Generally Electric: Invading the Land of EVs in a Lambo

More drivers in Norway pilot EVs than anywhere else. So naturally we drove the new Huracán Evo there.

Take a potentially mythical car, the Lamborghini Huracán Evo. Drive it in a mythical land, the Lofoten Islands of Norway. The result, on this dangling archipelago north of the Arctic Circle, becomes a commentary on perspective: While we're overwhelmed by Lofoten's extreme beauty—who knew Norway could look like this?—the locals flip out over the orange Huracán in their midst, glowing like the sun that never sets here between mid-May and mid-July.

Indeed, the Huracán hasn't lost its power to stun. Five years into the model's fabulously successful run, the updated 631-hp Huracán Evo (up 29 horses from last year) becomes the base version of the supercar from Sant'Agata Bolognese. On the blazing heels of the record-setting Performante edition, the Lamborghini that took the fight to Ferrari and McLaren, the Evo borrows liberally from the company toolkit. It includes a barely modified version of the Performante's titanium-valved 5.2-liter V-10, and rear-wheel steering first seen on the Aventador S. Formerly optional magnetic dampers and variable-ratio steering are now standard. Design upgrades include a new front bumper and enlarged rear diffuser, an integrated spoiler that neatly bridges the rear decklid, and thigh-high exhaust outlets that move up-and-inboard in contemporary supercar fashion. Only the Performante's novel ALA aerodynamics system is missing here, with its hollow, air-channeling rear wing.

Something else may be "missing" in modern supercar terms, but not according to Stefano Domenicali, Lamborghini's energetic chairman and chief executive. Following dinner at a 17th century Norwegian farmhouse still owned by its original family after 350 years, Domenicali joins us to commune with the midnight sun. We climb the steep slopes of Aunfjellet, past birch trees stunted by savage winter weather, and summit above the cloud line at the tip of a jagged promontory. It's a view that even Frodo and Samwise might describe as worth the hike, barefoot or not: mountains in their summer emerald cloaks thrust from blue fjords below to tear holes in the clouds. It's nearly 1 a.m. now, yet the sun still flirts with the horizon, never dipping below, bathing the scene in painterly lamplight.

A company drone ventures over the stomach-flipping cliff edge, recording the scene. It seems sacrilege to talk business in this breathtaking aerie, even with the CEO, so we pose for a photo instead. Just before our lung-taxing climb, however, we remind Domenicali where we're standing: Norway, which, despite being one of the world's largest exporters of oil and natural gas, has carrot-and-sticked its citizens into driving more EVs per capita than any nation on earth. Thanks to lavish tax breaks and roadway benefits for EV owners, as well as crushing penalties on internal-combustion cars—America's $267,069 Lamborghini will cost at least $500,000 here—the Tesla Model 3 is Norway's bestselling vehicle. This year, plug-in cars began outselling gasoline and diesel cars combined.

Sure, Norway and its 5.5 million citizens are outliers. But they may also be a canary in a coalmine, as governments around the world seek to drive EV adoption and make life difficult for purely gas-powered cars. Domenicali acknowledges the global industry's competitive pressures, from C02 regulations to the turbocharging and electrification that Lamborghini, now virtually alone, seems determined to resist. Whether he's whistling past the naturally aspirated graveyard or not, Domenicali sounds a note as defiant as the Huracán V-10 at full, 8,500-rpm shriek.

For the company, Domenicali says, "It would be a very big mistake" to electrify its cars too quickly. Let Porsche or Ferrari strap on batteries or make room for plugs; they are not Lamborghini.

"We should not be the first; we should instead be the last," he says. "The customers, they would just not buy the car" if it lost the special, iconoclastic character for which Lamborghinis are famed.

The Volkswagen-owned company, of course, has succumbed to corporate and market pressures to build the Urus SUV, already the brand's top-selling model. Thank God for that, because without our Urus support vehicle, photographer William Walker's gear would never fit in the Huracán's scrawny frunk. Score one for McLaren here, with its sports cars' decidedly roomier front cargo holds. But give Lamborghini a check mark for beauty: The Huracán's combination of drama, simplicity and familiarity—as warm and pure as a museum's china saucer, and still clearly descended from the Countach—is still more compelling than McLaren's busier, temple-of-tech aesthetic approach.

The next morning, a short hop from the mainland takes us through the first of myriad, multi-kilometer tunnels—including the undersea variety—that link Lofoten's green jigsaw of islands, and allow the Lamborghini to do what it does best: Delight fellow subterranean drivers, or terrorize them, with its wail and artillery-exhaust backfires. Andrea Rigon, our indispensable Lamborghini tech and Urus driver, reports that the Evo's more naked rear design and raised exhaust, both inspired by the Huracán race car, lets him see the glowing-ember exhaust catalysts from behind. It's a nifty match for the gorgeous Arancio Xanto paint, whose juicy-Sunkist hue seems a new high for orange Lambos. Including the new front bumper and reshaped underbody, the company says the Evo has more than five times the overall aero efficiency of the original Huracán.

That drive to our ferry crossing at Refsnes Fergelie, sandwiched between RVs and econoboxes, lets us sample the mellowest Strada driving mode. Here, the Evo prefers its top sixth or seventh gears to the point that only the black-winged paddle shifters or a throttle kickdown will summon a downshift. That's intentional, the result of more ecofriendly tuning for the dual-clutch gearbox. Fortunately, there's so much torque underfoot, with 443 lb-ft, that it's never an annoyance. And while the windshield is so flat that it's hard to see the high-altitude scenery, this mid-engine Lambo has otherwise become virtually as comfy and approachable as a Corvette—but with a superior, drama-queen interior and a racier version of Audi's Virtual Cockpit. The Evo also debuts the company's 8.4-inch, vertically oriented multimedia touchscreen. It ably replaces a clumsily integrated Audi-based MMI unit, with features from Apple CarPlay to an (optional) two-camera telemetry and lap-recording system.

At the ferry dock, workers give our Lamborghinis pride of place and let us park at the ship's open prow. Moving to an upper deck for the crossing, we chuckle as fellow passengers switch their photographic attention from the sparkling fjords to our sparkling exotics. First off the ferry, we pick up the pace along Lofoten's coast on the Norwegian Sea, warmed year-round by currents from Mexico.

The Evo name, we learn, suits a car whose performance has appreciably bettered since 2015. Rock this Huracán and it should howl to 60 mph in about 2.5 seconds, to 120 mph in 8.9 seconds, and to an estimated 202-mph top speed. Carbon-ceramic brakes are easy to modulate, with the company claiming a stop from 100 kph (62 mph) in less than 105 feet. Yes, it's your typical 2020 supercar, a spaceship that somehow holds a license to voyage on Earth. Alien ships have big brains on the bridge, and a new central processor called LDVI (for Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Integrata) manages all the Evo's dynamic systems, using "feed forward" logic to anticipate rather than react to a driver's demands. Lambo says that LDVI adjusts 50 times per second, absorbing a dizzying 240 channels of input, from steering angle to vehicle yaw. The company's axis-monitoring gyroscopes and accelerometers are upgraded to Version 2.0.

All good so far, including the ridiculous surplus of traction and confidence granted by the Haldex AWD system, mechanical-locking rear differential, and Lamborghini's first use of brake-based torque vectoring. Try as I might, I can barely elicit a squeal from the 20-inch Pirelli P Zero tires (including 305/30R-20s at the rear), with stickier Corsas optional. But when I toggle the steering wheel's "Anima" switch to Sport or Corsa modes and attack these narrow, no-shoulder mountain roads, something feels . . . off, as it did when I briefly lapped the Evo at Willow Springs. That "something" is the new rear steering, which can dial the rear wheels up to three degrees opposite the fronts for sharpened responses at lower speeds, then turn the wheels in-phase to promote stability when you're flying.

Now, I get, and appreciate, what steering the rear wheels does: It helps the Evo to rotate around its axis, taming understeer that once plagued Lamborghinis, and making it even easier for Captain Slow owners to feel like Captain Marvel. A Lamborghini exec tells me the "rear steering is your weapon." But that doesn't mean I want to feel the weapon at work, especially when it seems to adjust the Evo's driving line in a way that the seat of my pants wasn't expecting. By the second day, I've largely acclimated to the system. But I'll go so far as to say that the rear steering needs re-tuning and refinement to make it more transparent.

We spend that night on the docks, literally, in century-old cabins, once rented to working fishermen. This historic village of Nusford recalls a Popeye cartoon come to life albeit with a cod-liver refinery instead of a spinach processor. Come morning, it's time for a last, healthful blast to Harstad and the mainland. Determined to make the most of it, I spank my way through the Huracán's gears—whaap, whaap, whaaaap—turning every tunnel into a blaring Motörhead reunion concert, and sizzle through mountains at a superhuman pace.

Roaring into the relatively large town of Svolvear, population 4,600, we hop aboard a fast, twin-outboard boat on a "safari" to spot Lofoton's native sea eagles. Our captain tempts the enormous birds from cliffside perches with fishy snacks. Our boat wends through the green heart of fjords that recall a real-life Jurassic Park, minus the raptors—but with a pod of young orcas that repeatedly break the ocean's surface as we cruise alongside.

Returning to the seaside village, we find a crowd on their own safari, surrounding our two Huracáns and two Urus support vehicles to capture photos and video of these rarely seen beasts.

Tesla may be Norway's most popular car, but at this moment, these environmentally conscious Norwegians couldn't give a damn about battery packs or climate change—they want to hear the Huracáns make some Viking thunder. I spot a roughly 10-year-old boy, eyes full of wonder, and ask if he'd like to sit behind the Huracán's wheel. I don't have to ask twice. He hops in, and at my urging, proceeds to rev the V-10 like a pro, its metallic barks shredding the town square. Everywhere, smiles.

They get it. We get it. A Lamborghini is special. It earns some dispensation, a pass to bend the rules now and again, whether in social responsibility or speed limits. At least, that's what we're hoping as we storm back up the archipelago.

2020 Lamborghini Huracán Evo Specifications

ON SALE Now
PRICE $267,069 (base)
ENGINE 5.2L DOHC 40-valve V-10; 631 hp @ 8,000 rpm, 443 lb-ft @ 6,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
LAYOUT 2-door, 2-passenger, mid-engine, AWD coupe
EPA MILEAGE 13/19 mpg (city/hwy, est)
L x W x H 177.9 x 88.0 x 45.9 in
WHEELBASE 103.1 in
WEIGHT 3,575 lb (est)
0-60 MPH 2.5 sec (est)
TOP SPEED 202 mph
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