Porsche recently debuted an off-road version of its 911 sports car, the 911 Dakar. Now another brand that made its name building track-focused sports cars wants to do the same. On Nov. 30, Lamborghini unveiled the Huracán Sterrato, a jacked-up version of its $270,000 Huracán supercar.
The Sterrato is for neither rock crawling nor forging through dry river beds. It’s not for fanning out waves of sand in the dunes as if in some tourism advertisement for Dubai. You’re more likely to see it on the Las Vegas Strip than down the highway at King of the Hammers.
The best it will do is carry you across “loose or dirt surfaces,” the company says. Let’s be honest: In many parts of the world (even and especially those owned by rich people), that describes the driveway. Sterrato means gravel in Italian.
Even being able to navigate a choppy driveway is a win for the Lamborghini Huracán. In its more common form, the 631-horsepower coupe has an exoskeleton of carbon fiber components whose cringeworthy cost to repair is surpassed only by the frequency with which they need repairing. With road clearance barely able to handle speed bumps, and exterior visibility an afterthought in that cockpit, carbon fiber chins and splitters and rims tend to get scraped, even on the most innocuous city streets.
Porsche’s brass told Bloomberg they made the trailfinder 911 to capitalize on a new wave of customers who have camped, hiked, skied and off-roaded with their 911s—at least approximated the look for posts on Instagram. Lamborghini executives can’t exactly claim customers are out glamping with their Huracáns. Unlike Porsche, they don’t even have a cross-country, baja-style race car with rally wins somewhere in their heritage. Still, who needs heritage when there’s money to be made?
“We were very inspired by the rally races and cars from the 1980s,” says Rouven Mohr, Lamborghini’s chief technology officer. During a phone interview, he says he’s been toying with the idea of an off-road Lamborghini since at least 2017; the project was put on ice until Stephan Winkelmann, Lamborghini’s president and chief executive officer, retook the helm in 2020. “Winkelmann came in and said, ‘Why did this car not get made? You should do it.’”
There is genuine financial incentive behind making wild, limited-edition versions of existing models, said Michael Dean, senior European automotive analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, in an email. Small production numbers and “specialness” can command high price premiums and bolster profit margins—which is particularly critical for companies considering initial public offerings.
“Given Porsche is now listed, and Lamborghini’s next in the IPO list, these limited editions show they can match Ferrari’s business model with very lucrative sports car derivatives,” Dean said. “Lamborghini has actually overtaken Ferrari’s EBIT margin [operating earnings over operating sales] this year. For them it’s a case of showcasing new technology and continuing to build the brand, as well as underpinning the margin.”
Mohr says that although the close timing for the two vehicles was unintentional, Lamborghini and Porsche (both controlled by Volkswagen AG) shared ideas during the development processes. In fact, Lamborghini has done nearly as much to pump up this Huracán for overlanding use as Porsche did with the 911 Dakar.
The Sterrato has increased ground clearance by 44 millimeter (1.7 inches) compared with the Huracán EVO, and widened the front (by 30 mm) and rear (by 34 mm) at the wheels; Porsche increased ground clearance by 50 mm. The Sterrato offers a Rally mode like the one in Lamborghini’s Urus for low-grip conditions, along with new calibrations for Strada and Sport modes; Porsche introduced Rallye and Off-Road modes. Sterrato has additional aluminum underbody protection, and a high-set air intake in the back sends dust-free air to the engine.
Underneath the hood, this dirt-road Huracán boasts a 610-hp, V10 engine that goes zero to 62 mph in 3.4 seconds, and has a top speed is 160 mph. By comparison, the Huracán STO gets to 60mph in just under 2.6 seconds and has a top speed of 196 mph.
Production of the limited-edition Huracán Sterrato will begin in Feb. 2023, with pre-orders starting by the end of this year. A total of 1,499 will be made and sold worldwide. (There is no significance to the random number, although it does reflect increased production volumes that were raised after preliminary photos of the vehicle resulted in higher-than-anticipated demand, a spokesperson said.) Pricing in Europe starts at €263,000 ($272,0000); US pricing has yet to be announced.
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.