Like the weather phenomenon from which it takes its name, Lamborghini's Huracan is fast, sleek and sudden as the wind.
The supercar was introduced in 2015 and is marketed by Lamborghini as its entry level, more accessible, daily driver.
Yeah right! It costs more than $250,000, and goes more than 200 mph.
Even at that price, sales of the rear-engine Huracan are a big factor in Lamborghini's success these days.
The company reported a 28% bump in global sales in 2015. In the U.S., the Italian luxury sports car brand sold a record 1,009 cars — a high percentage of them in California.
Electronically limited to 200 mph for safer road driving, the Huracan jets from zero to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds. And 100 mph happens very soon in this car.
Though the Huracan is laden with ultralight carbon fiber modernities, it achieves its performance specs in a beautifully old-fashioned way. This is a mid-engine sports car powered by a rather analog V-10 naturally aspirated 5.2-liter engine that makes 610 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque.
That power is made tractable by all-wheel drive, sophisticated adaptive steering technology and a magnetic suspension system known colloquially as magneride. These combine with the electronic stability control and massive carbon ceramic brakes to create a fluid, almost flawless driving experience.
On the narrow twisting turns above Ojai on Highway 33, I found the cornering crisp and precise. Even in the strada, or street setting, the suspension is stiff and throttle response is immediate.
These values rise dramatically with the shift to "sport" or the closed-course mode, corsa. So do the shift points. So does the mufflergrowl, which even in strada mode produces a startling early morning wake-up call for the neighbors. The engine also begins sending more torque to the rear axle.
As is generally the case with supercars, I found the weakest link was the driver. No matter how fast or hard I drove the Huracan, no matter how tight the turn or difficult the maneuver, the car was always willing to do much more than I was willing to demand.
On the open road, the Huracan's "daily driver" qualities seem less convincing. That mid-engine power plant is only inches away from the driver's head. It's hot and loud — like, airplane cabin or wind tunnel loud. The otherwise delightful sound system and blue tooth capability lose some of their utility on the freeway.
And the driver's seat, though generously adjustable, is really a race seat. This may be a daily driver, but it's no grand touring car, a point made more evident by its limited storage capacity. The only place for luggage is under the hood, in a tidy cubby just big enough to accommodate a single airline carry-on bag.
On the race track, at high speeds, the Huracan would benefit tremendously from its low, sexy profile. Around town, it's a liability. Even with the optional $6,900 hydraulic nose-lifting technology — push a button, even when the car is in motion, and the front end rises several inches — daily driving may include a lot of chin scraping.
As for amenities, Lamborghini has included only the essentials as standard equipment, and not too many more as options. This model was kitted out with a $3,200 navigation system, a $3,900 rear-view camera (very useful for backing up in a massively expensive vehicle with such poor side and rear visibility) and sultry Alcantara interior upholstery.
But it may be the only vehicle sold in America that doesn't include a single cup holder, and the only one that comes with a pair of leather gloves, along with a rudimentary tool kit, so you don't muss up your mitts making roadside repairs.
There may be fewer of those repairs than was traditional with the higher-end exotic car marques. Once considered a fussy, fragile thoroughbred that was going to spend as much time in the service center as on the road, Lamborghini has been an increasingly more dependable vehicle since being taken over by Volkswagen's Audi brand in the late 1990s.
Lamborghini has positioned the Huracan as its entry-level model, but the entrance fee is pretty steep. The base price is $241,995; the model I drove would sell for $297,275. That price includes the $1,300 "gas guzzler" tax.
In other words, it's a car for the 1% of the 1% of the 1% of drivers who are wealthy, love Italian sports cars, and can afford a second or third vehicle that costs more than the median price of an American home.
Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Karl Brauer noted that sales are increasingly strong for virtually all exotic car brands, as the economy improves and wealthier car enthusiasts become less shy about driving super-expensive automobiles.
"The ability to buy them never went away, but the willingness to be seen driving them diminished" after the 2008 economic downturn, Brauer said. "That has evaporated. The idea of conspicuous consumptionism isn't a problem in people's minds anymore."
You can spend a little less on a Lambo, but not much. The lower-horsepower, rear-wheel-drive version of the Huracan costs a mere $199,800 before taxes and destination charges.
And you can certainly spend more. The larger, more powerful Aventador line, with its 750-horsepower engine, starts at $400,000 and can go up to more than $550,000 with options. The just-unveiled 770-horsepower Centenario will cost $1.9 million when it hits dealerships — and Lamborghini says all 40 of the Centenarios it will produce are already sold.
So relatively speaking, as an initiation fee into the exclusive club of exotic car owners, the Huracan isn't really that expensive. For a certain class of American consumer, it's actually a bargain.
Go on, you one percenters! Live a little.
2016 Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4
Times’ take: Fast, furious and fun
Highs: Easy to drive, easy to love
Lows: Race car hot, race car loud, race car spendy
Vehicle type: Two-door, two-passenger sports car
Base price: $241,995
Price as tested: $297,275
Powertrain: 5.2-liter, V-10 engine
Transmission: 7-speed dual clutch automatic
Torque: 413 pound-feet
Zero to 60 mph: 3.1 seconds
Estimated fuel economy rating: 14 miles per gallon city / 21 highway
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