Speed has played a significant role in defining Lamborghini’s image since the brand’s inception in 1963, but the type of velocity it aims to achieve is changing direction. One of its top executives opined that handling, not 0-60-mph times or maximum speed, is the new benchmark in the supercar segment the company calls home.
Francesco Scardaoni, the head of the Italian company’s Asia-Pacific operations, explained achieving the quickest possible sprint from 0-60 mph and the highest possible top speed used to be what defined a Lamborghini. Rivals aimed to rule the chart, too, so exotic brands spend decades taking turns trying to outgun each other by shaving a tenth of a second from — or adding a few miles per hour to — their respective times. EVs moved the goalpost in the 2010s, according to Scardaoni, because their powertrain develops maximum torque right away.
“If you go back to 10 years ago, probably when we were asked the parameters to measure a car with we would say top speed, acceleration, and then handling. Top speed then became a secondary measure, and acceleration the first one. Now, basically [with electrification] is no more that important. because it’s quite easy for those kind of power units to have amazing results in acceleration,” he explained in an interview with Car Advice.
Exemplified by the Huracán STO introduced in 2020, the shift represents a dramatic about-face for the engineering team led by Maurizio Reggiani. Speed is easy to quantify; if we tell you that a Bugatti Chiron takes 2.4 seconds to reach 60 mph from a full stop, or that it maxes out at 304 mph, you know exactly what it can do. Handling, on the other hand, is difficult to put a number on. Gs on a skidpad is one measure, but that’s only a small part of the handling equation. There’s no unit of measurement that describes how a Divo feels on a winding Sicilian road.
Scardaoni hinted that focusing on handling is a way to keep exotic supercars relevant in the coming years. Electric hypercars are ostensibly on their way, including the Rimac C_Two and the Pininfarina Battista. Closely related, both allegedly take under two seconds to sprint from 0-60 mph thanks in part to a 1,900-horsepower drivetrain, yet they weigh approximately 4,300 pounds; they’re heavier than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Neither are in the same league as, say, the Huracán, but they’re good examples of the pros and cons of electrified performance.
“What is really now making the difference is the drivability of the car, the handling. Because, when you have good acceleration but the car is heavy to steer, heavy to handle, you cannot have that pleasure of driving in a really fast way,” he told the Australian publication. It will be interesting to see how this focus shapes Lamborghini’s next cars; the Aventador’s replacement is around the corner, and we already know that it will pack a hybrid powertrain.