We Unleashed Lamborghini’s Huracán Sterrato At An Epic Rocky Mountain Rally
The once-in-a-lifetime Giro rally was timed to celebrate the Lamborghini’s 60th anniversary.
Although the date on my iPhone reads mid-July and the sun shines brilliantly overhead, the wind surging through the cabin of this Lamborghini Huracán Sterrato feels as crisp as an autumn day.
As we climb towards Independence Pass—the fourth-highest paved road in all of Colorado—the sensation unsettles, but in a positive way, as if the body is caught off guard. The paradox reminds me of off-roading across the Altiplanos of Chile; extreme altitudes create a bizarre and unique visceral experience where the bright sun juxtaposes against surprisingly cool and thin air. It makes you feel alive in a way few climates can.
The curving State Highway 82 ahead looks like someone dropped a bag of giant Skittles on the asphalt, as I’m mid-phalanx in a line of other rainbow-colored Lambos climbing the challenging Rocky Mountain pass. We’re all here participating in the latest Esperienza Giro, a three-day rally across Colorado celebrating the beloved Italian automaker’s 60th birthday.
More than half the participating teams drive various Huracán offspring (first gens, EVOs, Performantes, Tecnicas and even a handful of STOs), but later in the day we will find ourselves in a heated run down Highway 72 towards Aspen following a gorgeous Murcielago—the oldest model on the Giro—the shimmering color of a fairy’s pupils.
We, meanwhile, are behind the wheel of the Sterrato—arguably the most coveted vehicle in this entire supercar cavalcade. The amount of questions and interest received during meals and breaks is off the charts; it’s clearly one of the most fascinating models Sant’Agata has ever conceived.
Imagined for light off-road capability, the Sterrato boasts several modes that allow it to attack pavement and dirt equally, ready at will to spray a churning rooster-tail of earth into the heavens. First, to eliminate dust they sealed off the side vents and moved the air intake to the roof, adding an optional roof rack and twin rally lights to the hood. Then they raised ground clearance by 1.7-inches, and softened the electromagnetic shock absorbers for a more pliant ride—perhaps the most critical adaptation.
The Sterrato offers 25% more travel at the front axle than other Huracáns, and 35% more on the rear. Lastly there’s a new Rally mode adapted from the Urus SUV which unleashes the traction control, allowing this slightly unhinged Huracán variant to drift off road. Plastic cladding along the wheel well and floor boards protect your shiny paint from gravely shenanigans.
I feared this damper suppleness would negatively affect handling, but the Sterrato carved the switchbacks of the Sawatch Range with biting agility. Moreover, this clearance was a boon on these pockmarked roads riddled by snow and salt.
More than once we’d hit a significant dip at speed, and the Sterrato would swallow it with ease—while other drivers complained of scraped noses. Of course at the heart of this wonderfully wild beast a naturally aspirated Lamborghini mill pumps the blood: a high-revving 5.2-liter V10 that reverberates across the valleys like a F1 engine when throttled.
“Only Lamborghini can do something like this, and we were sure it would be a success story,” Stephan Winkelmann told me the day before. Lamborghini’s suave Chairman and CEO (he also held the position between 2005 and 2016) remembers conversations about a potential off-road Huracán during his initial stint leading St. Agata, but when he returned in 2020 they still had not brought it to fruition. “So I said,” Winkelmann recalls, “Now we put it back on track!”
Smart move, as all 1,499 units of the $273,000 (and change) Sterrato sold out immediately. “It’s not only a fun car, but it’s also a very comfortable car,” Winkelmann explains. “And in my opinion it’s even more fun to drive it on the racetrack than off-road, because it drifts a lot and it’s really doing a lot of things which you cannot do with other cars.”
Although at the time the idea of comfort seemed odd, once you’re gripping the Sterrato’s steering wheel and squealing through mountain passes, we can confirm Winkelmann’s claims. I had assumed the Sterrato’s higher clearance would make for a less-stable stance but nothing of the sort—it handles cornering with tight athleticism. Then there are moments on screaming long straights I literally catch myself yelling Yeeee-hawwwww! like the original Duke Brothers leaping a Georgia pond.
The downhill portion post-Independence Pass is one of the most exhilarating moments of the day. Something about the rapid descent from more than 12,000 feet, cutting corners with the speed and weight of gravity, the brilliant handling of the Sterrato leaves the driver smiling like a goof. We rip through unbelievably beautiful roads, passing forests of pine, expansive lakes, bubbling brooks and log houses of every sort from mansions pretending to be cabins, to dilapidated ones that look like something Jeremiah Johnson might have slept in.
As thrilling as the supercar is to navigate, however, some of the most memorable moments of the Esperienza Giro occur when you’re outside of the Sterrato. During coffee breaks where you posse up with some other teams and discuss the last ream of road conquered. Or lunches meeting proud Lamborghini owners of all ages, from every corner of America. Again, it brought back the conversation with Winkelmann.
“A Giro is one of the bricks we have after our customers buy a car, to have an offer which is much more than just owning a Lamborghini—it’s part of a community,” he said during our talk. “I see a lot of customers downstairs who already know each other from other Giros, so you also give them a reason to use the cars. Now this is important, no? It’s what money can’t buy.”
This community building is very real. The day we spoke with the CEO we witnessed several groups meeting at the check-in line of the St. Regis Aspen Resort who not only knew one another, but were giving off the ‘going back to camp’ vibe—that giddy once-a-year excitement of seeing vacation friends, charged by the potential of just what might be in store. They spoke in rapid fire exchanges of a recent Hawaii rally, and one Esperienza Giro dubbed “Journey of Reawakening”: a 700-mile venture across China. Later I would find out some of these were organized by the independent Lamborghini Club, not official Lamborghini Events like the Giros, but the concepts and results are the same.
“This is the point, because it’s not only about selling cars, but it’s giving them a reason to use them, to hang out together,” Winkelmann continues. “This is, in my opinion, even more important than just having a good run with the products because it creates this passion for the cars which only comes by driving them, by hanging out with people who think alike. And also for us to get close to them.”