A quarter century or so ago, I was a judge in Automobile Quarterly’s second design contest. One category was to create a new Lamborghini Countach. Lamborghini styling back then was all about audacity, with total rupture in cues, lines, and volumes between one model and the next, yet with a relatively constant combination of aerodynamics and beauty. I expected to see something totally different in the contest submissions. Instead, almost all the entries were graceless face-lifts. The first Lamborghinis were pastiches of then-current Italian practice, their Franco Scaglione–designed bodies interesting but less appealing than Pininfarina’s contemporary Ferrari work. Once Bertone took over the styling from Carrozzeria Touring, chief designer Marcello Gandini did highly original designs for each succeeding Lamborghini. Just think of the Miura, Espada, Urraco, and Countach, each different in mechanical layout and overall styling.
With each successive owner of Lamborghini, things became chaotic, with more attention paid to being shocking than to being beautiful. That caused me to say last year in the pages of Auto & Design that “It’s time for Lamborghini to reflect, regroup, and reestablish some guiding principles.” I still believe that. As I absorbed a thorough explanation of the styling of the 2015 Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4 from Lamborghini’s gracious design leader Filippo Perini at the 2014 Geneva auto show, he claimed that his “heart was wounded” by my words, although they were certainly not as sharply pointed as were some absurdly spiky recent Lamborghini designs—the disjointed, high-drag Egoista in particular.
The Lamborghini Huracan is well styled, with beautifully handled surfaces and impressive manufacturing allowing tight radii formerly impossible in aluminum, but it strikes me as more of a restyled Lamborghini Gallardo than a disruptive design. There has been a lot of effort to integrate—even to force—sharp-cornered, multisided, 2-D Euclidian geometric shapes into what is conceptually intended to be a bullet- or shark-like, 3-D volume meant to penetrate the air. There are irregular hexagonal shapes all over the car, inside and out—even the windshield perimeter—and sharp triangles, rectangles, and trapezoids are scattered about. It all works quite well in the sense of “Oh, wow! Look at that!”
I suppose that is ultimately what Lamborghinis are all about. They’re certainly not ordinary daily-use vehicles, if only because they’re exceedingly difficult to enter and egress, and you can’t carry much of anything in them. The Lamborghini Huracan is low and flat and dramatic, the look of the front end is vaguely but excitingly reptilian, it makes great noises and goes quite fast, so what’s not to like? It’s just that I hoped for more. But we must remember: Gandini didn’t have to cope with pedestrian-safety regulations, active restraints, or any of dozens of other restrictions and constraints that taint car design today.
Lamborghini Huracan Front 3/4 View
1. Sculpting around inset headlamp lenses provides visual interest on a plain, clean front end.
2. These tight-radius surface changes represent real prowess in metal shaping.
3. Slight indent in roof center is part of one of the biggest aluminum stampings in the auto industry, a source of pride at Lamborghini.
4. This little triangular window is needed to allow the extreme windshield slope—good for aerodynamics and style, not good for seeing out when it rains.
5. Three surfaces come together at this intersection, high point of the rear-fender profile: outer limit of the side cooling scoop, fender side, and roof. Note how glass tapers inward on both sides of the cabin.
6. Abrupt surface change at the rear of the door cut emphasizes the width of the rear wheels and tires and the very wide sill scoop.
7. Surprisingly big mirrors are necessary since there’s almost no view through the backlight, typical of Lamborghinis since the mid-1960s.
8. Wheels look—and are — highly vulnerable, with almost no rubber between rim and road. Beware potholes.
9. This defining line shows how the car is dramatically tapered away from the nose in plan view, reducing drag appreciably.
10. Not quite hexagonal, as there is no vertical bar at the end of the diagonals, the whole front air inlet is surprisingly large. But there’s a lot of heat to manage from more than 600 hp.
Lamborghini Huracan Rear 3/4 View
11. A concave surface is readily perceptible in this view. The composition of positive and negative surfaces is beautifully handled over the entire exterior skin.
12. This must be the flattest windshield angle of any production car today. It’s dramatic but impractical in poor-visibility conditions.
13. The faceted framing of the side glass is carried around the rear scoop and fades just as it reaches the door skin.
14. The rear-fender-profile peak separates a softly convex deck surface above from a subtle concavity below that transitions to the band that frames the wheel opening.
15. These vents evacuate heat and subtly recall the Miura window slats.
16. Considerable use is made of the ability to imprint tight surface breaks. There are three on each rear corner below the spoiler.
17. Taillights are admirably restrained, tucked into the bottom of the spoiler and ending in another sharp geometric figure, here a triangle.
18. The huge exhaust ports are perfectly integrated in the lower body, beveled to make lovely ellipses.
19. Again, considerable use is made of the ability to provide clear linear surface breaks, three in each door skin.
Lamborghini Huracan Interior View
20. Mirror control is centered in an irregular hexagon.
21. As is the cabin air vent.
22. And, with a raised base, the instrument-cluster surround.
23. The theme is repeated in the steering-wheel airbag hub.
24. And again for the external mirrors.