Years ago, I was driving in a car with John Hennessey on the drag strip behind his shop, located just west of Houston, Texas. The car was a then-new 2014 Porsche 991.1 Turbo S that I was in the process of driving across the country. I’d been racing against one of John’s huge-horsepower Cadillac CTS-V Coupes, and after about 20 battles (the AWD Porsche kept winning) I gave him a ride in the Turbo S.
At the end of the strip I asked John if his company tunes Porsche Turbos like this one. He replied that he’d tune anything. Then I asked why on earth would anyone bother tuning such a ridiculously quick car. “Well Jonny,” he began in his infectious, homey drawl. “Two buddies buy the same car. One of them’s got to be faster than the other guy. It’s as simple as that.” Have truer words ever been spoken? The answer is no.
That’s right, for $36,995, the fine folks at VF will strap (meaning bolt) an Eaton Roots-type supercharger to your Lambo’s glorious 5.2-liter naturally aspirated V-10. Along with the help of an air-to-water intercooler, your raging bull’s power will get boosted from 631 horsepower to an anabolic 830. Torque levels rise as well, going from 442 lb-ft to 600.
Aren’t there more powerful modded Lambos to be had? Children all across the internet are no doubt screaming that Underground Racing makes a 1,500-horsepower twin-turbo package for Audi/Lambo V-10s. Check my Instagram account if you need proof. Adults in the room are still trying to wrap their heads around an 830 hp street-legal car.
Ask a Rock Star
The question is: Do you need what VF Engineering is selling? To answer this, I rang up my friend Misah Mansoor, who just happens to own a stock Giallo Performante. Moreover, the last time we spoke about his car, Misha had been talking about the possibility of giving it the VF supercharger treatment.
For music fans out there, yes, Misha (aka Bulb) is that Misha Mansoor, founder and lead guitar hero of the prog/math/djent rock band Periphery. Another rock star with a Lamborghini. Does nothing change? The thing is, Misha is a serious car geek who also drives a Porsche 718 Cayman.
Misha and I routinely take canyon drives together—he’s quick and via constant sim-training getting quicker—and wind up having 30-minute conversations about his next car. I love having these discussions because Misha actually listens to me. Need proof? MotorTrend‘s selection of the Performante as our 2018 Best Driver’s Car informed his decision to buy one. Most of my other friends ask me about cars, nod, and go buy a Prius. Ahem.
My mastermind idea was this: Grab Misha, Misha’s Lamborghini, a matte-black VF Engineering version of the Performante, and spend the day up on Angeles Crest Highway to see what’s what.
In regards to the standard Performante, if I may quote another pal of mine, “Top Gear America” host Jethro Bovingdon, “Nothing fazes this car, and that lends it a manic, overwhelming character as it howls from corner to corner, eating up the worst the surface can throw at it, piling on revs over and over again and turning with ferocious bite.”
Like I was trying to say to John Hennessey, does that sound like a car in need of tuning? It’s already a factory hotrod. Looking at my own notes after driving Misha’s stock Perf: “Angry, strained, chomping. A lovely motor. I give this V-10 a chef’s kiss. Just bang on! Dear Volkswagen Group, start shoving this engine in more cars before it’s too late!” That said, more power is more power.
What I dig the most about the VF Engineering version is how undercover it is, pretending for a moment that a Huracán Performante can ever be described with a straight face as subtle. You just aren’t aware the extra power is there when you’re going to lunch or the bank or wherever.
Until you put your foot down, the car drives and feels like a “normal” Performante. Said dropping of foot is five-alarm alarming, in a good way. I did so for the first time on a mostly empty freeway at around 70 mph and before I could think up the appropriate profanity, I was cooking over 125 mph. Absolutely insane, nearly instantaneous, and wonderfully so. I slowed back down to 70 mph, waited for a few minutes to pass, and then did it again. I had to!
Thinking about that moment again—and it was a blink of a moment—I actually went into a state of disbelief. I knew the VF car would be quick; I didn’t fully grasp just how. I’ve taken a stock Performante up to 206 mph (on a 3-mile runway). I can’t even fathom what the VF Engineering Lambo would hit. And yes, obviously the 1,500-hp monsters would go quicker and faster. But, I imagine, at the cost of subtlety. And the cost of dollars, too.
I fully dig the subtlety of what VF’s done. I remember Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman stating in an interview that it’s much harder to write an 800-word article than it is to write one that’s 1,200-words long (Editor’s note: This story is 1,750). Likewise, it’s a harder feat of engineering to bump up power and have the resulting car feel stock and daily-drivable, than it is to just hit it a car with a firehose of power. I once drove a 1,200-hp Mustang. Once.
Now is a great time to mentions that the VF version feels as if it rolled out of Lamborghini’s factory in Sant’Agata, not Anaheim where VF (and Disneyland) is located. I’m not sure if one can give a “tuner” car a bigger compliment than that. As far as I can tell, the VF supercharger kit adds power, doesn’t make the Performante any less drivable, and seems reliable. To that last part, Misha and I whipped on the VF’s car for the better part of a day, and it didn’t overheat or misfire or anything. Well, not quite anything. I did get a low oil warning, but a quart of synthetic solved that. Before you freak, I’d need another hand to count the number of times I’ve had to add oils to press cars over the years. Not a big deal, especially considering the duty cycle we put the VF through.
If there’s one drawback to what VF Engineering has done to the Lamborghini Performante, it’s the sound. The Audi/Lambo V-10 is one of the sweetest sounding instruments in the automotive universe. You get 5.2 liters of asymmetrical, yet harmonically righteous, mechanical wail—there’s practically no beating it. This symphonic concert is interrupted by the buzzing whir of the Roots-type’s two lobes spinning at 60,000 RPM atop the V-10. The result sounds huskier, gruffer, more gargley, less chiseled—not quite discordant but definitely dissonant. Let’s go with inharmonious.
Deal breaker? No way, unless you only bought a Performante for the sound. If you did, you’re lying. It’s a good fib, but it’s still untrue. The VF car doesn’t make a terrible sound, and unlike most supercharged modern cars it doesn’t emit a high-pitched whine, it’s just a less good soundtrack than stock.
Which is better: Lambo or Tuned Lambo?
So, what’s that supercharger do up in the canyons? There was much less of a difference up and down Angeles Crest Highway than I had anticipated. You always have to remember that the Performante starts life as one of the quickest, most competent supercars on the planet. Misha’s car proved no different. He had his tire pressures set below 30 psi (26 front, 28 rear) when we started out, and we both felt doing so actually made the stock car’s steering feel crisper. Not a huge difference, but noticeable to two dudes looking for tiny differences.
The VF Engineering car is quicker for certain, especially blasting off an apex. However, in a straight line it was not the massive gap I was expecting. So, the black car is quicker, for sure, and as a result—perhaps counterintuitively—it’s easier to drive. Meaning the VF car requires less work to achieve the same pace. More headroom—in the non-interior space sense of the word. I find it amazing that the Huracán chassis can so easily absorb so much (more) power, but it does. Other than the increased in thrust, the rest of the car feels unchanged in the twisties.
Does Misha, Mr. Huracán Performante owner, agree with me? “The VF Engineering kit integrates so naturally into the Huracán powertrain that one wonders if Lamborghini should offer it as a factory option. The added oomph seems to only add to the car, and it does so in a manageable and welcome way. The additional torque and power never overwhelm the Performante, effectively making the car easier to drive quickly. Still, the Huracán is just as composed and friendly in daily driving. If you are looking to level up your Huracán, this kit is a no-brainer.”
Phew—glad he agrees with me. This review would have been much harder to write if he didn’t. The takeaway is, we both feel as is the modified version feels like it rolled out of the Lamborghini factory, and the resulting product is an easier car to drive on world class roads when you’re traveling at a slightly ridiculous pace.
Is the VF Kit Worth the Money?
That’s the $36,995 question isn’t it? Hard for a mere mortal like me to even wrap my head around said question seeing as how the Huracán Performante begins life north of $280,000. I’m not currently in the market, if you know what I’m saying.
However, I’ve driven plenty of cars with six figures of options, and putting myself in that sort of (totally imaginary) headspace, I can nod yes very easy. The Ferrari 812 Superfast absolutely needs $100K worth of carbon fiber interior trim pieces. Can’t live without ’em when you get right down to it. Maybe that’s the answer? If you can swing a Lamborghini Huracán Performante, you can’t live without VF’s Supercharger. Put another way, why would you want to? Then there’s the nightmare scenario that your buddy gets a matching Performante. You’ve got to be faster than the other guy. Now you know who to call.
|2019 Lamborghini Huracán Performante||2019 Lamborghini Huracán Performante Tuned by VF Engineering|
|BASE PRICE||$286,843||$324,000 (MT est)|
|LAYOUT||Mid-engine, AWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe||Mid-engine, AWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe|
|ENGINE||5.2L/630-hp/443-lb-ft DOHC 40-valve V-10||5.2L/830-hp (est)/625-lb-ft (est) supercharged DOHC 40-valve V-10|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed twin-clutch auto||7-speed twin-clutch auto|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,493 lb||3,650 lb (MT est)|
|WHEELBASE||103.2 in||103.2 in|
|L x W x H||177.4 x 75.8 x 45.9 in||177.4 x 75.8 x 45.9 in|
|0-60 MPH||2.6 sec||2.2 sec (MT est)|
|QUARTER MILE||10.4 sec @ 134.5 mph||10.0 sec @ 138.0 mph (MT est)|
|EPA FUEL ECON||14/21/16 mpg||12/19/14 mpg (MT est)|
|ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY||241/160 kW-hrs/100 miles||281/177 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.18 lb/mile||1.36 lb/mile|
|ON SALE||Out of production||Currently available|