Posted Apr 22nd 2012 8:00AM
Lamborghini has told us repeatedly that it wasn't planning on doing such a thing anytime soon. We expected most likely the front-engine four-door super sedan – playing off the 2008 Estoque showcar and 1968-'78 Espada – to become the raging bull's third model line.
The promise is to make it the most powerful series production SUV on the market, but also the least polluting.
Feast your eyes on the Lamborghini Urus, or "LB736." First off, yes, it is part of an upcoming (i.e. sometime in 2015) Volkswagen Group premium SUV onslaught. In the company of Lamborghini design director Filippo Perini and research and development guru Maurizio Reggiani, we were able to pry into all of the details back in mid-March during a special preview at company headquarters. We've had to hold off scribbling until today because the official debut for the edgy 4x4 happens right about now at the Beijing Motor Show. China is foreseen as a good market for the supersonic SUV, but North America is also a top priority.
In comparison to the clumsy Bentley EXP 9 F concept seen at the recent Geneva Motor Show, the Urus hits us almost gleefully by comparison; it's right on the money with Lambo's current design language. Lamborghini's Perini understands that this is a polarizing proposition: "When Lamborghini creates a whole new model line, it's automatically risky since it doesn't happen so often."
And we were nervous about it, too, imagining a four-seater setup that would need to ride way too high, sort of like the first generation Porsche Cayenne or that Bentley. But when the veil came off and the hard lights hit it, we were pleased.
Click for more after the jump.
Related GalleryLamborghini Urus SUV Concept
Lamborghini president and CEO Stephan Winkelmann started the proceedings by saying that though the two-door supersport sector is still going well, due to so many new entries coming out nowadays and new buyer preferences, the forecast is for a steady small decline year-on-year in demand for these cars. Specifically, two-door sports cars with over 400 horsepower and costing over US$100,000.
The Urus will singlehandedly triple total annual production.
So they're going a different way, following an upward trending graph: a 4x4 super SUV with just over 600 horsepower, stretching over 20 cm longer than an Aventador and about 20 cm longer than a BMW X6 M, and certainly costing somewhere within reach of US$200,000+ by the time you get it home. With projected volume in a full year of 3,000 Uruses (or "Uri"?), Lamborghini, its immediate warden Audi, and mothership Volkswagen Group, are all no doubt drooling over the potential profits the Urus represents. It will singlehandedly triple total annual production.
Current press information released on the Urus is deliberately vague as the launch is not set until 2015, so there is still time to decide the powertrain. Given that the promise is to make it the most powerful series production SUV on the market but also the least polluting so far as carbon dioxide emissions are concerned, either a V10 or V12 engine would seem a heck of a challenge. By the time of production start, many European high-performance cars will need to be able to emit no more than 200 grams of CO2 per kilometre when running most efficiently. And looking at the sharply sloping front end, we're unsure whether there would be enough room to hold either 10 or 12 cylinders.
There is no chance of a monster diesel.
Talk is in the air about a new forced-air (bi-turbo or supercharged) V8 engineered within the vast workshops of the VW Group. Engineer Reggiani was rather sly about this suggestion when we brought it up, but with these packaging and emissions goals it definitely would make sense to at least seriously consider the idea. In fact, Reggiani and Winkelmann attest that with this new model the company will take more advantage of "group synergies". Does this mean some variation of hybrid drive or maybe even a take on Audi's e-tron thinking? And, no, there is no chance of a monster diesel.
50 per cent of customer deliveries are projected for North America.
A key ingredient for any Lamborghini in optimizing matters for speed and handling, as well as various efficiencies, is managing weight and rigidity through composite materials formed in-house. The Urus will certainly be loaded with this stiff lightness and Lamborghini claims it saves over 220 pounds versus metal and adds tremendous bending stiffness. The chassis, body, and, for the first time in the segment, the interior as well, will be optimized for lightness. As the concept interior unveiled in Beijing shows, every element seems to be floating in place. How much of this spectacle it can keep down the road is to be decided.
Lamborghini suggests the Urus could end up running the Dakar rally as well.
We know from conversations at Lamborghini that the steering will be electro-mechanical, the range of travel adjustment on the suspension will be 8.9 cm, and by the time of production weight distribution will be as close to 50:50 fore:aft as possible. The mondo wheelset right now for showing purposes is a custom set of 24 inchers in an aero design. Currently, the Urus wears nasty-bad Pirelli Scorpion Zero tires measuring a big 305/35R24 (W-rated). We are assuming the wheel-tire setup will be able to get more supple for passenger comfort by 2015.
And by the time of customer deliveries – 50 per cent of which is projected for North America – those fancy side-view cameras we see on so many concept cars should be a homologation reality at last, according to Perini. The caveat is that the cameras and their screens on the dash need to remain on at all times, even when the Urus is switched off.
Four passengers are said to have plenty of room inside, even for heads in back.
So, tell us what you think. As added fodder, Lamborghini hints that the Urus could possibly end up running the Dakar rally as well. We'd love to see that concept at a show.
Chief foreseen competitors for the Urus, according to Lamborghini bosses, are the BMW X6 M, Land Rover Range Rover Sport, and Porsche Cayenne range. In keeping with Lambo's typically evil proportions, even the Urus hunkers way down to a minimum height of 1.66 m (65.4 inches) with a width of 2.0 m (78.4 inches). The 4.6 m (196.5-inch) current length is matched to a wheelbase measuring 2.9 m (114.0 inches) that is spot on with the latest Cayenne. Four passengers are said to have plenty of room inside, however, even for heads in back.
"Urus" is a Spanish breed of bull that sits somewhere between fighting size and hauling size.
So, let the mispronunciation games begin! While the Italians will say "Oo-rooss," no-one else will unless they are trained to do so. "Urus" is, in keeping with the Lamborghini penchant for glorified cattle, a Spanish breed of bull that sits somewhere between fighting size and hauling size. They are known for their broad shoulders and better-than-average height.
Lamborghini has teased us already with possible chances at driving a rolling prototype sometime this year just to get a sense of the Urus spatially on the road. We are prepared to be bulled over.
The SUV super athlete
• Lamborghini presents SUV concept vehicle with extreme performance
• Unique, powerfully dynamic design, interior with carbon fiber innovations such as Forged Composite
• Breathtaking dynamics thanks to 440 kW / 600 hp and lightweight design technology; best in class CO2 figure among the competition
At the 2012 Beijing Motor Show, Automobili Lamborghini presents the ultimate super athlete in the SUV segment. With the Urus concept car, Lamborghini is completely redefining dynamics and design in this category. The Urus combines unique design, a fascinating interior and outstanding performance with versatility and everyday usability.
Output of around 440 kW / 600 hp and Lamborghini's excellent know-how in the field of lightweight design technologies guarantee breathtaking dynamics. At the same time, the Urus will offer the lowest CO2 figure of all comparable vehicles. As an SUV concept with four generous seats, a versatile luggage compartment, variable ground clearance and, of course, permanent all-wheel drive, the Urus delivers unique driving fun with virtually no limitations. The interior, too, matches the standards of this super athlete with innovative materials featuring carbon fiber technology like the patented Forged Composite.
The luxury SUV segment is successful worldwide and promises continued strong growth – a luxurious and powerful SUV is the most emotional way to drive a four-door vehicle equipped to meet all the demands of everyday mobility and yet enjoy refined driving fun. The Urus means that a Lamborghini can now be used by a household as its primary car. This expands the brand's customer base enormously - appealing to families and to the drivers of Lamborghini super sports cars who have thus far driven SUV models from other brands. Target markets are primarily the USA, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, the Middle East and China. The annual production volume could conceivably be around 3,000 vehicles.
"The Urus is a very concrete idea for the future of Lamborghini – as a third model line and as the perfect complement to our super sports cars," says Stephan Winkelmann, President and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini. "SUVs stand for freedom and emotion. SUVs make up one of the most successful market segments worldwide. The Urus is the most extreme interpretation of the SUV idea; it is the Lamborghini of the SUVs."
Heritage and Name
Permanent all-wheel drive is part of the Lamborghini DNA; but the brand from Sant'Agata Bolognese is also no stranger to the SUV segment - Lamborghini founded the super-luxury SUV segment with the legendary LM002. When it was unveiled in 1985, the LM002 was an absolutely revolutionary vehicle. An automobile suitable for off-road driving with a twelve-cylinder engine and 450 hp, a top speed of more than 210 km/h, a luxurious interior and, above all, an absolutely stunning appearance – it was utterly unthinkable at the time. The Lamborghini LM002 remained in production until 1992. And, although barely more than 300 units were ever built, the LM002 has secured its place in automotive history.
With the Urus, Lamborghini designers and engineers have created a new icon in automotive history – that much is certain. As has long been the tradition at Lamborghini, its name is derived once more from the world of bulls – the Urus, also known as Aurochs, is one of the large, wild ancestors of domestic cattle. Urus bulls could measure up to 1.8 meters at the shoulder. The Spanish fighting bull, as bred for the past 500 years, is still very close to the Urus in its appearance.
Concept and Technology
The Urus is the Lamborghini among SUVs. Its concept places design, performance and driving fun firmly and uncompromisingly front and center and redefines the benchmark for the competition. Yet it offers plenty of space for four people and a generous amount of luggage or shopping. The Urus is the Lamborghini for everyday use, for the family, for leisure pursuits with friends.
Most importantly, however, it is a true Lamborghini. The Urus has a unique, utterly unmistakable appearance. It looks powerful, but not bulky. It is muscular and highly athletic, but also elegant. At a length of 4.99 meters, it fits perfectly into the sporty SUV class. At a height of just 1.66 meters, however, it is considerably lower than all its competitors. Together with its width of 1.99 meters, the Lamborghini Urus boasts the perfect proportions for the super athlete in the segment.
The key to its performance is primarily the drive – the heart of every Lamborghini. The target has been set – expect around 440 kW / 600 hp. Permanent all-wheel drive with traction control is, of course, a given.
One target is clearly defined – the Lamborghini Urus will beat all comparable competitors when it comes to CO2 emissions. One important prerequisite for this is low weight. The Urus will be considerably lighter than its competitors, sticking firmly to the Lamborghini lightweight design philosophy. The steps to achieve this include an intelligent material mix for the structure and bodyshell and, for the first time, systematic lightweight design in the interior, too. The consistent application of innovative carbon fiber technologies is a given - Automobili Lamborghini possesses unique know-how in this particular field.
Lightweight design is the decisive prerequisite not only for moderate fuel consumption, but also for dynamics and handling. The Urus will set new benchmarks here, too. A low center of gravity and a highly variable bodyshell height are among the solutions. The Lamborghini SUV is also notable for its innovative, adaptive aerodynamics. In combination with the variable bodyshell height, the height-adjustable front spoiler facilitates a good approach angle and excellent obstacle clearance. At its lowest setting, however, it aids stability at high speeds. The form is, of course, aerodynamically refined. At the upper edge of the rear windshield is a deflector that diverts the airflow along the rear windshield and onto the adjustable spoiler. In combination with the likewise adaptive rear spoiler, the aerodynamic balance of the Lamborghini Urus can even be adjusted to suit the prevailing driving conditions.
Lamborghini design is unique. Every Lamborghini is an artwork of avant-garde design, a technical sculpture in rapid movement. Every Lamborghini is pure and minimalist - exhibiting a clear focus on what matters. The Lamborghini Urus concept car adheres to this logic just as firmly as the Aventador sports car. Extremely tight, razor-sharp lines define a precision that is at the very forefront of automotive design. And the clean, taut, finely executed surfaces show the exceptional degree of competence and experience possessed by Lamborghini in design, construction and bodyshell manufacturing. The result is a tremendously precise design language with a strong technical appeal that is amazingly spirited and light in its expression.
It starts at the front, which already displays the clear family resemblance. The strong three-dimensionality with sharp lines, a clear arrow form, large air intakes left and right, the Y shape in the headlamps, the aerodynamically refined function of the elements and the lines that run from the hood over the roof to the rear of the vehicle – these characteristics of the Lamborghini design language are all evident in the Urus.
And yet every single detail has been reinterpreted – for example, the headlamps now take on a horizontal, heptagonal form and feature full LED technology consisting of two arrays each with three high-performance LEDs. LED light guides lend the daytime running lights their characteristic Y-shape, while the LED fog lamps are positioned beneath the huge air intakes. Between them is the adaptive front spoiler. Characteristic for the side view of the Urus is the narrow window surface that tapers sharply toward the rear. Together with the highly dynamic roofline and the extremely muscular rear wheel arch, they create a taut and powerfully sporty look. The marked indent formed behind the front wheel arch by the air intake breaks the side view to give it a surprising degree of lightness.
Substantial wheels are part of any Lamborghini, especially if it redefines dynamics in the SUV segment – the all-new 24-inch wheels sport a double-spoke design and are forged from matte-finish aluminum. Five carbon fiber winglets optimize ventilation. The Urus is painted in a rich, lightly shimmering red that offers the ideal contrast for the many bodyshell parts made from carbon fiber reinforced polymer. A large proportion of the front spoiler, the complete side sills and the mighty rear diffuser all clearly display their carbon fiber origins. There are no conventional exterior mirrors, instead small and aerodynamically optimized cameras monitor traffic conditions behind the vehicle. These images are displayed via two TFT screens placed in ergonomically perfect positions on the left and right of the cockpit.
The rear end of the Urus is astonishingly round for a Lamborghini; it looks powerful, but in no way bulky. The narrow rear lights featuring the Y signature are connected by a black strip that adds emphasis to the car's breadth. The attention paid by Lamborghini designers to detail is evident everywhere, even on the exhaust system. The four hexagonal end pipes are carefully fitted into chrome surrounds.
The Lamborghini Urus completely redefines the term sporty within the SUV segment, yet without restricting its everyday usability. This is particularly evident in its interior – the driver and up to three passengers feel like they are wearing a perfectly made-to-measure suit – carefully fitted, but comfortable. Yet there can be no doubt that what we are dealing with here is the ultimate sports car among SUVs. Virtually the complete interior is – in keeping with the Lamborghini lightweight design strategy – finished in carbon fiber reinforced polymer.
Automobili Lamborghini possesses a unique competence in the use of carbon materials, and exhibits this innovative technology in the Urus concept car. The center tunnel is particularly notable – an open, skeletal carbon fiber structure made from Forged Composite®. It carries through the entire interior and is only partially clad in leather-upholstered cushioning. Single cushions also clad the four bucket seats. The seating position is lower and flatter than in any other vehicle in the segment. Also all four bucket seats are made from Forged Composite®.
The Lamborghini Urus concept car also features an extremely minimized operating philosophy. Behind the steering wheel are only the shift paddles for the dual-clutch transmission. All other functions such as indicators, lights and windshield wipers are incorporated into either the multifunction steering wheel or the center console. The driver is delivered information via a freely programmable TFT screen behind the steering wheel. Secondary functions like navigation, entertainment and climate control are operated via a touchscreen on the center tunnel. A further touchscreen is available for rear seat passengers.