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Less weight, more power, more aggression: is the Urus Performante the new sports SUV champion?

You can tell a lot from a single corner when you review a car like the Lamborghini Urus Performante, even if it’s just testing it on a track.

It doesn’t even have to be at high speed. As is often the way with these things, the manufacturer - Lamborghini - gives the journalist a car and then sends them on some sighting laps of the circuit, following a pro driver in another car. Obviously, it’s slow to start off with but even then you can tell that the Urus Performante turns in incredibly well for a large SUV.

There is little pause, minimal body roll and incredible bite as the car rotates sharply into a bend.

Little wonder, when you learn of the engineering changes that have been wrought. This, then, is the hardcore Urus, designed to follow in the footsteps of cars like the Huracán Performante, albeit with an SUV starting point, and to take on the likes of the Aston Martin DBX 707 and Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT. The Italians have really thrown the engineering sink at it, with wholesale changes across the car to make it, in their words, a “super-sports car”.

4 Lamborghini urus performante front corner

Power and torque are now 657bhp and 627lb ft, the same as the new ‘normal’ Urus S, with an identical 0-62mph time as the Porsche

But the big news lies largely hidden. Get ready for this: the suspension is now a lighter set of steel springs, not air, and it rides 20mm lower; the torque vectoring is new; it has Pirelli Trofeo R tyres that have been specifically developed for the Performante; there’s a titanium exhaust; it's fitted with lighter alloys (along with the tyres, saving over 6kg in unsprung mass); a new Torsen central diff (both in hardware and configuration) can send more power to the rear; it has a new rear wing (and up to 38% more downforce); there's a rally mode – in an Urus; the front and rear tracks are 16mm wider; downshifts are quicker; it has Alcantara trim; and there's a carbonfibre bonnet and optionally a carbonfibre roof, to give the car the most carbonfibre of any in the segment, according to the Lamborghini. This has not been a small task.

With all the weight saving, the Performante is 47kg lighter than the normal one. It still weighs 2.1 tonnes, so it won’t be called to the front of the Weight Watchers class, but still, it’s heading in the right direction.

As an aside, it’s interesting to see the divergence in Urus Performante and Cayenne Turbo GT. While both are on the same MLB-Evo platform, there are some differences between the two at these upper echelons of their ranges. The Cayenne keeps air suspension and rides on Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres, while the carbon roof is standard. Still, the Cayenne's diet isn’t as harsh overall, because it weighs in at 2220kg. 

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Visual changes on the Urus aren’t quite as dramatic but still run to larger air intakes in the front bumper to aid engine cooling, as well as better air curtains to keep the standard carbon-ceramic brakes cooler. The rear spoiler is also new, while lashings of carbonfibre accentuate the more muscular haunches over the wheels. 

Mitja Borkert, head of design at Lamborghini, told us he drew inspiration from the Aventador SVJ. Like that car, the Performante hasn’t exactly dialled things down in the looks department. This remains one of the more shouty SUVs.  

If you jump from the Urus S (the new baseline version) into this, the change to the interior is marked. Lamborghini talks of making this car more focused and it’s not wrong: all the dark Alcantara and carbonfibre give the cabin a much more hunkered-down feeling. The odd bit of red on the door handles, starter button and steering wheel only emphasises the moodiness. Incidentally, you can option these elements in black, but at that point, it genuinely becomes quite tricky to even see the door handle. I liked it with the red, but quite whether the inky effect works as well on a rainy day in Bognor remains to be seen.


13 Lamborghini urus performante incar driving

The same change marks out the driving as well. Not that the standard Urus is soft, but the Performante takes things to a new level. The caveat is we only drove it on track so the ride quality is completely unknown (although the lower unsprung mass help things in this regard) but every other dynamic measure is sharper, from the turn-in to the way it brakes, bites and goes. 

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The manner in which it hides the weight transfer is particularly impressive. Even through quite quick left/right flicks, body roll is well contained and it rarely feels unsettled. 

I particularly enjoyed a slow left that opened out on the exit, where you could feed the power in quite sharply once you’d hit the apex, using all the performance to get a real sense of the torque vectoring bringing the rear around as the car powered towards the next corner. It doesn’t rotate around you like the best sports cars - there’s too much mass for that - but it is surprisingly enjoyable to drive fast.

And fast it is. Planted and powerful, the Performante was incredible through some very high-speed corners, with the sort of confidence-inspiring security that shouldn’t be possible from a 2.1-tonne SUV. If the ride isn’t too unsettling on the road, it could be mighty. 

The car comes on standard carbon-ceramics, and while these resisted fade admirably, they need a bit more bite and feedback at the top of the pedal. Equally, it’ll be interesting to see how the tyres fare on wet public roads. Their semi-cut-slick appearance no doubt helped the Urus dynamics a huge amount on track, but a soaking British B-road? We’ll see. 

On the one hand, we should praise cars like this, where the engineers know they contain physical attributes that fundamentally shouldn’t add up to a great driver's car and yet they persist and finesse to the point where they get close. 

But do we need another super-capable super-SUV? It’s possibly not on most people’s priority lists right now, even allowing for the impressive engineering achievement.

What’s a Lamborghini Urus like off-road?

Yes, we really did try it on an off-road stage. It was hardly Rally Finland, but the Performante did at least show that it’s capable off road. The single rally mode replaces the three off-road modes in the Urus S and allows for higher slip from the traction control, along with lower damping forces to let the car roll a bit more, and it also recalibrates the torque vectoring and rear-wheel steer. 

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It’s unlikely owners will ever use the full potential of all this, but the Urus was certainly fun on mud. What impressed was how much feedback you got from the seat, which meant that the car was easy to hustle because you always knew what it was doing. It rode bigger bumps well for the most part, but you could feel the weight transfer more here than on the track. Still, Dakar 2023 here we come.


Impressive grip and stability | Rapid directional change | Engineering integrity | Lively exhaust note


Brakes could do with more bite and feel | Fuel economy

8 Lamborghini urus performante front bumper


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Peter Cavellini 15 October 2022

Buy what you like, drive what you like, doesn't matter what others say, as long as it make you smile makes you feel good, that's all that matters.

abkq 14 October 2022

For rich Civic Type R owners who like disfigurements on their cars disguised as showy details that serve technology, performance etc.

deppi 13 October 2022

I have owned a Urus for 3 years now and I absolutely love it. From what I understand this is a serious upgrade based on your review but it gets the same starts as the old one...I am confused on how you rate cars and in what areas is the DBX 707 so much better? A little more clarity for the readers and potential buyers would be welcome.