But the other way of looking at the Tecnica, is that it embodies the Huracan recipe finely, finally honed. After all these years the baby Lamborghini with the V10 has at last had all the kinks ironed out. It sort of felt that way with the STO, but this takes nearly all the best bits of that extreme, expensive halo model and puts them into a more useable package. The end result is a supercar that feels sensationally exciting but also remarkably drivable and fun.
Its longevity also means that the Huracan bucks the current trend for turbos. The 5.2-litre V10 is naturally aspirated and although that can sometimes be seen as out of date as the manual gearbox, Henry Catchpole believes that it shouldn’t be dismissed. Particularly where performance cars are concerned (we’re not about to wax lyrical about a 1.9-litre non-turbo diesel).
In this film we look at the reasons why NA still rules OK. Sound is clearly a benefit, but just why do naturally aspirated engines sound more musical than turbocharged ones? Then there is drivability; Turbos rule the roost when it comes to efficiency and producing power, but there are still NA traits that snails are continually striving to match.
Throw in some chat about hertz (not the rental car company) and a particular type of French pâté and you have yourselves an episode of The Driver’s Seat. We hope you enjoy it, let us know in the comments down below how you feel about naturally aspirated engines and what you love about them.
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Hagerty Video Transcript
– [Henry] Air, Unseen, all around us. That magical mixture, Just chilling seeing where the wind takes it, oblivious, that it’s about to happen, The rollercoaster ride of its life. The way that we breathe is pretty fundamental, and in the automotive landscape, the turbocharger is now king. But I want to sing the praises of the naturally aspirated engine. I don’t want this to be a case of hating on the turbocharged engine, which fundamentally is better. There’s no getting around it. Particularly in this automotive landscape, it is more efficient. It’s an easy way of producing power.
However, because of the increasing ubiquity of the turbocharger, there’s a danger that the overall narrative becomes well, somewhat negative towards naturally aspirated engines. And I don’t think that’s fair. So with the help of the new 212,000 pound or $239,000 Lamborghini Huracan Tecnica and its 5.2 liter V 10, I think it’s time, we had a bit of a reminder of just why a good NA is still the OG. I think it all starts with the names, because natural aspiration, naturally aspirated, natural, pure, aspiration. Speaking of higher things, it sounds heavenly, doesn’t it? By contrast, well, “forced induction”, that sounds like the sort of automotive equivalent of feeding for foie gras, doesn’t it? Perhaps that’s just me and my predilection
For reading too much into words. What isn’t just me though is sound. Sound is good or at least can be good. It’s why we listen to music and you can think of an engine as a musical instrument or rather three musical instruments. The first one, induction, air being forced through small pipes. It’s a wind instrument. Then after that, well you’ve got the percussion section the valve drain. And finally we have our second wind instrument, which is the exhaust. Again, air being forced through tubes. It can all add up to something wonderful. Tell me, that’s not music. The trouble is that turbocharging, well, it muffles two of those instruments. The two wind instruments are kind of, they’re just taken away from you because of the barriers that are put in the way of the air going through those tubes and that’s a shame. It is worth pointing out that this is particularly true of modern turbocharged engines that have even more to contend with in terms of restriction. You still obviously get notes, but they tend to be more sinusoidal, more singular in their tones because instead of getting all the pulses from each cylinder
Through the exhaust, for example, you get, well really just one because that’s being fed out of the turbocharger, the fluttering of wastegates or the blow-off valve. I rather like it, but it’s no match for A proper naturally aspirated voice. Those two wind instruments of induction and exhaust are just, they’re magical. And there’s something else that naturally aspirated engines have, the real spine tingling top end. You see, to get more power, NA engines need more displacement, or more revs, or both. By contrast, in modern turbocharged engines we tend to see downsizing of both cylinders and displacement and they don’t really need high revs. And that can have an exponential effect on the soundtrack. We can understand the fundamentals
Of an exhaust though by converting rpm into hertz. So let’s take this V 10 engine and let’s say just to make the maths nice and easy, it registers 9,000 rpm, which is perfectly sort of understandable for a naturally aspirated engine. Divide 9,000 by 60 and you get to 150.
Now we need to divide that by 2, because obviously the exhaust pulse only comes sort of once every two revolutions of the crank but then we can multiply that by 10, giving us 750 hertz. Now let’s take perhaps a replacement for this might be a turbocharged V6 revving to,
Again, let’s make the maths nice and easy, 7,200 rpm. So that gives us divide by 60, 120. Again, divide by 2. We get to 60. This time though we can only multiply that by 6. So we get to 360 or less than half the hertz
Of our 9,000 rpm V 10 naturally aspirated engine. So seemingly relatively little drop in rpm, gives us quite a big difference in terms of exhaust tone. Of course, it’s not just that top end that well is so spine tingling, so interesting in a naturally aspirated engine. Almost wherever you are in the rev range, you get different tones, you get things to listen to, different notes to enjoy, and that variation is key
To the second real benefit that I see to naturally aspirated engines in terms of performance cars and that’s drivability. Because the soundscape of the naturally aspirated engine is so distinctive, you instinctively know where you are in the revs. And once you know that engine you know exactly, therefore,
How it’s going to behave, when you open the throttle. Car roars by It just becomes intuitive. You feel that much more hardwired between your right foot and what’s coming out of the engine behind you. Then there’s the delivery of the performance That lovely linear progression that makes it easy to balance the car through a corner. And what the naturally aspirated engine might lack in outright thump, it makes up for in response. It’s the sharpness of the throttle response that beautiful knife edge of precision that allows you to really walk a tightrope with a naturally aspirated car. You ask for more, it gives liftoff
You get less instant request reaction. It’s electric. But with more modulation and soul. You can actually tell how important response and progression of power are because of the way that, well the press releases for turbo-charged cars talk about them. They’re always aspiring to be like naturally aspirated engines in those regards
And yet they can never quite match them. Of course, having all these naturally aspirated benefits is all well and good, but it’s as frustrating as a bayonet bulb in a world of screw and sockets if the rest of the car doesn’t let you make the most of them.
But the Tecnica definitely lets you make the most of them. It’s why I think it’s still an important car because I bet quite a few of you look at it just as, well, another Huracan, another evolution of a car that well fundamentally came out 20 years ago, this year
In the form of the Gallardo. It’s like Lamborghini is clinging on. It might be seen as old fashioned or another rehash but actually in the Tecnica, this magical 5.2 liter V 10 has the package to live up to it. I’ve driven pretty much all of the Gallardos, and Huracans over the years,
And this is simply the best. The direct steering ratio combined with the rear steering means it feels small and wieldly, and absurdly drivable and above all, fun. But with this yowling heart of a monster, everything comes together. Yes, arguably the STO is even more pure
As the one I’d love to try and live with, if I could only have one Huracan. But then I am the sort of person that thinks a camping trip is actually a holiday. I was worried it might not work on UK roads but actually it does.
And you have the breadth of ability in this. You can’t put it into strata mode. It becomes quieter. You don’t have to have the noise all the time and the ride is perfectly supple. The changes might seem relatively minor but the Tecnica is the all round package. It’s still a little rawer than some of its competitors, but to me that just ensures it retains the drama and fierceness that a supercar should have, particularly an Italian one. Arguably the option of that other piece
Of almost extinct engineering, a manual gearbox, would make it even better but it’s dual clutch is so good that I can even forego a third pedal. It might be coming to the end of its life, but it’s one of the very best driver’s cars in the world right now.
It would be easy to think that the naturally aspirated engine is coming to the end of its life too. It’s been predicted for years, but I definitely don’t want you to think of this film as an obituary. Manufacturers like Lamborghini, and Porsche are keeping the faith
And with the advent of synthetic fuels, who knows? So, let’s stay positive. Naturally aspirated engines, long may they continue.