2021 Lamborghini Huracán STO ReviewOctober 4, 2021
The large track at Willow Springs International Raceway, dubbed “Big Willow,” is a terrifying sight. The lack of paved runoffs or gravel traps, the sharp drops off the edge of the pavement, and the high speeds you achieve mean you don’t want to leave the surface for any reason because it rarely ends well. Even when your line is perfect, most street cars feel shaky through at least half of the nine corners. The 2021 Lamborghini Huracán STO is not your typical streetcar. Instead, it’s a real race car for the street. Lamborghini Huracab STO is and will remain to be a classic car.
“Racecar for the road” is an abhorrently overused and rarely accurate term. Most streetcars are nothing like actual race cars, neither driving style nor performance. Even when a streetcar is converted into a racing machine, say for international GT-class competition, the track modifications are primarily in one direction. The acronym, however, means more than just marketing for the Huracán STO. STO stands for “Super Trofeo Omologata,” and “omologata” means “homologated” in Italian.
The most famous homologated cars are the rarest streetcars built solely to satisfy a racing series rule requiring entrants to be based on a model that regular people can buy. Typically, only a few hundred are created, each one wildly impractical for street use and barely road legal. So instead, the Huracán STO took a more circuitous route, starting with a street-legal Huracán Evo and then modified for Lamborghini’s one-make Super Trofeo racing series and the international GT3 endurance racing class. Then, to create the STO, Lamborghini transferred as many of those racing modifications back to the Huracán Evo as possible.
Getting on the Track- The 2021 Lamborghini Huracán STO
As a result, the STO does not circle Big Willow like a streetcar. It’s evident from the very first corner. With 630 horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque, you’ll hit nearly 160 mph on the front straight before braking for 90-degree Turn 1, which is an 80-mph sweeper if done correctly. It’s always exciting to cut your speed in half on a bumpy track (and Big Willow is very rough), especially when the runoff is a launch ramp up the dirt hill toward Turn 3. Under maximum braking, the STO dances around a bit, but it never feels like it’s trying to get away from you. Just keep you on your toes.
Not that you aren’t on them already. Pushing the braking point into Turn 1 is always exciting, and you must remember to pull two downshifts because, just like in a real race car, the gear changes are entirely up to you.
Turn 2 in most street cars requires a stab of braking to remove some of the speed gained on the short straight, but the STO requires only a brush of the pedal to put the weight on the nose. With enough practice, you might be able to get away with just lifting.
2021 Lamborghini Huracán STO Feel on Drivers Seat
The exit of Turn 2 is slightly off-camber, so if you hit the throttle immediately after a late apex, you’ll inevitably push wide to the left side of the track. It can feel wooly in a car with less grip. Still, despite how much the track-oriented suspension bounces you around in the driver’s seat (even with the four-point belts tight). The car feels perfectly stable and confident, staying hard in the throttle and riding it out so you can go wide open before the Turn 3 braking zone.
Another spot where you have to scrub a lot of speed, but you can push the braking point with the proper care. It’s far closer to the uphill left-hander in the STO than in any other street-able car. When you do whip it into the turn, too much trail braking or returning to the throttle too soon can result in lap-time-ruining oversteer. Even if this occurs, the STO is so predictable that it is not frightening. Bridgestone Potenza is a custom-built tire. Race rubber breaks away beautifully at the limit, allowing you to experiment with rear grip in ways that high-powered, rear-drive cars like this don’t always allow.
2021 Lamborghini Huracán STO Tonic for Electronics
The STO also allows you to cheat a little bit. Its driving modes have been renamed STO, Trofeo, and Pioggia, with the first serving as a street mode, the second as a track mode, and the third as a wet mode. Each has its stability control settings; Trofeo’s is quite liberal. It will catch the slide after a certain amount of rotation and prevent you from looping the car, but it will not make any effort to straighten things out for you. With this knowledge, you can get away with careless driving by riding out the slide on the ESC and not losing too much time.
Of course, you could disable ESC, maybe if Randy Pobst was here setting a fast lap. However, there’s no need for a professional amateur, such as an automotive journalist, to try to be a hero, not at the risk of being the person who writes off the $327,838 car (before options).
You can also rely on the electronics as you exit Turn 4, where the track goes slightly off-camber just past the apex of the tight right-hander, and it’s easy to unload the rear end as you try to get back on the throttle for the run down the hill to Turn 5. If you do it correctly, you should be able to push to the left side of the track in a nice little drift while pointing the car toward the next corner.
Turn 5 is even more off-camber, and like Turn 3, a little too much trail-braking will send a car sideways. In any case, another vehicle. The Bridgestones on the STO is too grippy for that, which is a good thing because it makes setting up for the jump in Turn 6 easier.
2021 Lamborghini Huracán STO turn 7 8 9
Turn 6 is the track’s second-sketchiest corner because the apex is at the crest of a hill, the camber falls away on the exit, and you have to carry a lot of speed to set yourself up for turns 7 8, especially. The further right you can go, the less unloaded the suspension will become, but in high-power cars lacking racecar levels of downforce, you almost catch air. The STO softens the impact of the jump. The vehicle receives a small amount of light, but that is all. Most cars give you the impression that you’re about to jump sideways off the track; this one simply four-wheel drifts to the left side of the road. Going flat over this crest is a risk, but with enough practice, experience, and confidence, you might be able to pull it off.
(Turn 7 is a slight bend that hardly counts as a corner.) Every car should go all out. Now, let’s move on.)
Turn 8 is a more difficult corner than it appears. For starters, it’s swift and has zero camber, and there’s no time to straighten the wheel at the exit to brake for the treacherous Turn 9. A good amateur driver would struggle to hit 120 mph at the turn-in, but the STO was content with nearly 130. As with Turn 2, there is no need to break for Turn 8. Instead, brush the pedal to transfer weight so the nose sticks firmly. The corner is a slog all the way through, but the Bridgestones don’t give up, and the MagneRide 2.0 magnetorheological dampers keep them in complete contact with the less-than-ideal pavement.
Turn 9 is a beast. You have to break from high speed with steering in the wheel. As a result, the apex is much later than it appears. Additionally, there’s an enormous hole on the inside of the track right at the peak—and it swings from on-camber to slightly off-camber on the way out. Carry any significant speed, and you’ll run directly to the edge of the pavement as you exit onto the front straight, and nine is critical if you want to see good speed down the straight.
Like Turn 8, most cars require you to scrub some speed before diving in, but the STO only requires a slight weight transfer. Again, if you do enough laps, you might be able to do it solely by lifting. Slingshotting out to the track’s edge, the STO is confident enough to use every scrap of asphalt and put your foot down for the long front straight.
2021 Lamborghini Huracán STO Aerodynamics
Again, we can’t emphasize how unusual this is for factory-built, street-legal cars in the hands of skilled, nonprofessional drivers on this track. Driving like this in any other vehicle straight off the dealer lot would beg to join the ranks of the infamous Big Willow crash videos on YouTube. Instead, every lap in the STO is a personal best, partly because you’re getting faster as you learn the car and partly because no other vehicle you can buy new in Beverly Hills two hours away can do this on the same day.
Aerodynamics deserves a lot of credit. Lamborghini tested every limit of crash regulations to make air bend around the STO as it does around the Super Trofeo and the related GT3 Evo racer. We used the manually adjustable three-position rear wing in its highest downforce setting for this event, putting 926 pounds on the back end. (With the low drag setting, it can support 714 pounds.) We’re skeptical of downforce claims on streetcars in general, but this one feels genuine as if it’s making good use of all that weight.
Seamless Steering System
The programming of the MagneRide adaptive dampers, seamless rear steering system, and the removal of 95 pounds all help. The tighter, fixed-ratio front axle steering, as well as the linear response of the Brembo CCM-R carbon-ceramic brakes, have only gotten better. Taking a cue from Porsche, Lamborghini has made all driver inputs—steering, throttle, and braking—as similar in weight and response as possible, making the car a joy to drive fast. Meanwhile, the brake pad, brake fluid, and tire temperature monitoring systems provide profound peace of mind when hot-lapping on a hot day.
The remaining credit goes to the tires. Bridgestone Potenzas were superstars twenty years ago, but the company shifted away from racing and sports car applications. What a way to return. Big Willow’s asphalt is incredibly coarse compared to most tracks, and it eats through most high-performance tires in a matter of laps. Only the best of the best street tires make it through the day. They were barely worn out after a full day of journalists pounding on them. Even so, they constantly broke away slowly and predictably.
2021 Lamborghini Huracán STO Tires
The rest of the credit goes to the tires. Bridgestone Potenzas were superstars twenty years ago, but the company moved away from racing and sports car applications. What a way to make a comeback. Big Willow’s asphalt is obscenely coarse compared to most tracks, and it eats through most performance tires in a matter of laps. Only the best street tires survive a day. These survived a full day of journalists pounding on them and looked barely worn out. Even so, they broke away slowly and predictably every time, allowing us to drive right on edge without fear.
Also Read: Top 10 Tires for Collector Cars
With all of this, you don’t have to scoff when someone refers to the Huracán STO as a road racer. That was the whole point. Lamborghini did not need to homologate an actual racer to gain a competitive advantage in GT3 racing (where it has already won Daytona three times in a row and Sebring twice). Instead, the company allowed owners to drive a race car without buying one or buying their way onto a team. As a result, it’s the ultimate High-Performance Driving Experience track day weapon, complete with a built-in telemetry system that allows you to review traces on your phone and share them with your friends.
Previously, automakers would put turn signals and lights on a race car, put it on the street, and call it homologated. That is not possible with modern automobiles. They must have airbags and a slew of other regulations-compliant features. While some automakers (including Lamborghini) are happy to sell you special editions that you can’t register for road use, this is the closest thing to a true homologation special in the modern era, and it’s glorious.