The Lamborghini Huracán Sterrato is the culmination of a series of one-off teases and concepts Lamborghini has been dangling in front of enthusiasts for years: a high riding, knobby-tired, off-road-ready take on the car that’s helped Lamborghini increase its market share by leaps and bounds over the last few years. It’s one of the most insane Lambos I’ve ever seen, and considering some of the bonkers production vehicles that have come out of Sant’Agata, Italy, in the past, that’s saying something,
Coupling the knowledge gained in developing the Urus SUV — much of the Urus’ team pivoted to the Sterrato (“dirt road”) — with a mid-engined supercar has culminated in a supercar-slash-dune-buggy that has the chops to obliterate both the warm tarmac at the Chuckwalla raceway in central California, and the desert that surrounds it.
To enable it to do so, Lamborghini has softened the dampers, lengthened the springs, and added some reinforced plastic underbody protection. Now, you’re looking at just under seven inches of ground clearance. Add a set of plastic fender flares and optional front rally lights plus Bridgestone Dueler AT002 tires, developed specifically for the Sterrato, wrapped with special 19-inch wheels, and it points to the Sterrato being much more than smoke and mirrors.
The Sterrato has been built to conquer fast fine gravel and sand, not ultra-choppy off-road trails. As a result, chief technical officer, Rouven Mohr, and his team didn’t have to add a load of heavy chassis modifications to make the Sterrato excel in its intended environment.
“The biggest thing was to find the perfect balance,” said Mohr. “We’re always coming from the street side and doing as much on the off-road side as needed, but as little as possible, because we didn’t want to lose the character of the car.”
What you feel as soon as you set off in the Sterrato is a supercar that, thanks to a softer chassis setup, is much more usable on everyday roads. Speed bumps are more easily dispatched, while road imperfections (including potholes) and steep driveways aren’t as much of a problem. Since Lamborghini worked so closely with Bridgestone, the tires aren’t as loud as you might expect, considering their offroad-ready tread pattern. Bridgestone says it delivered a tweaked tire compound and precision sipes (slits) for more traction on the rougher stuff, as well as a W-rating for a top speed of 270 km/h, a first on a production car.
Power from the 5.2-litre, V10 is rated at 602 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque, enough to have the Sterrato grab you and slam you into the seatback, whether on the track or the trail.
Lamborghini has recalibrated the perfectly-named Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo system, which decides which axle gets the most torque (motive power). With lighter throttle inputs, more power is sent rearwards to get the tail swinging, then gets bumped forward to help control the drift.
The result is a midengined supercar that is a master-class on just how far you can take things.
It all sounds fantastic on paper; it’s truly mind-boggling just how well it works in practice.
Lamborghini turned Chuckwalla into both a dirt and tarmac track, mimicking a world rally stage involving both surfaces on a single run.
In “sport,” the Sterrato feels almost exactly like the EVO AWD (all-wheel-drive) version with which it’s most closely linked. Power comes on absolutely immediately, the naturally-aspirated V10 sending the needles spinning ’round to the 8,500 RPM redline in a hurry.
You have to be quick with the enormous shift paddles to stay on top of this thing.
It will get away from you.
The car does all this with no shortage of drama. Imagine the banshee howl a naturally aspirated V10 makes as it hollers its way to the redline. Forward progress is so fast — a 0-97 km/h sprint takes just 3.4 seconds — you’d have no idea you were in something off-roady.
While you start to feel the slightly higher centre of gravity and softened suspension through the bends, a good Sterrato driver will learn to use these to their advantage for an even more engaging drive.
They built this car for the driver to have some fun.
On the slippery stuff, the Sterrato is almost telepathic in its execution. Transitioning from the tarmac to the dirt, you flip the wheel-mounted drive mode button to “rally,” and it’s almost as if the car starts thinking for you, and drifts start happening without you even realizing it.
This is where the Sterrato differs from the offroad-ready Porsche 911 Dakar, a car it will inevitably be compared with. As I found out when I drove one, the Dakar is an absolute riot in the sand. Compared to the Sterrato, it feels more serious. Having won the Paris-Dakar Rally outright twice, the Porsche has a reputation to uphold: excelling in a vast array of off-road conditions.
With the Sterrato, Lambo hasn’t set out to build another Dakar. “The intention was not to be an off-road Huracán where you can climb (rocks),” says Mohr.
They engineers have built a supercar that can cover just that much more ground and put ear-to-ear grins on the driver and any onlookers.
2024 Lamborghini Huracán Sterrato
Type: Two-door, performance coupe, mid-engine/all-wheel drive
Engine: 5.2-litre V10, 602 hp, 413 lbs.-ft. of torque
Fuel economy: N/A
Transmission: Seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic
Cargo: 100 litres, or 3.53 cubic feet