Lamborghini may have been hinting at a 2020’s, Tesla-dictated future when it unveiled its Terzo Millennio electric-powered supercar concept at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology earlier this month, but its short-term, bankable future starts December 4, when the Italian brand launches its first sport/utility vehicle in 24 years.
Or rather, its first super-sport/utility, as Lamborghini R&D chief Maurizio Reggiani calls it. With the Lamborghini Urus launching next spring in Italy, the Volkswagen Group’s SUV lineup becomes complete, save for Bugatti (for now). The Macan and Cayenne already are Porsche’s bestsellers, and with its Bentayga, Bentley has taken Ettore Bugatti’s epithet about “the fastest trucks in Europe” literally.
Why not? BMW’s Rolls-Royce soon will follow, and now even Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne apparently has given in on sport/utility vehicles.
“It’s a fantastic super SUV where we were able to merge the DNA of a super small Lamborghini, in terms of emotion, in terms of perception, in terms of drivability,” Reggiani says about the new Urus. I spoke with him way back when, at the Frankfurt auto show. Meanwhile, he notes, the Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster is doomed to be the last production car from which you can hear the glorious sounds of a naturally aspirated V-12 with the top stowed.
Who needs a V-12-powered roadster, though, when you can rumble down the autobahn in a tall 4×4 capable of more than 186 mph?
“I think our wish to be the fastest super sport car, super SUV on the market will be achieved, which means the car will be able to do more than 300 kilometers per hour, to be exceptional in handling, to have good off-road capability and to be also super-comfortable in terms of normal daily usage.”
Bye-bye, Bentley, as purveyor of the “fastest truck in Europe.”
Of course, this raises my cranky, age-old criticism of such sporting sport/utility vehicles; that they handle well … for such tall, heavy trucks.
“The big task that we have at the beginning is to control the center of gravity, and to control the additional weight of a super-sport SUV,” Reggiani allows, countering that “you need to have the right chassis control. Chassis control means with an adaptive anti-roll bar and control of the [air] suspension. You have to control the roll, and the stiffness of the suspension. To be able to control the roll and to create the right stiffness between steering and wheels, and between engine and suspension. I am convinced the Urus will match all these targets, and I can tell you that at the end we can be the last one to arrive on the market, but we were the first one to make an SUV [the LM 002, of 1986-93]. We already interpreted in the ‘80s what is a super-sport SUV from a super-sport brand like Lamborghini.”
You need ride comfort, as well. As our spy shots show, the Lamborghini Urus can show some compliance in the corners. As with all of its competitors, ride and handling balance are handled via sophisticated electronic suspension programs. In the case of an SUV like the Urus, that also entails four-wheel-drive programs that use the right combination of torque vectoring for the various conditions.
Lamborghini’s latest teaser for the Urus reveals there will be five drive modes: Strada (street), Sport, Sabbia (sand), Terra (dirt paths) and Neve (snow). Reggiani admits that off-roading won’t be the Urus’ strong suit, though.
“We’ll not be best-in-class, mainly due to the design.” It’s not a Jeep. “To have the perfect off-road capability, you must change the design of the car. You need to lift up everything … but we have good off-road capability.”
The drive modes also affect steering.
“There are three different set-ups,” the R&D chief says. “One is for comfort, one is for off-road, one is for handling.”
But even Lamborghini doesn’t want a high-profile SUV with quick steering, right?
“It’s clear that we centered on handling, because it’s where we want it to be best-in-class, and comfort is easy. Off-road, we don’t want to be best in class, but to have good capability. When you’re on-road, when you’re on the autobahn for example and driving fast, again a higher center of gravity can be a little disconcerting if it’s too quick. It is just a matter of the fact that it handles so well that you still have the quick steering.”
So, yes, the Lamborghini Urus will be another sport/utility from a super-sports car company engineered to overcome the two qualities that no true super-sports car should have to mitigate–weight and a high center of gravity.
And yes, Lamborghini is primed for a big market response, with the brand’s employment about 1,500, up from 800-900 a few years ago, and a new factory at Sant’ Agata Bolognese, twice the size of the old one.
“Yes,” Reggiani says, “this is really for us doubling the volume of the company.”
That’s why they do SUVs.