Take it for a Spin

Take it for a spin!

That wasn’t the response I expected when I offered to wash the new 2016 Auto Vault  Lamborghini Huracan Spyder. The Spyder had just arrived after a three day cross-country drive from Southern California to Minneapolis. It was slated to make its debut at next day’s Caffeine and Gasoline event, I wanted to make sure it was in top shape. Before we continue, let us appreciate the fact that in 2016, you can take a Lamborghini across country without any issues! What a time to be alive!

I had initially planned to take the Huracan for a spin after finishing the Tesla. The prospect of driving a supercar was more than enough motivation to work with a focus and determination unobtainable by any quantity of caffeine. Even so, I didn’t finish till very late and decided it may not be the best time to roam the streets of Minneapolis, in someone else’s supercar, that I had never driven before. Instead, I woke up early, substituted caffeine with a shot of supercar adrenalin, and roused the beast bright and early at 6am with the red safety capped start button!

Go time

I love the styling. Specifically, the interior fit and finish is excellent, and echoes the car’s German influence (that’s right, German!).  The haptic feedback on all the buttons and switches is spot on – just the right amount of resistance, weight, and feel. Although it was still a bit chilly, I felt obligated to open the roof. The very comfortable alcantara seats quickly warmed up.

In the relatively tame “Strada” mode, the car quickly shifted through the gears and cruised with little noise or drama. On the highway the car will actually disable half of the cylinders for improved fuel efficiency. Once the engine was properly warmed up, the redline was raised, and it was time to see what this car could do.

After getting familiar with everything in the car, it was time to explore the aptly named “Sport” and “Corsa” modes. The sound alone was intoxicating! I believe it to be a form of community service to downshift in any and all overpasses and tunnels, as the noise emanating from the engine makes the surroundings immediately a better place to be. You're welcome, Minneapolis.

The car has a very dual personality. Leave it in Strada, drive moderately, and you find yourself in a well-equipped luxury Spyder. But oh so quickly this car becomes a raging bull. Screaming under a particularly long overpass invoked sounds reserved for F1 cars racing through the Fremont Hotel Tunnel in Monaco. 0-60 in 3 seconds, with a hair over 600hp distributed to all 4 wheels. The chassis was stiff but never became uncomfortable. Steering is direct and confidence inspiring. The only issue with the roof up is peripheral visibility, which makes it difficult to maneuver in traffic. The rearward visibility is poor, but adequate for spotting all of the amateur paparazzi snapping shots.

Alas, it became time to return the car, get it washed and shined up ready for Caffeine and Gasoline. Predictably so, the car was a hit at the event, looking classy with its dark metallic blue color scheme. I couldn’t help but look back at my morning with the Lamborghini Huracan and smile, fortunate for the opportunity to have commanded this bull, ever so briefly.

Then it got better

You would expect this is where the story ends..

But, it wasn’t until after Caffeine and Gasoline that I was tossed the keys to the McLaren 650S Spider!!

“Go ahead, see which one you like better...”

Now I had the enviable task of comparing two 600+ horsepower convertible super cars against each other! What a day!

 

Although the McLaren sports a more humble V8, it is certainly not an efficient car, so I started my adventure at the nearest gas station that supplies 93 octane fuel. As predicted, the bright orange exotic instantly garnered attention as I took a lucky guess as to which side the gas cap is on (left) and pulled in to fuel up the beast.

Right away I settled the question of how I ended up in this car. People were amazed to learn that they too could drive around in this thing as part of Auto Vault’s Fantasy Drives. To me McLaren has always been the pinnacle of automotive engineering, I was surprised however that the name was new to many folks. People wanted to know where it came from. Was it Italian? What kind of engine does it have? How much Power? 0-60? I didn’t know all of these answers, but a quick wikipedia study remedied that and provided me with enough factoids to cover me throughout the day.

On the Road

The McLaren is by no means ill equipped, but it is clear that the priority was not on making fancy buttons and switches. Everything about the car is focused on being a hardcore car. The steering was even more so direct than the Lamborghini and in a way reminiscent of a go-kart. The car’s light-weight chassis and stiff handling were not obnoxious, but certainly made the Lambo seem like a pretty cushy ride in comparison. The V8 had a distinct grumble and was paired to a 7 speed dual clutch gearbox that lacked its Italian counterpart’s finesse around town and low speeds. Once again, this car was clearly made for the track!

But, everything makes sense once you step on the gas. There is a point where the two turbochargers come fully online, there is a woosh of air being crammed into the engine and 610HP are sent directly to the rear wheels. You’re no longer looking at the small nav screen or basic push buttons. You simply try to keep up with shifting and keeping speeds reasonable. Electrons are coursing through the stability control modules to keep the power from turning the rear tires into smoke. The noise coming out of the rear is terrifying. Mothers cover their children’s ears as obscenities emanate from both the engine and driver.

I took the car to the aircraft spotting lot at MSP [as there are two tunnels on the way there] to spend some time relaxing and see how the car does in public. This bright orange hot wheel brought much joy to kids who seemed to forget there were jets taking off behind them. As soon as I stepped out and announced this car is rentable, parents too seemed to make their interest visible. Questions were asked, selfies taken, and hopefully days were made better.

I was left with answering the question which had started this whole adventure.

Which is better?

I have no doubt the McLaren is the better car if the objective is to get a skilled driver around a track as fast as possible. It has been designed, built, and tested for just that purpose. The true engineering feat however, all that power is packaged in a way that allows an enthusiast like myself to derive immense joy from the car without wrapping it sideways around the first tree. A brilliant job by McLaren all around.

However, I am not a very skilled driver trying to get around a track as fast as possible. I am humble enough to know that the hardcore handling mode that disables traction control may not be the best way for me to experience a 600+ rear wheel drive roadster. I wouldn’t choose the McLaren as the better car for me. The Lamborghini indulges and spoils, even while sitting still. When in motion, it takes just a downshift to bring alive the V10, with it a sound so sweet its legality may be questionable. The tone of the engine is the tangible output of any car connected directly to your right foot’s actions. The gratification is instant with the Lamborghini.

Guest Post by Mehrdad Zarifkar of em-detailing