Big tyre-treads to fill: the Lamborghini Huracan.
It's called the Huracán – a name that isn't anything to do with the weather – and it is replacing the most successful Lamborghini of all time, the Gallardo.
Between 2003 and the end of 2013, more than 14,000 Gallardo coupes and convertibles were sold.
Though that number would be a blip for a Toyota or Ford, the Gallardo is a monstrously powerful and monstrously expensive Italian supercar. The range, on this market at least, started at about $400,000.
The Huracan's rear profile is softer and 'more feminine' than some of the company's other designs.
More significantly, that 14,000 total represents half of all the Lamborghinis ever built since the company started operations way back in 1963.
The man given the high-pressure job of shaping the follow-up – on sale in Australia soon – is Filippo Perini, head of the “Centro Stile” design department at Lamborghini headquarters in Sant'Agata, Italy.
He spoke about the challenges of replacing a car he insists “will always look new”.
A typically driver-focused cockpit awaits.
“The Gallardo is an icon,” he said, “but, still, we were sure we had to look for a new design language.
“The silhouette is the same, more or less: only one line which merges the front with the cockpit and the rear. Everything is connected: front-middle and rear.
“But it is more extreme and aggressive than the Gallardo.”
He says the new surface treatment is known as “liquid reflection”.
“The light is running in a very sensual way. That's what we do when we design, we check the reflection, not the beauty of the surface.”
The sharp-edged newcomer is different to the Gallardo, he says, in that it has convex and concave surfaces. Even the roof has a web of different lines.
“We are aiming to get three dimensions in a very flat surface. Elsewhere too there are many lines in the car, but there is always a continuity.”
He says influences on modern Lamborghini design come from architecture (“where there is a clear trend towards diamond surface treatment”), the Italian Futurist movement, modern Milanese art, origami and various angular and hexagonal shapes found in nature, such as crystals and inside beehives.
Perini also acknowledges the inspiration of artist Lucio Fontana, famous for slashing his canvases. “We like that,” he says succinctly.
Many of the modern Lamborghini design cues were first seen in the flagship Lamborghini Aventador coupe, styled under Perini's direction and launched in late 2011.
They were amplified in more recent and even more outrageous Lambos, such as the Egoista concept and ultra-limited edition Veneno.
Just three Venenos were built, one each in green, white and red, in honour of the Italian flag. They were priced at over 3 million euros ($4.4 million) each.
Although the Huracán renders some of the new themes more subtly (in Lamborghini's terms, of course), it has complex design details from front to rear, with quite a few homages to models of the past as well.
Perini says a big influence was the Countach of the 1970s and 1980s, while there is a little of the legendary 1960s Miura in the rear-end treatment.
Softly spoken but passionate, he talks me through from the Huracán nose (designed to look predatory and to emphasise the width, which is nearly two metres), to side windows “set into the flanks like gemstones”, to rear haunches shaped to look a little softer and more feminine that the front of the car.
It all ends with a “pure supercar” tail. Perini describes the Huracán approach as “extreme and usable”.
A test of the design success, he says, is to cover the badges. “It must be recognisable.” To that end, it certainly couldn't be anything other than a new generation Lamborghini.
For many years the company's cars were styled by Bertone, the famous Italian design house (with Ferraris by rival Pininfarina).
The in-house “Centro Stile” was set up in 2004 and although Perini says “we are now the owners of our identity”, he adds there remains Bertone DNA in the styling.
The first Huracán sold here – an all-wheel drive coupe known as the LP610-4 – will cost $428,000 plus on-road costs.
Power comes from a mid-mounted V10 with 448 kW (or 610 bhp, hence the LP610-4 model designation), linked to a seven-speed dual-clutch automated transmission.
According to factory figures, it will accelerate to 100 km/h in just 3.2 seconds, and hit a top speed of 325.
The structure incorporates aluminium and composite sections to keep weight down.
The car's name honours a famous fighting bull, in the Lamborghini naming tradition. Huracán fought with apparent verve in August 1879 (it wasn't a long career, understandably).
A rear-drive Huracán will almost certainly follow, as well as a roadster, and no doubt higher-performance versions in the longer term.
I ask about the philosophical difference in design between a Ferrari and a Lamborghini.
“We share nothing,” Perini says emphatically. “Our treatment of surfaces is completely different.”
Perini was born in Piacenza, Italy, and studied engineering and design in Milan.
He worked on freelance projects for Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Ferrari and others before joining Alfa full-time in 1995.
There he rose to director of exterior design and styled the much admired 8C Competizione concept.
In 2004 he took the top styling job at Lamborghini via a short stint at Audi (both brands are part of the VW Group; indeed Audi will base its next R8 model on the Huracán, replacing the current Gallardo-based R8).
So what cars inspired the young Perini on his journey to securing one of the most coveted jobs in the styling world?
“That is easy. I am a big fan of Franco Scaglione, the designer of the first Lamborghini, the 350 GT.
“My favourite cars are the Alfa 33 Stradale [also designed by Scaglione], the Lamborghini Miura, the Ford GT40 and the Jaguar E-Type.
“They are all from the 1960s, which was the peak of beauty and freedom for car design. These cars were all inspired by racing and that's what we like, because you can see the functionality.
“I tell all our designers to be designers, to know the functionality of every part of the car. Beauty is something that works.”
In a dream assignment for an admirer of the Miura, one of Perini's first jobs at Lamborghini was to work on the 2006 Miura, a concept car built to mark the 40th anniversary of the original.
“It was something religious,” he said of working with those lines.
The new Miura was widely praised, but management was insistent that retro was not the way forward for the brand.
“I was disappointed [it didn't go into production],” Perini said, “but we continue to dream.”
This story originally appeared in the Australian Financial Review's Luxury magazine.