The Lamborghini Urus SUV will be powered by the company’s first turbocharged V8 powerplant when it goes on sale in 2018.
Chief executive Stephan Winkelmann and R&D boss Maurizio Reggiani have confirmed to Autocar that the Italian company’s first 4x4 since the LM002 will eschew the naturally aspirated V10 and V12 units which power the current Huracan and Aventador sports cars in favour of a twin-turbocharged eight-cylinder unit with a cubic capacity of 4.0 litres. Winkelmann described the move as “a major step” for the company.
In addition to the turbo unit’s benefits in terms of CO2 emissions, a turbocharged V8 makes sense because of the extensive power spread, with low-end torque to give the car true off-road credentials and top-end power in keeping with Lamborghini’s sports cars.
Reggiani said: “In acceleration and in off-road capability it is really important to have a high level of torque, in order to move as quickly as possible and in an off-road situation to have the ability to come out of a critical situation easily. We decided that a turbo for a super sport SUV is the best choice. The engine must be light and powerful and with the capability with this torque at low revs to allow the car to be ‘elastic’ in every type of condition.”
“On the track the car was able to demonstrate all of those capabilities in terms of the engine and the chassis control. Next spring we will be able to fully assess the off-road capabilities of the car,” he added.
“This engine is not used by anybody else, only for Lamborghini. To be the most powerful in the class it must have something that is dedicated to our brand. It must be able to produce the right amount power and torque, but do that in conjunction with the right transmission and chassis control that makes it a true Lamborghini.”
Winkelmann has already had an early experience of twin-turbocharged V8 Urus during benchmarking comparison tests against Lamborghini’s luxury SUV rivals.
“In early autumn I drove a prototype for the first time on a racetrack and the performance was great,” he said. “I was astonished; it was more than any of us expected, which is a car that is very powerful but easy to drive, with very good handling, and also in terms of driveability and comfort, it has a limousine feel in an SUV. This is very important to us.
“It will be a true Lamborghini because it will be the fastest among the SUVs. We will have the most powerful engine and will have the car that is going to be a real super sports SUV. It has to keep the balance between matching the DNA of the brand, that is being a car that is really driveable and also have a lot of off-road capability, but the driving on the roads is much more important.”
“It’s a major step. We are almost done with the exterior design. There are minor adjustments. If you see the car you will recall the red concept we showed at Beijing, but it now has more roominess and an evolved design; it is more state-of-the-art compared with that concept”.
Winkelmann said a plug-in hybrid version of the Urus is still a possibility further down the line, and the car is being engineered to accept a battery pack and electric motors. However, the car will remain strictly four-wheel drive; although Lamborghini recently unveiled a rear-wheel-drive Huracan variant, this policy won’t be repeated on the Aventador and Urus. The former needs all-wheel drive to safely harness its power, and the latter must retain authentic off-road capability.
The definitive Urus production car is expected to be revealed at the Geneva motor show in the spring of 2018, although the company hasn’t ruled out bringing that forward to Frankfurt in late 2017 if development proceeds swiftly.
Lamborghini’s third model will go on sale at a price range similar to that of the Huracan, putting it in the £180k region.
Special-edition versions of the Urus already lined up
Several special-edition versions of the Lamborghini Urus SUV are under consideration, including a hardcore Superveloce model and a more focused luxury model, according to CEO Stephan WInkelmann.
“We have more than enough ideas, but it is too early to confirm anything,” said Winkelmann. “All options are possible and we will work on evaluating them in the run-up to launch. If our customers want to see something, we’ll do our best to meet their needs.”
Winkelmann confirmed that the production version of the Urus is likely to keep the concept’s rakish exterior but will have a significantly more comfort-orientated and conventional interior.
“The look will evolve from the concept, but you will recognise it both as a pure Lamborghini and from the concept,” he said. “Inside, it will have a look and feel that is a bit different from where we have been before. The surfaces are larger and the needs of occupants more around usability. The Urus must be capable of being a family’s first car all year round. It must have driveability, comfort, roominess and more.
“Top speed and performance may be important, but the Urus is more about having a car that delivers Lamborghini levels of emotion while being capable of being handled every day, on open and congested roads.”
The new model will be built at Lamborghini's headquarters in Sant’Agata Bolognese. Reports had suggested that the Italian government had granted Lamborghini a number of "tax breaks and other benefits" to ensure that a new domestic facility was opened in Italy. Lamborghini has since confirmed that the deal was made possible thanks to assistance from the likes of the Italian Ministry of Economic Development and Invitalia - the Italian national agency for inward investments and economic development.
Given that the production Urus is set to use the same underpinnings as the new Audi Q7 and the forthcoming Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini's luxury SUV could have been produced in the same Slovakian factory as the Q7. However, the new model will significantly expand the capacity of the Sant’Agata Bolognese plant, with the company saying it will invest “hundreds of millions of euros” in the facility. The factory will almost double in size, growing from 80,000 square metres to around 150,000 square metres. Lamborghini also intends to hire 500 new employees.
Lamborghini intends to spread its sales across the globe, and has identified the US, China, the Middle East, the UK, Germany and Russia as its main target markets. It intends to sell around 3000 units a year, which would represent a doubling of the company’s current sales figures.
Winkelmann said: “This is a proud moment for everybody in Lamborghini. The introduction of a third model line endorses the stable and sustainable growth of the company and signifies for us the beginning of a new era.”
The state of the economy in Europe in the years between the Urus's Beijing debut and the production announcement had led to doubts about the future of the model, with sources at the company saying the economy needed to be "sound" before the car was launched. The delays continued until late 2014, before the car was finally confirmed.
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