When the sheet was pulled off the Lamborghini Urus concept -- pronounced "oo-roos" -- the assembled media cheered and burst into applause. Though an SUV is clearly a big divergence for the Italian manufacturer of supercars, it's clear that the Gallardo-styled model has at least a handful of fans here in Beijing.
The Urus is a sporty five-door design that has much in common with the styling cues of the Gallardo and Aventador supercars: large air intakes, jutting lines, relatively low roofline, and so on. It looks like an angrier, more aggressive version of the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque. Four bucket seats grace the interior, along with toggle switches and a racy three-spoke steering wheel that look familiar from the Aventador LP700-4.
Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann is keen to point out that the Urus is merely a concept at this time, and warns that the company has yet to decide whether it will go into production. But he hints that, based on the warm reception to the concept here in Beijing, it's quite likely the Urus will reach dealerships at some point in the future. If so, Winkelmann says Lamborghini could sell about 3000 copies of the Urus each year -- for reference, the company sold just 1600 cars in all of 2011.
The Lamborghini Urus is expected to be built on the same platform as the next-generation Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne, and could go on sale about four years from now. To help differentiate it from the Audi and Porsche, the Urus would probably use lots of carbon fiber and a turbocharged V-8 engine, the latter possibly even gaining an electric motor to become Lamborghini's first-ever hybrid. Total power should be about 600 hp. The front suspension will also probably be bespoke to the Urus, to give a lower ride height and more precise handling than in the Q7 and Cayenne.
The unusual name, incidentally, comes from a species of now-extinct wild cattle that used to roam Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. Like those animals, Winkelmann says of the Urus concept, "It's fast, strong, courageous. In one word, it's invincible."
It makes a lot of sense for Lamborghini to show off a new model in Beijing. After the U.S., China is the second biggest market for Lamborghini sales in the world. Sales here have exploded to 340 cars in 2011 -- which sounds small until you realize that represented a year-over-year gain of 70 percent. Lamborghini currently has 14 dealerships in China but will open six more before the end of this year.
For more on the Lamborghini Urus Concept, check out our First Look here.