2015 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4

It was probably the best headache I've ever had in my life. A spicy combination of Lamborghini's superlative new 2015 Huracán LP 610-4, fast-as-you-can-drive laps of the tricky Ascari race circuit, 80 kilometers of the Ronda Road and a healthy dose of southern Spanish sun had left me with a bit of a pounder. That cocktail of speed and noise had also granted me one of the best days of driving in my life.

As an encore to Gallardo, the single most successful Lamborghini model in history, and following on the heels of the most profitable era the company has ever known, the stakes for this Huracán could hardly be higher. What's more, considering that stablemate Avendator hasn't exactly come in for universal praise (despite its unquestionable commercial success), I flew to Spain with a small pit of doubt in my generally buoyant heart. Could Huracán possibly let me down?

It could, maybe. But it didn't. This is a car that most assuredly lives up to the hype, and is fully worthy of wearing the crown won for it by the outgoing Gallardo. Sorry for the spoiler.

A couple of aspirin, rehydration and a few minibar cervezas later, my headache was more or less forgotten. But the drive of this heartthrob Huracán is something that I'd keep with me for a lot longer.

2015 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-42015 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-42015 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4

This is a wide, low and powerful object that has been shaped by the fast-moving wind.

In nearly every instantiation since the Countach, Lamborghini design has tickled sensational far more often than sensuous. That is to say the brand isn't afraid of taking chances with the sheetmetal of its super sports cars. Still, there's been a huge gulf between relatively simple shapes like that of the Gallardo and the crazy origami of unsubtle Aventador, or the truly outrageous Veneno. This blade-sharp family aesthetic has been attractively blunted with Huracán, however, with hard creases and razor edges discarded in favor of the softest wedge Sant'Agata has produced since the idiom's inception.

Lamborghini President and CEO Stephan Winkelmann (himself somewhat of a style icon for the tight trousers set), told us his brief for the design was that it be "clear[ly] a classic Lamborghini." And head of design Filippo Perini delivered on this in my view, shaping Huracán to be "a little bit more female than male" in his words, while still being, "very simple, but very, very aggressive."

Considered in the context of all Lamborghini design history, I think the Huracán's visage is almost subtle, though it'll still drop jaws in whichever public places it's driven. I'm especially fond of the taut rear of the car, where Perini and team worked to clean up the aero drastically versus the Gallardo, achieving 50-percent more downforce and lowering drag without resorting to the use of active aerodynamic aids. But walk around the Huracán and you'll be pressed to find a single design element that doesn't enhance the message that this is a wide, low and powerful object that has been shaped by the fast-moving wind.

2015 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-42015 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-42015 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-42015 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4

Kicking to life the 5.2-liter V10 is the automotive equivalent of prepping a missile launch.

At six-foot five, there's nothing remotely natural about my getting in and out of that very low slung door. But when I did fold up and bend myself inside, the confines I found were unquestionably more aggressive of design than the exterior. I had heard plenty of mumbled nitpicking about the Huracán interior from my journalist colleagues (most focused on the "tacked on" appearance of the hexagonal air vents), but to me it seems like a video-game-car cockpit made real. The center stack pulls off the 'fighter jet' motif better than most sports cars with similar aspirations – a row of metal toggle switches impressively crowning a few choice buttons from the desirable Audi parts bin.

Alcantara and leather has been attractively stretched over carbon-fiber bucket seats (lighter, firmer optional chairs that are manually adjustable and very low set), and similar buttery hides have been contrast-stitched into place over nearly every other surface in the intimate cabin. Even on a hot track, with rubber being fragrantly atomized just yards away, my first dip into the Huracán driver's seat smelled a lot like walking into a Salvatore Ferragamo flagship store.

Still, the most attractive piece in the whole cabin has got to be the hexagonal, red, flip-up panel that guards the ignition's start/stop button. The item is straight from Hollywood central casting for an advanced military weapon; appropriate, as kicking to life the Huracán's 5.2-liter V10 is the automotive equivalent of prepping a missile launch.

2015 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-42015 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-42015 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-42015 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4

The sensation made in one's chest when calling up full power makes the numbers seem irrelevant.

Slotted into my perfect driving position (with only millimeters to spare in every dimension), my first go with the V10 "power unit" was on a full-chat lead-follow run around the meandering Ascari racetrack. Even having driven many machines with similar power, and countless laps of circuits all over the world, keeping pace by the grace of this quick-revving engine was every bit as intimidating as it was enthralling, at least for the first session.

Lamborghini has improved the throttle tip-in speed vis-à-vis Gallardo, with the result being instant response from even the most tender of right-foot flexes. Coming out of pit lane and into the first complex of turns, I was immediately aware of how quickly the rpms would spin-up the digital tachometer. It took but an eye blink before I found myself pulling the right paddle for an upshift; quick enough that I'll admit to hitting the rev limiter (just over the 8,250 rpm power peak) on a few occasions.

As those revs piled on, the bucolic Spanish surroundings went blurry in my periphery, with the V10 monster behind my head delivering gobs of energy to four boiling contact patches. Coming through a left-hander and onto Ascari's back straight, with my size-13 Puma mashing the throttle to the carpet, acceleration from about 60 miles per hour, up to 120 or so, was maniacal. Lamborghini quotes a time of 9.9 seconds to reach 200 kilometers per hour (124 mph) from a standstill, but the sensation made in one's chest when calling up full power makes those numbers seem irrelevant.

2015 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4

Switching into Corsa creates the feeling of driving a completely new car.

It's fair to mention here that though the V10 is the outright star of the mechanical show, Huracán's new seven-speed dual clutch gearbox is excellent. Lamborghini Doppia Frizione, or "LDF" in company parlance, allows for exceptionally speedy up and down shifts in manual mode, and offers excellent shift logic in automatic mode, as well. It took me a bit of fiddling around before the procedure for engaging gears started to feel natural – foot on brake, pull right paddle to engage first, pull both paddles to find neutral, or grab the tunnel-mounted lever to find reverse – but it's not rocket science.

LDF response and shift programming changes dramatically, too, depending on which of three drive modes you've selected by way of Huracán's new ANIMA system. ANIMA is both the Italian word for "soul" and an acronym for Adaptive Network Intelligent MAnagement. It not only regulates shift logic, it also calibrates engine response, steering speed, all-wheel-drive settings, and the stiffness of the magnetorheological dampers. That's a lot of systems to configure with the flick of a central switch on the steering wheel, and the good news is that Lamborghini engineers have done a masterful job of calibrating them for a wide swath of driving types and skill levels (though drivers preferring personalization of settings might be miffed).

Strada, Sport and Corsa comprise the three ANIMA modes, with Strada being the tamest and Corsa the most aggressive. Now, multi-mode systems are nothing new, but Lamborghini's latest take on the genre may offer the most diversity of experience over just three ranges. I'm used to swapping modes and hearing and exhaust note pick up, or feeling a traction control system loosen, but the gulf between ANIMA modes is far more dramatic than most.

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Strada cossets you around the track, like a billionaire baby in a howling, green bassinette. Corsa treats you like a grown-ass man.

After taking a few laps to catch my bearings on Ascari's 13 right-hand turns and 13 lefts, I started to toggle between driving modes to see what sort of change would be wrought. Strada means "street," so it's appropriate that I found it a bit out of whack for hard track lapping. The transmission shifts up too quickly, the traction control kills too much power, and the driving experience on a circuit is generally a bit tamped down. One can still drive fast and smoothly in Strada mode, but you'll feel the Huracán doing a lot of the work for you.

Switching into Corsa essentially creates the feeling of driving a completely new car. The hardest-core mode immediately caused the suspension to stiffen under me, and for the traction programming to care a lot less about saving my bacon after overcooking things into a fast turn. With a louder exhaust and much more sensitive go pedal, too, I got in over my head on more than a few occasions with Corsa engaged. I loved it. One gets a real sense of the balance and mechanical grip inherent in the Huracán here, along with a better appreciation for just how much power is being deployed to the ground. The all-wheel-drive system will work amazingly well to power you through a corner exit, but drivers will have to be smart enough not to overwork the system (and the front tires) with unchecked entrance speed. Where Strada cossets you around the track, like a billionaire baby in a howling, green bassinette, Corsa treats you like a grown-ass man.

With that said, all of my quickest laps came with the aid of Lamborghini's happy middle mode. Sport allows for the ultra stiff chassis (with a rigid carbon-fiber central section) to shine, and for the rear of the Huracán to feel fairly loose and progressive through corners, but with just enough intervention to clean up my sloppy moments. As an added bonus, when driving on a world-class public road like I did on my run back from Ascari to Marbella, Sport seemed to offer the best calibrations for real-world fast driving.

2015 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4

I found it to be a fun, not intimidating way to charge down a mountain road.

And, let's face it, Lamborghini may sell most Huracán examples to preening owners with little taste for track time. But most buyers will be interested in quickly dispatching a curvy section of their weekend drive.

After the adrenaline-stoked morning at Ascari, it was the all-too-short return route along the Ronda road that revealed just how subtle and joyful Huracán can be. For all that this is a serious weapon in a competition setting, I found it to be a fun, not intimidating way to charge down a mountain road, too.

One big reason for that sense of amusement is the high level of tactility available through the all-new steering wheel. Whereas my previous experience with Gallardos had left me a little cold on the steering feel front, Huracán was impressive in terms of providing great feedback to go along with precise control at all speeds. Snaking switchbacks and compound curves called out the quickness of turn-in and a great ability to change direction nippily, things that don't always go hand in hand with a thickly tired sports car. I was somewhat shocked at how lithe and nimble the Huracán felt during the over-the-road portion of my experience, and repeatedly thrilled with sensation coming through the flat-bottomed steering wheel in my hands.

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Fast cars and perfect roads – this is why we drive.

If you look closely at that wheel, you'll notice that Lamborghini has gone a long ways towards putting all of the highest-use controls right there at your fingertips. That means high beams, windshield wipers, turn signals and (soon) cruise control are all available to activate within the span of a thumb. In other words: Lamborghini would like to make sure drivers have no excuse to take their hands off the steering wheel.

On the road and moving through traffic, I found the wheel-based system fairly easy to adjust to in short order, but am not completely sold that this re-invention is quite necessary. Sure, not having a wiper or blinker stalk does a great job of uncluttering the view of Huracán's 12.3-inch, massively configurable TFT display, but it's more finicky than using the same kinds of controls we've all become used to over years of driving.

The mild annoyance of finding the turn signal switch was all but forgotten for most of my time on Ronda road, however, as it was largely drowned out in the flat, stunning bellow of the Huracán engine and exhaust. With the cascading surfaces of mountain ledges and quickly passed cars to bounce off of, the throaty song of one of the world's greatest naturally aspirated engines provided fleeting evidence that life can be truly beautiful. Fast cars and perfect roads – this is why we drive.

2015 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4

There's nothing at all like a Lamborghini once you've driven one.

Some guys have their switches flipped by the all-out attack of track driving in a supercar like this, but I've always found the rhythms of fully focused street driving to be more satisfying. In this Lamborghini, with the afternoon sunlight casting mythic shadows over Andalusian valleys, I think I touched the core of the experience that Huracán is passionately selling. The company knows it has something special on its hands with this one.

That swagger came to the fore when Winkelmann was asked to describe the competition for Huracán, and responded simply: "ourselves." Hell, I'd be cocky if this was the car I was charged with selling, too. Lamborghini will get a minimum of $237,250 for each example sold in the US, which opens the model up to competition from exotics on all fronts, while also narrowing the list of buyers to one-percenters that love fast things. Ferrari's 458 Italia is still the closest thing to a blood rival for Huracán, while McLaren, Porsche and Bentley all make super-fast coupes that compete in the same rare price and performance space. Let's face it, you can't make a terrible choice if you're willing to spend a quarter of a million dollars in the 600-horsepower-plus 'niche'. Still, I'd argue that the Lamborghini badge delivers something no other exotic can offer; a concoction of tech, machismo and motive art.

And, of course, there's nothing at all like a Lamborghini once you've driven one. Nothing so evocative, so sexual or so unrepentant in the way it devours the road. Huracán captures all of this, and seems a mortal lock to become the new best-selling Lamborghini as a result of it. It's not only a worthy Gallardo successor; it's a magnificent one. I'll trade time behind the wheel for a cracking headache any time Lamborghini is offering up the keys.