The limited-edition Lamborghini Huracán Sterrato is already sold out.
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY LAMBORGHINI AUTOMOBILI
The smoothly paved surface of the track at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway in Desert Center, an hour or so east of Palm Springs, had ended, and my drive had come to a rather unceremonious standstill.
I could feel my co-pilot looking over at me. “Go through the cones and into the dirt,” he instructed.
I was not exactly comfortable heeding this suggestion — not because I lack confidence as an off-road driver (I’ve tested a passel of jacked-up trucks and SUVs in the sand), but because I was behind the wheel of a $275,000 Italian supercar. Still, I followed his direction. The 601-horsepower Lamborghini Huracán Sterrato was designed to dance at the extremes.
Lifted at all four corners, the limited-edition, V10-powered Sterrato gleans its off-road confidence from enhanced ground clearance and elongated suspension, all the better to absorb bumps, holes, and washouts. It’s wider than the standard Huracán by 30 millimeters up front and 34 millimeters at the rear, which keeps it planted in any environment. Flared fenders shield the wheels from airborne debris, while aluminum skid plates protect sensitive components like the transmission and gas tank.
The raging bull looks ready to rumble outside a Palm Springs home.
This is not your typical exotic. It sports high-intensity driving lights, bars up top for a roof rack, and a snorkel on its hunchback that intakes clean air from higher up to avoid choking on the rooster tails of dust thrown up when navigating off-road terrain. The angular body looks less like other competitive supercars and more like something that just drove off a post-apocalyptic movie set.
It is indeed meant to venture off road. As Rouven Mohr, chief technical officer of the Italian marque, said at the vehicle’s introduction: “Lamborghini cars always deliver emotion. The Sterrato delivers a new degree of driving thrills.”
As odd as it is when compared to its closest rivals, like the Ferrari F8 Tributo or McLaren 720S, it has similar analogs in Lamborghini’s history. While the charging bull brand never fielded an official factory supercar in the short-lived, unhinged, and occasionally deadly Group B off-road racing series of the 1980s, it has a history of creating bat-shit off-road vehicles.
In the ’80s, Lamborghini built the LM002, aka The Rambo Lambo. Equipped with a V12 engine, the all-wheel-drive, four-door truck helped establish the luxury pickup trend that has devoured the car market in the past decade. More recently, it created the Urus, an outrageously fast five-door SUV that is now considered the brand’s entry-level offering and has easily become its bestseller.
At its best when life gets a little messy, the Huracán Sterrato wields a 5.2-liter V10.
The Sterrato is based on the two-door Huracán, a ridiculous wedge of sneering menace that shares its underpinnings, but not its attitude, with the Audi R8 — another two-door two-seater produced by the German company that has owned Lamborghini since 1998. The Huracán has been on sale for almost 10 years and has been wildly successful for Lamborghini, selling more than 20,000 units. A new hybrid iteration is already on the horizon; so the Sterrato (which means “dirt road” in Italian) is in part a means of injecting new interest and sales in an old bovine, just before it’s put out to pasture.
The tactic works. I was admittedly anxious about taking a six-figure supercar onto a rutted track usually populated by leather-suited off-road motorcycle racers. We paused only briefly upon exiting the tarmac to toggle the steering-wheel-mounted switch from Corsa (race mode) to Rally, automatically adjusting the electronically controlled suspension, steering, engine, brakes, and all-wheel-drive system to off-road settings before heading into the rubble.
A luxe interior looks ready to race.
The Huracán Sterrato develops 601 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque.
After that, it was simply a matter of following orders from my passenger. The advice was generally (and surprisingly) to do more. More power. More twisting of the steering wheel. More brakes. Remarkably, the Sterrato responded not by plowing into a dune or a scrubby desert tree, but by going exactly where I intended it to. It was closer to my experience piloting a Riva speedboat on Lake Como in Italy than any track time I’ve ever had.
Credit the Sterrato’s torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system and electronically locking rear differential, which sends power not only frontward or rearward, but also to any tire that the computer detects has or needs traction. Some people dislike ceding control to the machines in these circumstances — I was in awe of its intelligence.
The Huracán Sterrato launches from 0 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds up to a top speed of 160 mph.
With specially designed Bridgestone tires — thicker and squishier and wrapped around smaller wheels than other Huracáns I’ve been in — it also navigates the streets with ease. After our time on the track and in the dirt, we ventured to Palm Springs and then into the High Desert. Although the car looked kind of absurd booming down Indian Canyon Drive through the center of town, and only marginally less absurd on the dusty Park Boulevard that traverses Joshua Tree National Park, the additional rubber and lifted ride height made the Sterrato cushier over the desert’s washboard roads. For a car that looks startlingly rowdy, it was almost soothing.
Lamborghini has already sold out its global allotment of 1,499 Sterratos, each one likely outfitted with myriad customizations that bring the final price tag well above $300,000. One can almost hear the brand’s cash registers ringing. It likely won’t be long before other high-end sport and luxury brands take note and perform a similar steroidization on their supercars.
Some purists may lament such decisions. But these vehicles are built for joy, and that’s exactly what awaits beyond the pavement.