The low-slung vehicle shook as it sped along a gravelly, rutted road in the California desert. Behind my head, I could hear the roar of the 10-cylinder engine. I was driving the $380,000 Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato and couldn't stop laughing.
On a road such as this in an area like this I could only reach 40 miles per hour, but 40 felt like racing. I avoided tufts that were reaching out along the side of a path normally used by pickup trucks. Lamborghini makes an SUV called the Urus in which this would have all felt normal. This was not normal. The bushes that I saw were larger than the wedge-shaped car's roof.
The Sterrato sits about 1.75 inches above the ground compared to a Huracan and is about 1.3 inches wide with its large fender flares. It's a little wider at the back than the wheels. Aluminum shielding is used to protect the underside of a car's pointed nose.
The Huracan Sterrato, whose name means "dirt road", has an air intake on the roof that allows clean air to reach the engine. Lamborghini and Bridgestone created tires with rubber that is similar to the other Lamborghini performance tires but with an off road tread.
The loudest noise was the continuous rattling of gravel off the underside of the Lamborghini. Yes, I have driven expensive supercars over gravel roads before. Usually to position the car for a video or photo shoot. It was always a cringe-worthy operation. I would crawl along at a single-digit speed for fear that a small stone kicked up from a tire could scratch the paint.
Not this time. Lamborghini told me I could take the lizard green Huracan Sterrato wherever I wanted. So I did. I did.
The most fun I had in years.
The same car I was driving had been driven on the Chuckwalla Valley Raceway, about 15 miles from my home. There, I had driven the same car at triple-digit speeds through the twisting asphalt on a dirt track, sliding through curves while the tires spray dark brown soil in the air.
Ferruccio Lamborghini, a tractor maker, founded his car company 60 years ago, almost exactly to the day. He wanted to show Ferrari what cars should be made. Here I was, looking at the car and listening for rattlesnakes. It was also the most Lamborghini car I had ever seen.
Lamborghini designers and engineers were drinking beer after driving off-road with a prototype Urus SUV. They thought it was great fun but wouldn't it be better to drive one of our supercars with all-wheel-drive off-road?
The engineers made a prototype from an old Huracan, mostly for fun. Lamborghini executives decided to make it available for those who can afford the $273,000 price tag. The car I was in had almost $110,000 worth of options. Half of those were body paint.
You can still win if you are willing to take a chance. There are orders for 1,499 Huracan Sterratos that Lamborghini is building. I would never do it, but I understand.
Other car brands would have laughed at this as it didn't fit their image. Lamborghini, thankfully, understands that fun is the ultimate goal. Few things can bring out a smile more than a supercar slinging dirt around.
The Sterrato was released around the time of Porsche's 911 Dakar - a similar lifted sports car. Lamborghini claims that this is just a coincidence, despite the fact that both brands are part of the Volkswagen Group. Both brands are at the extremes of off-roading, with everything from Subaru's knobby tires Wilderness models to Honda Trailsport SUVs. It seems that in the past few years, people have decided to get away from civilization.
While driving through canyons of ochre, I thought that Wile E.Coyote should buy this instead of useless Acme products. It's perfect for the job. It is fast, agile and can go anywhere.
The Sterrarto is a fast, smooth, and quiet car on asphalt. Its V10 engine noise, however, does not interfere with the driving experience. Sterrato offers three driving modes, selected via a small paddle on the steering. The Sterrato has three driving modes: Strada for normal driving, Sport and Rally for off-road usage.
This car doesn't have the Corsa mode that other Lamborghini Supercars offer. I think the trade-off is fine. I'll accept a slightly lower track performance to be able to blast down a dusty path. The people who purchase this car, will no doubt have other Lamborghinis at home, so they are really giving up nothing.
Lamborghini Huracan sterrato is a car that even those who cannot afford it should be grateful for. In an industry that is ruled by brand image consultants and accountants, it is a delight to see something exist just for the sake of being fun.