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Lamborghini’s Nurburgring lap record holder and Porsche’s motorsport homologation special reside in the same garage in Kerala. We take the Lamborghini Huracan Performante and Porsche 911 GT3 up the Wayanad forests
Lamborghini Huracan Performante and Porsche 911 GT3 India does not lack for spectacular, limited-edition, and very special sports cars — as the Lamborghini Huracan Performante and Porsche 911 GT3 you see here will attest. Both are owned by Ashique Thahir and if you think he lives right next door to the Buddh International Circuit or the MMRT in Chennai, think again. Ashique calls Calicut (or Kozhikode) home and, as anyone who has driven through Kerala will be all to familiar with, neither does Kerala have a race track nor is there an expressway. In fact there aren’t even dual carriageways in Kerala, the hilly terrain and heavy population density resulting in extremely congested and narrow roads that literally go from one town or village to another without so much as a pause to sip coconut water. So where can you drive a 630bhp Lamborghini and 493bhp Porsche?
The Wayanad forests are no longer the well kept secret they once were, but they do have fantastic driving roads — as long as it is free of traffic. Which is why we start at 5 in the morning and treat Calicut to a symphony, or cacophony depending on how you react to your sleep being ruined. There’s shrieking overlaid by thundering — a complex overlay of sounds that I desperately lack the talent to put into words. It is unholy. It has the devil’s horns imprinted all over it.
We leave the city and what follows is the hardest and fastest chase I’ve given on a road that doesn’t have six lanes. This is not my first time in a Porsche 911 GT3 but it’s not like I drive a Porsche every day either. Mercifully, Porsche doesn’t do any nonsense. The seats are comfortable, vision is great, and the ergonomics are spot on. You can say the Porsche lacks the drama of the Italians and that is true. But Porsche make cars for you to drive, not spend days trying to figure out where everything is.
This is the 991.2 GT3, based on the previous gen 911 (the new one is the 992, as I’m sure you already know), and its primary purpose is to homologate the aerodynamics and engine parts for race-spec 911s. This is a track car but far from what you’d expect, it works brilliantly on the road.
The ride comfort is unbelievable for such a focused car. You’d expect it to disintegrate your joints but it is far from murder. There’s no need to slow down for bumps — it just stays planted. The Porsche 911 GT3 is a doctorate thesis in body control. It is agile and poised. There are Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, 245/35 on the front and significantly wider 305/30 at the rear, ensuring 493bhp is drilled straight down into the tarmac. The steering that is quite possibly the best power-assisted rack in the world. And this is a fast car — 100kmph in 3.4 seconds, 200kmph in 11.4 seconds and a top speed of 318kmph.
This is a naturally aspirated motor (not turbo charged like all new 911s) and is nearly identical to what you’ll find in a 911 Cup race car. A motor made by motorsport engineers to go racing! It displaces four litres, 200cc more than before, and among the many detail improvements are hydraulic valve adjusters inside a newly-designed head that allows the engine to assault 9000rpm while making an absolutely spectacular sound. And I have to use all 9000rpm in pursuit of the (ex) Nurburgring lap record holder.
Half way up to the hills of Wayanad we stop and swap cars. Ashique points out that the Performante is already in full-power Strada mode and off he goes. And I can tell you that not even a GT3 prepares you for the violence that erupts on full throttle in a Performante. The Porsche is fast but, God, the Lambo has a shrieking, howling and devilish turn of speed. 100kmph? 2.9 seconds. 0-200kmph? 8.9 seconds. Top speed? 325kmph, that number being purely academic today.
Peak revs are 500rpm short of the Porsche 911 GT3’s 9000rpm, the Lambo is a hundred times more brutal, vocal and mental. 8500rpm is full-on explosive. The Performante’s fury is just staggering.
The Huracan’s V10 engine gets a new intake, titanium valves, a lighter and freer-flowing exhaust and power is modestly bumped up to a not-so-modest 630bhp. The Lamborghini Huracan Performante’s ALA (Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva) system is like DRS in a Formula 1 car, switching between low-drag mode and high-downforce as and when you need it. An electric motor in the front spoiler opens flaps that, in high-downforce mode, allows air though it. When ALA is active, the air is diverted under the car thus reducing drag and downforce. At the rear there are ducts beneath the engine cover that open to channel air through the (hollow) wings rather than over it and also aid drag reduction. And the really clever bit is the Performante can do this trick on one side or the other, thus increasing downforce on the inside wheels while giving less drag on the outside for better cornering aero. That results in the Performante’s 6 minutes 52.1 seconds Nurburgring Nordschleife lap record.
In Kerala it works like crazy! While in the GT3 I could feel like I was making the car work, the Lamborghini Huracan Performante corners like on the cliched rails. The lack of body movement, the lack of roll, it is all very unnerving. There is no body roll, no sign of the car approaching its limit. And this car isn’t even on the lap record-setting Trofeo R tyres, Ashique laughing at what he was quoted for those optional tyres. Wise man. On the dry roads there’s no way of getting to the grip limit of these tyres, forget the Trofeo R’s. The enormous mechanical grip of the all-wheel drive powertrain and the aero add-ons means the cornering is always flat with zero fear of understeer.
With the sun nice and bright we veer off NH 766 to a secluded mountain road Ashique has recently discovered and wait for the crew to catch up. I ask Ashique which car wins. He fires the question right back at me.
The GT3 had me smiling the widest possible smile without my teeth falling out. In the Performante I laughed like I’d smoked the herbs that are said to grow in these hills. Bottom line is it is impossible to choose. So if you can afford it you buy both!