The Lamborghini 4x4, previewed at the Beijing motor show today as the Urus concept and set to go into production in 2016, is crucial to the firm’s goal of nearly tripling sales and securing its future, according to boss Stephan Winkelmann.

Lamborghini is targeting annual sales of 3000 luxury 4x4s, on top of around 1500 to 2000 Aventador and Gallardo models. “Lamborghini needs a third model line that will provide sales stability and ensure profitability,” said Winkelmann. “We have looked at every sector, but it’s clear that a 4x4 offers the best opportunity for success.

“The extreme supersports segment is very cyclic and very sensitive to new product launches and economic downturns. Therefore, it is clear Lamborghini needs a wider customer base to ensure long-term profitability.”

Winkelmann has targeted the BMW X6 M and Range Rover as rivals for the four-seat Urus, which is likely to be priced from around £150,000 when it goes into production. “Our studies have shown that nearly all existing Lamborghini owners also have a sport utility vehicle in their garage, so in this respect we consider it the perfect extension to our existing supercar business,” said Winkelmann.

The Urus has already been granted the internal Lamborghini codename LB736. Insiders say the production version is likely to keep the same rakish exterior looks (other than the concept’s oversized 24in wheels) but will have a significantly more comfort-orientated and conventional interior. It has been conceived to sit on the same four-wheel drive underpinnings as future incarnations of the Audi Q7, Bentley Falcon (as previewed by the EXP 9 F concept at the Geneva motor show), Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg.

“It is the most suitable [platform] in terms of costs and shared investment,” said Lamborghini engineering boss Maurizio Reggiani. “For production, it would incorporate lightweight carbonfibre structural elements combined with an aluminium-intensive chassis to achieve a target weight less than the competition.”

Such measures are already being developed by Audi for the second-generation Q7 due out in 2014. That car is claimed to weigh up to 250kg less than today’s first-generation model.

At 4990mm in length, 1990mm in width and 1660mm in height, the Urus concept on display in China is 114mm longer, 7mm wider and 24mm lower than the BMW X6 M. “Entry and egress will be effortless,” said Reggiani, who describes the height of the front seats as being “similar to the Audi Q7”.

Lamborghini refused to reveal engine details of the Urus, beyond saying it would develop “around 600bhp”. However, Autocar understands that the production version of the Urus will be a plug-in hybrid, powered by a modified version of parent company Audi’s new twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8, as used by the new S6, S7 and S8, in combination with an electric motor.

Power is likely to be channelled through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and Torsen torque-sensing four-wheel drive system with an electronically operated torque vectoring system capable of juggling the amount of drive going to each rear wheel.

Lamborghini also claims it will be the fastest-accelerating production 4x4. That means it will need to deliver 0-62mph in an X6 M-beating 4.7sec and, with the help of the active aerodynamics hinted at on the concept, reach a top speed of least 186mph — the maximum guaranteed by most tyre manufacturers offering products suitable for 4x4s.

Another target set by Lamborghini is for the new 4x4 to have the lowest CO2 emissions in its sector. “The Urus will beat all comparable competitors when it comes to CO2 emissions,” said Reggiani, reaffirming the goal of making the new sport utility vehicle “considerably lighter than its competitors”.

Among the fuel and emissions-saving technologies envisaged for the new Lamborghini are automatic stop-start, brake energy recuperation and electro-mechanical steering.

To provide the Lamborghini 4x4 with at least some degree of off-road ability, the chassis has been conceived to offer up to 160mm of adjustable ground clearance in much the same way as the Porsche Cayenne Turbo.

Lamborghini has previously evaluated other possible third models, including a four-door saloon previewed by the Estoque concept first seen at the Paris motor show in 2008. “It was placed on hold chiefly because of the lack of a suitable platform,” said Winkelmann. “However, we haven’t given up on the idea entirely.”In long-time Lamborghini tradition, the Urus is named after a bull. Also known as Aurochs, the Spanish-bred Urus is considered an ancestor of today’s domestic bull.

Greg Kable/Jim Holder