After months of speculation and a couple of carefully-timed 'leaks' Lamborghini unveiled its Urus SUV concept this morning at the Auto China Expo in Beijing - its first since the LM002 of the 1980s.
According to the makers, its combination of light weight, 440kW, permanent all-wheel drive with variable ride height, four individual seats and a versatile luggage compartment make it the first Lamborghini that's suitable as a family car.
This could expand Lamborghini's customer base enormously, appealing to families and Lamborghini drivers who currently drive SUV models from other brands. Target markets are primarily the US, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, the Middle East and China, at an estimated 3000 sales a year worldwide.
Lamborghini president Stephan Winkelmann said at Beijing: “SUVs stand for freedom and emotion; they are one of the most successful market segments worldwide. The Urus is the most extreme interpretation of the SUV idea; it is the Lamborghini of SUVs.”
NAME DERIVED FROM THE WORLD OF BULLS
As has long been the tradition at Lamborghini, its name is derived from the world of bulls: the Urus, also known as Aurochs, is one of the large, wild ancestors of domestic cattle, standing as much has 1.8 metres at the shoulder.
At just under five metres long, and two metres wide, the Urus is about 120mm longer and 16mm wider than a BMW X6 but, at only 1.66 metres high, it's 30mm lower.
Production models would have either Lamborghini's iconic V10 or the new Audi turbo V8, driving through a dual-clutch 'box and permanent all-wheel drive with traction control, based on the same platform as the monumentally ugly Bentley EXP 9 F SUV and the next-generation VW Touareg.
Lamborghini also says a production Urus would be way lighter than its competitors thanks to an intelligent material mix for the structure and bodyshell and extensive use of carbon fibre in the interior trim.
BURN LESS FUEL FOR THE SAME PERFORMANCE
That would also give it a competitive edge in CO2 emissions, simply because a lighter car burns less fuel for the same performance. It would also lower the car's centre of gravity, improving both ride and stability.
The designers envisage a variable ride height (which is not new) together with a height-adjustable front spoiler for decent approach angle and obstacle clearance, togehterwith high-speed stability on tar.
There's also a deflector at the upper edge of the rear windshield that diverts the airflow along the rear windshield and on to the adjustable spoiler, so that the car's aerodynamic balance can be adjusted to suit the prevailing driving conditions.
The 24” double-spoked rims are forged, rather than cast aluminium. And carbon-fibre winglets optimize ventilation. The Urus is finished in a shimmering red, setting off the many body components made from carbon fibre, which include most of the front spoiler, the side sills and rear diffuser.
Virtually the entire interior is trimmed in carbon fibre, notably the centre console, an open, skeletal structure that runs from firewall to rear seat backs and is only partially clad in leather-upholstered padding.
All four buckets seats are also made from carbon fibre, as is the minimalist dashboard. Apart form the shift paddles behind the steering wheel, all the switchgear is either on the steering wheel or on the centre console, while instrumentation consists of a programmable TFT screen in fornt of the driver, and infotainment is served by a touchscreen on the centre console.
Up to now Lamborghinis (with the honourable exceptions of the LM002 and the strikingly beautiful Espada) have been very selfish two-seater sports cars. Now parent company VW is hoping there there will be an Urus parked next to Daddy's Gallardo in the garage, rather than a BMW X5 or Mercedes ML-Class.