The Lamborghini Countach, one of the automaker’s most famous products, got its name from the Piedmontese vulgarity "contacc," which literally means “contagion” but is now used to describe a person or thing of breathtaking beauty. If you believe legendary factory driver Valentino Balboni, the name stuck when Lambo engineers pulled the sheets off of a development mule, prompting a security guard in the room to take in its outrageous design and unconsciously utter, "Ah, countach!"
Four decades later, I found myself uttering a whole bunch of other expletives in reference to the 2024 Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato. Powered by a naturally aspirated, 602-horsepower V10, the Sterrato builds on the Huracan via a 1.7-inch suspension lift, wider front and rear track, and – wait for it – Bridgestone Dueler all-terrain tires. The primary benefit of those tweaks is excellent performance in the dirt, as well as improved around-town comfort and still-impressive cornering prowess on the tarmac. But the only thing you’ll be thinking when you drift the Sterrato through the desert sand is, "Ah, Countach!"
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|2024 Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato
|602 Horsepower / 413 Pound-Feet
|3.4 Seconds (est.)
Gallery: 2024 Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato First Drive Review
The 2024 Sterrato is a totally different animal, design-wise, than its siblings. The taller stance and knobby tires are given since it’s intended to be an off-road supercar, with a roof-mounted air intake providing clean, dust-free air to the engine. Its placement and routing erase any view out the rear window, but the Sterrato looks so cool that such practical matters are immaterial. And a pair of driving lights on the nose (an addition to make the off-roader legal for rally competition) take the same hexagonal shape as the exhaust outlet and air intake, giving the Sterrato a cohesive design in spite of its wacky extensions and alterations.
If I had a complaint, it’d be the exposed hardware on the off-road lights and fender flares – this is a Lamborghini, after all, not a Ram 1500 that had a date with the JC Whitney catalog. Even so, the design alterations from Huracan to Sterrato are functional, distinctive, and just a bit juvenile. What more could you want from the Raging Bull?
Inside, the standard Huracan’s flat-bottom steering wheel, chunky aluminum shift paddles, and missile-launch start button give it enough flair, so Sterrato changes are minor. Thinly padded, lightweight racing bucket seats come standard on the off-road special, as does "Sterrato Verde" Alcantara upholstery on the chairs, dashboard, door panels, and headliner. A foreboding Rally marking on the drive mode selector replaces the Corsa setting, providing a clear indication of the Sterrato’s intended use case. Oh, and there’s also the massive integrated roll cage dominating the rear-view mirror’s reflection.
Cabin comfort is, uh, not phenomenal. At 6 feet tall and with a 32-inch inseam, I’m right at the upper limit of what the Huracan can accommodate – my taller co-driver had to slouch down in his seat to give his noggin enough space, which then forced his legs to splay out on either side of the steering wheel. But thanks to the taller ride and longer-travel suspension, the Sterrato has a smooth, well-damped ride on broken pavement, and abundant ground clearance makes it much less intimidating to drive over speed bumps and on steep driveways.
A Little Less Conversation…
But although the off-road Huracan is arguably a better daily driver than its siblings, none of the 1,499 customers who snapped it up are likely to care about such pedestrian matters. So with their needs sympathetically in mind, I took it on myself to give the Sterrato a thorough wringing-out on the snaking roads that surround Palm Springs.
In aggressive on-road driving, it should come as no surprise that the Sterrato isn’t quite as buttoned down as other members of the Huracan family. For starters, the off-road special’s 5.2-liter V10 makes "just" 602 hp and 413 pound-feet, compared to 631 and 442 for the rest of the lineup. At 3,507 pounds, the Sterrato is also about 100 pounds heavier than the all-wheel-drive Evo, and it has a higher center of gravity. But in spite of a spec chart that looks comparatively meager, the Sterrato is a sweetheart of a car to drive quickly on a winding canyon road.
Its slightly downrated power notwithstanding, the Sterrato makes all the right noises when being pushed hard, with prodigious thrust coming online at about 4,000 rpm and lasting all the way to the V10’s 8,500-rev redline. The column-mounted shift paddles take control of an instantaneously reactive seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which oblige each high-rpm upshift with a snarling bark befitting a supercar. And there’s plenty of snap-crackle-pop on overrev to ensure that engine braking and deceleration are as much fun as flooring it away from a stoplight.
Despite lower absolute cornering limits, the Huracan Sterrato still handles confidently. The weight balance is biased rearward, with 57 percent riding on the rear axle, so turn-in is instant and responsive, with all four wheels transmitting plenty of info to your fingertips and backside. Get on the throttle too early and the front end goes a little floaty – likely a function of the all-terrain rubber and higher stance – but the car gives you plenty of warning before you overdo it. Ease off the throttle and the nose tucks right back in.
Dust, Road, Passion
That approachable, accessible on-road behavior portended great things as the drive route took a convoy of Sterrati toward Chuckwalla Raceway, where Lamborghini had prepared a 2.3-mile rally special stage that was half deep silt and half pristine tarmac. The wind had picked up by the time we arrived, making the bleak landscape even less hospitable. And yet, the siren call of the Sterrato was too sweet to ignore. Let’s f—ing go!
Since I had limited time behind the wheel, my driving instructor wasted none of it getting me up to speed. Almost as soon as I had the seat positioned properly, he was egging me on to push the car harder and faster. The first three corners of the course were paved and the Sterrato handled much like I expected given my experience on the road, but once we got to the special part of this special stage, the fun started in earnest. So did the swearing – hopefully my mom didn’t have access to a radio that day.
Despite lower absolute cornering limits, the Huracan Sterrato still handles confidently.
The Sterrato-specific Rally drive mode allows generous slip angles and plenty of sand-scrambling wheelspin, turning the dirty Lambo into a fearsome, snarling monster with grip and power in spades. Tap the brakes early to transfer weight forward, then hammer down on the throttle to break the rear end loose and slide through the corner sideways. Do it right and the Huracan is eminently controllable and involving; do it wrong and you’ll still have a pretty dang good time, since Rally’s stability settings work almost imperceptibly to flatter you into thinking you’ve strung it all together perfectly.
A huge part of the car’s performance comes down to the rubber. The Huracan Sterrato rides on specially designed Bridgestone Dueler all-terrain tires, which use the same basic structure of the Potenza Sport tire but with a knobby, robust tread pattern and compound designed for dirt, instead of asphalt. The result is soft and squishy rubber that provides incredible traction on the silty Chuckwalla rally stage, with progressive behavior on the pavement making it a cinch to powerslide the Lambo through Chuckwalla’s wide, paved, late-apex final turn. This is a car meant to have fun above all, prioritizing grins above lap times.
Go Fast, Don’t Die
Driving a supercar fast is an addictive experience, but as with so many of life’s illicit pleasures, there’s always some risk involved as you get closer to that bleeding edge. And yet somehow, driving the Huracan Sterrato on dirt provides abundant and involving thrills while also feeling surefooted and safe, with plenty of room for me to make a mistake, get back on track, and keep on pushing hard. It might be a new high-water mark for me in terms of driving fun, and it all happened at freeway speed at best.
Of course, that apex of driving enjoyment isn’t going to come cheap. The Huracan Sterrato starts at $278,972, but if you haven’t already put your name on the list, don’t bother asking your financial planner to free up the funds. All 1,499 examples of the Sterrato have already been spoken for, and such a limited, high-performance special is sure to appreciate on the used-car market.
Knowing this was likely the only opportunity I’ll ever have to drive the Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato, I made sure to sear the memories into my brain as best I could. Gabriel’s-trumpet intake howl. The odd-firing exhaust rasp. Plumes of dust cascading over the front end and across the windshield. Grinning and steering through the side windows, both on the dirt and when I mucked up yet another late apex. My instructor beckoning me to push the car harder, to trust the robust skid plates, to lighten up and have more fun.
2024 Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato