Supercar Reboots

Lamborghini and Nissan upgrade their hero cars for 2020

BY MICHAEL FRANK — Fall 2019

y any measure, “hero” cars — manufacturers’ glitziest rides — are the ones that make you look like one. They should be heroic to the company that builds them, too, making the entire brand shine a little more brightly. If you’ve driven prior versions of either the Lamborghini Huracán or the Nissan GT-R, you know how heroic they were already. But, spoiler alert: The 2020 Lamborghini Huracán Evo and Nissan GT-R Nismo have emerged from three-year redevelopments and both carmakers have created far more capable — and astonishingly faster — vehicles. Yes, that’s partly visible in the numbers: You’ll reach 60 mph in under three seconds for each and both will shoot past 200 mph. But these days, the battle in the supercar arms race increasingly demands super algorithms, so the carmakers have measured everything about these cars down to the millisecond and millimeter. They’ve also adjusted the suspensions, engines, steering, and transmissions, all in the name of giving you, the driver, “hand-of-god” skills you never thought you had. Trust us: On the track, we romped in both like superheroes soaring at hypersonic speeds. Here, we put these machines side by side to help you size up which supercar’s powers work best for you.

Lamborghini Huracán Evo

THE CABIN
This spacecraft on wheels hugs you like skinny jeans. Once you hop in, your eyes will scan nothing but carbon fiber, brushed metal, and suede, and every surface — whether it’s the armrest or the paddle shifters bracketing the steering wheel — has a substantial heft. You’ll feel like the pilot of a fighter plane kitted out by Italian designers.

ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN
The V-10 engine, which hulks like a jetpack just behind your head, sends its power to all four wheels, but it isn’t turbocharged because the carmaker believes turbos deliver power too unevenly. It’s hard to argue: The Lambo’s 640-hp not only feels bottomless, but built-in torque vectoring always applies power to the wheel with the most traction, so you can accelerate to extreme speeds while never overwhelming the chassis. For highway speeds, use the seven gears to drop revs for less of a din.

MAGICAL ELECTRONICS
Multiple computers process information from more than 400 sensors thousands of times a second. The system, Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Integrata, or LDVI, constantly micromanages and responds to how you’re driving — but you never perceive it. Whereas stability or traction control in other cars swoops in after you make a mistake, LDVI’s microadjustments prevent you from losing control.

THE CHASSIS
The carbon-fiber and aluminum chassis produces five times more downforce vs. the prior Huracán, and that’s especially important when you’re driving fast. At well beyond 100 mph, the new car stayed squat on the test track, and we could tell it was working through fast corners.

PRICE AND INFO
From $261,274; www.lamborghini.com


Nissan GT-R Nismo

THE CABIN
When driving this Nissan, you might have the misconception that you’re not even in a supercar. The livable cockpit displays a relatively restrained personality, with lots of carbon-fiber trim but little else to dazzle you. But it boasts plenty of room and its back seat will fit real-life teenagers. New Recaro seats cradle you when you’re bolting around the track, but they’re also surprisingly comfortable for all-day driving.

ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN
The six-speed transmission keeps the GT-R’s engine at higher revs, making this car relatively loud for highway cruising. But for everyday driving at a slower pace, the V-6 purrs placidly and you’ll roll through traffic as mildly as the econobox in the next lane. Plus, the suspension in “Comfort” mode is just that — comfortable. Then — whoa! — switch into the upgraded performance “R” mode (the most aggressive version suggested for street driving) and the 600-hp twin-turbocharged V-6 will warp you to 100 mph in under 10 seconds.

MAGICAL ELECTRONICS
A super-smart all-wheel-drive system mates to a greatly updated six-speed transmission and features the previously mentioned “R” mode, which both downshifts and upshifts by reading and reacting to your driving style. It consistently put us in the correct gear for every corner of the complex test track where we drove the GT-R outside Berlin. You can shift manually, but why bother when the automated system is smarter?

THE CHASSIS
By swapping to a more carbon-fiber-intensive chassis, Nissan shaved 44 pounds from the prior GT-R. The reshaped nose results in greater cooling for the front brakes, and those brakes are new, too, and take far less effort to bite. That’s important — fast cars have to slow down in a hurry!

PRICE AND INFO
From $210,740; nissanusa.com

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