BENTLEY OR TWO)

Another vindaloo week. The main event was a golf day held by Bentley Leicester at Woodhall Spa Golf Club in Lincolnshire to which four of us took three Bentleys and a Lamborghini, having collected them the evening before:-

Monday: Audi A6 S-Line Quattro 2.0TDi Ultra, Leicester to Cirencester, Gloucestershire; Bentley Continental GTC (convertible) V8S & Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4 LDF, Syston, Leicestershire to Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire

Tuesday: Bentley Continental GTC V8S, Melton Mowbray to Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire; Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4 LDF, Woodhall Spa to Melton Mowbray.

Wednesday: Bentley Continental GT Speed W12 (633hp), Melton Mowbray to Syston; X-wing fighter, Ashby-de-la-Zouch,  Leicestershire to Leicester.

Thursday: X-wing fighter, Leicester to Taunton, Somerset; Volkswagen Transporter (2012), Taunton to Exeter

Friday: Ford Transit Custom, Ashby-de-la-Zouch to Stockton-on-Tees.

So, let’s talk a bit more about the worthy Ford Transit Connect/X-wing fighter. Let’s cut to the chase – what was the Lamborghini Huracan like to drive? Well, before you can drive it, you have to work out where a few things are and how they work. I jump into a lot of cars for the first time and, apart from the occasional quirk, most things are where you expect them to be. Even in something exotic like a Bentley, the essential controls are fairly conventional once you have looked past all the wood and shiny stuff. Not so, with the Lamborghini (into which you have to lower yourself rather than jump). There are, for example, no indicator or windscreen wiper stalks. Instead, there are little switches on the steering wheel – like the indicators on a motorbike. Then there is the centre console where you would normally expect a gear selector and the letters P – R – N – D to be.  Again, not so with the Huracan. There’s no selector at all, just two buttons “P” and “M” and a funny little bridge affair over these buttons marked “R”. Incidentally, this centre console is made out of left over bits from a F-117 stealth fighter, all matt black geometric shapes at obtuse angles to each other (I assume the whole car is invisible to radar but the glaringly bright metallic yellow paint on this Huracan wouldn’t escape the Mk 1 eyeball too readily). Then there’s what is obviously a nuclear button because it is covered by a bright red, flip up guard. This guard prevents you from accidentally nuking North Korea before Donald Trump gives the nod. Actually, its the engine start button – Lamborghini owners must be prone to absent-mindedly starting their car’s engine so the Lambo engineers have thoughtfully put the guard there. Of course, this is all part of the drama and making you feel as if you are in some futuristic piece of military hardware or space craft.

Huracan Pop Art
The futuristic Huracan. A proper supercar shape – as would be drawn by boys (big and small) the world over.

 

Huracan interior
The stealth-like cockpit complete with red guard for the nuclear button

Once you are settled in to the snug racing seat and had a nose around the cockpit, you can adjust things to your liking. First the wing mirrors which sit atop long stalks so you can see past the car’s wide haunches but these haunches still feature prominently in the rearward view. Then the central rear view mirror which peers through a very small slit of a rear windscreen. Now you are ready to go.

Foot on brake pedal, flip up the red guard on the nuclear button and fire. BOOM! Lots of noise from the mid-mounted engine to ensure that everyone within a two mile radius knows that North Korea is about to become toast. Once the engine has settled down to a loud and impatient-sounding idle, you simply pull the right hand flappy paddle behind the steering wheel and a large “1” and an “A” appear on the digital instrument panel in front of you. You’re in first gear and automatic mode so flip off the electronic parking brake, squeeze the loud pedal and you’re off….. Except, there may be another hurdle to overcome. Speed bumps. With its low slung shape and even lower front spoiler, the Huracan would be as useless as a Dalek at conquering sleeping policemen (let alone the universe) but the Huracan has an ace up its sleeve. Press and hold a button on the dashboard and the front end raises slowly like an old-fashioned Citroen. Ease gently over the bump, press and hold the button to reverse the process and you are away while the Dalek is left behind the speed bump waiving its little balloon whisk arm and sink plunger in frustration (you often see Daleks in Woodhall Spa as they go there for a bit of pampering – “ex – fo – li – ate, ex – fo – li – ate!”). You can’t even hear the Dalek’s manic, metallic, machine-like protestations because the Huracan’s V10, 5.2 litre 610hp engine is wailing gloriously behind your head as you accelerate in the blink of an eye up to the legal limit (0 – 60mph in 3.2 seconds if you were to give it the full beans).

Huracan 2
At Woodhall Spa Golf Club

 

 

Bentleys at WSGC
The three Bentleys we also took to Woodhall Spa. Our chase driver said the four cars made an impressive convoy.

I drove the Huracan a couple of times, the main journey being the 55 miles (on a good mix of roads) from Woodhall Spa to a village near Melton Mowbray where the four cars where going to spend the night before being returned to Bentley Leicester the next morning. The roads coming out of Woodhall Spa were not really the Huracan’s natural environment. On these narrow and bumpy roads, the car’s wide tyres would follow the lumpy contours so you had to focus on keeping it on line. And with suspension made from only the best granite and with ultra-low profile tyres, you felt all of those lumps and bumps. However, this was more than bearable and the body hugging seat was extremely comfortable. Immediately noticeable at the first corner was the very quick steering – not much rotation required on the tiller to get the Huracan round a bend.

The Huracan soon came into its own on smoother roads. For most of the journey I left it in automatic but I did override this when I felt like it, simply by flipping either of the flappy paddles – right for up, left to downshift. Approaching corners, I would change down manually with each quick downshift accompanied by a short rise in engine note as if the throttle had been blipped. Each downshift also brought a little forward shove in the back before the engine helped slow the car down. You could then flow into the corner, enjoying that quick steering and sharp turn-in as the Huracan changed direction as if on rails (with that granite suspension, “body roll” is not in the Huracan’s vocabulary). Four wheel drive and fat tyres would no doubt give a massive amount of grip – way more than I needed since my job was the get the Huracan from A to B in one piece. The knowledge that that grip was there if needed was reassuring since it did rain for the middle part of the trip.

After enjoying the single carriageway roads, I eventually got onto the A46 dual carriageway. With such a low seating position and a rush of road noise, the impression of speed was much greater than in a “normal” car at 70 (and a bit….) mph and like the rest of the journey it felt much more of an event. Finally, there were a few more miles of twisty, country lanes (on full manual after pressing the “M” button on the centre console) before pulling back that curious little bridge thing marked “R” to reverse the flying banana into store for the night.

That was fun.

Colin

 

 

 

TO MIDDLE EARTH AND BACK IN A BENTLEY MULSANNE (AND AN AUDI A6 ALLROAD BITURBO): PART 1

“Get to Bentley’s for about 10, there’s a Mulsanne demonstrator to deliver to somewhere near Evesham between two and two thirty.” Over four hours to do just sixty miles or so from the East Midlands to Worcestershire?? Since this was going to be an executive sort of day, I sort of made an executive decision and went along to Leicester’s Bentley (and Lamborghini) dealer at about 10.30. This was early last October but weather-wise it was still summer. I had not driven a current Bentley before, so I asked the salesman to give me a quick tour round the black Mulsanne which sat gleaming in the sunshine. Funnily enough, things like the sat nav and Bluefang worked much like any other car. It’s just that the setting was different. Acres of black, diamond-stitched leather, swathes of dark wood veneer and highly polished chrome detailing.

 mulsanne1a

But this was not your common-or-garden, ten-a-penny Bentley Mulsanne. Oh no. [Warning: techy bit coming up.] Not content with catapulting the 2.7 ton, 5.6 metre mobile gentlemen’s club to 60mph in a sedate 5.1 seconds, Bentley added a few horses to the 6.75 litre twin turbo V8. The resulting Mulsanne Speed gets to 60mph in a snappier 4.8 seconds and on to a 190mph maximum. Descending to the mundane and putting my sensible hat on, I was surprised at how modestly sized the boot was for such a big car. That explains why you don’t see many quarter of a million pound Mulsannes at the local tip, disposing of garden refuse and old mattresses. I knew there was a good reason.

The salesman reiterated that the car was not to be delivered before 2pm. So I used the dealership’s facilities at least twice – a) to kill a bit of time and b) to have a nose at the Lamborghini’s at the far end of the showroom. Then I was staring down the Mulsanne’s long bonnet at the winged Bentley “B” as it nosed its way at walking pace out of the dealership. Well, there was simply no point in hurrying. Having already set the sat nav to somewhere near Evesham, it appeared that I had more than two and a half hours to do a journey that should take just over an hour. I was soon on to the A46 and then the motorway, so I set the cruise control at 65mph instead of the usual 70. Isn’t it ironic – I was in the fastest car I had ever driven on the road and ended up driving even more slowly than normal as I pondered what to do to kill more time.

Putting my pondering to one side, I had toyed with the idea of inventing a new verb to describe driving the Bentley: “to serene”. As in: “I serened here, I serened there, I serened to somewhere near Evesham”. It could also be used transitively: “the Mulsanne serened me to somewhere near Evesham.” But then I remembered how much I detest it when athletes say “to medal”. So, dear reader, to allow me to stick to my principles, please erase this paragraph from your memory.

 mulsanne-10

Of course the Mulsanne was whisper quiet. The only time it bared its teeth was on the motorway when the adaptive cruise control automatically slowed us down as we approached a vehicle up ahead. I then pulled out and let the cruise control accelerate at its own chosen rate back to the pre-set speed of 70mph (yes, I had given up with 65mph – it just felt too slow!). The Bentley’s chosen rate of acceleration was rather brisk and it was accompanied by a wonderful growl from the V8. (I put that bit in to keep petrol heads happy but actually it did sound good!)

I soon fell off the end of the motorway on to A roads. Initially straight ones, then more countrified, bendy ones. The Bentley purred along in a supremely relaxing way and I had only the vaguest awareness of its weight when negotiating the bends. So relaxing was it, that I couldn’t imagine why anyone would actually want to exploit that savage performance. It would seem a bit vulgar to tear along like a lunatic in such a stately conveyance. I guess Bentley owners just like to know that the performance is there if they need it.

By this time, the sat nav was telling me that I was quite near to somewhere near Evesham. My earlier pondering about what to do had initially been at the back of my mind. Now it had shot firmly to the forefront of my brain (I think this happened when I braked sharply due to a very low flying pigeon). Where could I while away an hour or so? Where could I park the pristine Mulsanne safely, free from the threat of other car doors and supermarket trolleys? Where could I eat my sandwiches? Where could I avail myself of some convenient facilities? Will I find be able to find somewhere near Evesham? Will I be able to resist the temptation to turn unsuspecting adjectives into verbs? Why on earth is this post called “Middle Earth and Back ….” etc?

All these questions and more will be answered in Part 2 of “Middle Earth and Back in a Bentley Mulsanne (and an Audi A6 Allroad BiTurbo)”. Watch this space – around the middle of next week.

Colin