The success of the upcoming Lamborghini SUV will determine the future of the Italian supercar manufacturer as it seeks to expand its reach to the global market.
Speaking to CarAdvice at the Beijing motor show last month, Lamborghini’s head of design, Folippo Perini, said the Lamborghini Urus concept is at least 90 per cent production ready and is likely to go on sale towards the end of 2016.
The Urus concept, which has received a far better reception than its Bentley cousin (Bentley EXP 9F), takes the DNA of the Aventador and Gallardo but without the extreme, Perini says. Lamborghini’s director of research and development, Maurizio Reggiani, admitted that "what works for super sportcars cannot work for SUVs" however he insists that even a Lamborghini SUV must feel like a proper Lamborghini.
"If you drive a Urus you must have the same reaction that you have with any Lamborghini. Reaction means acceleration, cornering, precise driving experience and the braking" Reggiani said.
The Lamborghini SUV, which many suspect will be officially called the Lamborghini Huracan, is determined to be best in class for co2 emissions (compared to Bentley SUV, range-topping Porsche Cayenne and Maserati SUV). Although technical details are still unconfirmed, the Italian company promises that Urus will have at least 600bhp (440kW). Given the extensive use of carbon fibre to reduce weight and the enormous power, the Urus is likely to take the mantle as the world’s fastest SUV. Whether or not it will be turbocharged is all dependent on the torque curve required, according to Reggiani, but we expect to see a twin-turbo V8 under the bonnet in due time. Either way, you wouldn't be buying a Urus for off-roading purposes.
"We don't want to have an extreme off-road car, we want to have a car to be a really sporty SUV an in some conditions it can also be off-road, but not best in class in off-road".
Lamborghini’s limited two-model line-up is proving a difficult challenge for a company providing super-luxury goods amidst growing economic uncertainty in its home continent. For that reason, it must expand its reach and hence launch a new worldwide model. In countries like China, India and Russia, the Gallardo and Aventador are not as successful as the company may have hoped; this is mainly because of the poor road conditions limiting their appeal but also due to the popularity of SUVs. In India for example, 90 per cent of all Porsche sales are the Cayenne SUV. Lamborghini sees a natural progression into the SUV segment to meet the demand of its current and new customers.
The Lamborghini SUV will aim to be at the absolute top of its class in terms of Performance, according to Reggiani. Lamborghini is expecting to outdo not just the Bentley SUV but also the next-gen Cayenne and upcoming Maserati SUV in performance credentials.
As for the design, Perini admitted the biggest challenge was to hide the real dimensions of the car. The design brief was also to keep the typically extreme Lamborghini design in check, so that it doesn’t become ultra niche. “If its (design) is too extreme you're a niche in the niche and you're selling very few cars. I want to see many people drive Lamborghini.” Perini said.
Sales of the Lamborghini SUV are expected to help triple yearly output of the Italian company to a point where it becomes financially viable. In 2011 the Italian brand managed to sell just 1601 units, which is not enough to guarantee its future according to Lamborghini CEO, Stephan Winklemann. At the Geneva motor show in March, he told us that without an SUV Lamborghini simply wouldn’t survive.