Lamborghini Urus super SUV officially unveiled in China
Lamborghini has told us repeatedly that it wasn't planning on doing such a thing anytime soon. We expected most likely the front-engine four-door super sedan – playing off the 2008 Estoque showcar and 1968-'78 Espada – to become the raging bull's third model line.
Feast your eyes on the Lamborghini Urus, or "LB736." First off, yes, it is part of an upcoming (i.e. sometime in 2015) Volkwagen Group premium SUV onslaught. In the company of Lamborghini design director Filippo Perini and research and development guru Maurizio Reggiani, we were able to pry into all of the details back in mid-March during a special preview at company headquarters. We've had to hold off scribbling until today because the official debut for the edgy 4x4 happens right about now at the Beijing Motor Show. China is foreseen as a good market for the supersonic SUV, but the United States remains Job One.
In comparison to the clumsy Bentley EXP 9 F concept seen at the recent Geneva Motor Show, the Urus hits us almost gleefully by comparison; it's right on the money with Lambo's current design language. Lamborghini's Perini understands that this is a polarizing proposition: "When Lamborghini creates a whole new model line, it's automatically risky since it doesn't happen so often."
And we were nervous about it, too, imagining a four-seater setup that would need to ride way too high, sort of like the first generation Porsche Cayenne or that Bentley. But when the veil came off and the hard lights hit it, we were pleased.
Lamborghini president and CEO Stephan Winkelmann started the proceedings by saying that though the two-door supersport sector is still going well, due to so many new entries coming out nowadays and new buyer preferences, the forecast is for a steady small decline year-on-year in demand for these cars. Specifically, two-door sports cars with over 400 horsepower and costing over $100,000.
So they're going a different way, following an upward trending graph: a 4x4 super SUV with just over 600 horsepower, stretching over eight inches longer than an Aventador and about four inches longer than a BMW X6 M, and certainly costing somewhere within reach of $200,000+ by the time you get it home. With projected volume in a full year of 3,000 Uruses (or "Uri"?), Lamborghini, its immediate warden Audi, and mothership Volkswagen Group, are all no doubt drooling over the potential profits the Urus represents. It will singlehandedly triple total annual production.
Current press information released on the Urus is deliberately vague as the launch is not set until 2015, so there is still time to decide the powertrain. Given that the promise is to make it the most powerful series production SUV on the market but also the least polluting so far as carbon dioxide emissions are concerned, either a V10 or V12 engine would seem a heck of a challenge. By the time of production start, many European high-performance cars will need to be able to emit no more than 200 grams of CO2 per kilometer when running most efficiently. And looking at the sharply sloping front end, we're unsure whether there would be enough room to hold either ten or twelve cylinders.
Talk is in the air about a new forced-air (bi-turbo or supercharged) V8 engineered within the vast workshops of the VW Group. Engineer Reggiani was rather sly about this suggestion when we brought it up, but with these packaging and emissions goals it definitely would make sense to at least seriously consider the idea. In fact, Reggiani and Winkelmann attest that with this new model the company will take more advantage of "group synergies". Does this mean some variation of hybrid drive or maybe even a take on Audi's e-tron thinking? And, no, there is no chance of a monster diesel.
A key ingredient for any Lamborghini in optimizing matters for speed and handling, as well as various efficiencies, is managing weight and rigidity through composite materials formed in-house. The Urus will certainly be loaded with this stiff lightness and Lamborghini claims it saves almost 250 pounds versus metal and adds tremendous bending stiffness. The chassis, body, and for the first time in the segment the interior as well, will be optimized for lightness. As the concept interior unveiled in Beijing shows, every element seems to be floating in place. How much of this spectacle it can keep down the road is to be decided.
We know from conversations at Lamborghini that the steering will be electro-mechanical, the range of travel adjustment on the suspension will be 3.5 inches, and by the time of production weight distribution will be as close to 50:50 fore:aft as possible. The mondo wheelset right now for showing purposes is a custom set of 24-inchers in an aero design. Currently, the Urus wears nasty-bad Pirelli Scorpion Zero tires measuring a big 305/35 ZR24 (112W). We are assuming the wheel-tire setup will be able to get more supple for passenger comfort by 2015.
And by the time of customer deliveries – 50 percent of which is projected for the U.S. – those fancy side-view cameras we see on so many concept cars should be a homologation reality at last, according to Perini. The caveat is that the cameras and their screens on the dash need to remain on at all times, even when the Urus is switched off.
So, tell us what you think. As added fodder, Lamborghini hints that the Urus could possibly end up running the Dakar rally as well. We'd love to see that concept at a show.
Chief foreseen competitors for the Urus, according to Lamborghini bosses, are the BMW X6 M, Land Rover Range Rover Sport, and Porsche Cayenne range. In keeping with Lambo's typically evil proportions, even the Urus hunkers way down to a minimum height of 65.4 inches with a width of 78.4 inches. The 196.5-inch current length is matched to a wheelbase measuring 114.0 inches that is spot on with the latest Cayenne. Four passengers are said to have plenty of room inside, however, even for heads in back.
So, let the mispronunciation games begin! While the Italians will say "Oo-rooss", noone else will unless they are trained to do so. "Urus" is, in keeping with the Lamborghini penchant for glorified cattle, a Spanish breed of bull that sits somewhere between fighting size and hauling size. They are known for their broad shoulders and better than average height.