When looking for a practical daily driver, Lamborghini probably isn’t the first name that springs to mind. But the company is looking to change all that with the Urus concept car it unveiled at the 2012 Beijing Motor Show. Intended to usher in a whole new product line and capitalize on the continuing popularity of SUVs, the Urus retains the aerodynamic lines for which the company is renowned while aiming to deliver the practicality of a family car.
Lamborghini was one of the pioneers of the super-luxury SUV segment with its LM002 “Rambo-Lambo” that was produced from 1986 until 1992. While that vehicle was a success for the company, it was nothing compared to the more recent successes seen by other sportscar manufacturers in the luxury SUV segment – most notably Porsche with its Cayenne.
While the boxy, angular design of the LM002 reflected its military roots – the original LM001 prototype was designed in the hopes of attracting the interest of the U.S. military – the Urus features more aerodynamic lines popularized by more recent designs in to the SUV segment, such as the Maserati Kubang and Lexus LF-Xh hybrid concept.
Named after the wide-shouldered wild ancestors of domestic cattle, also known as Aurochs, the change in design from its forebear also reflects the reality that the most demanding terrain the majority of modern SUVs will need to navigate is the speed humps surrounding school zones when dropping off junior.
While Lamborghini hasn’t provided details on the permanent all-wheel drive car’s powerplant, it says it is targeting an output of 600 hp (440 kW). Sticking to Lamborghini’s lightweight design philosophy, the Urus includes carbon fiber technologies throughout, allowing for what the company says will be the lowest CO2 emissions in its class.
The vehicle’s low-weight, coupled with a low center of gravity and variable height bodyshell, are designed to provide impressive handling, while a height-adjustable front spoiler aids in obstacle clearance. These, along with a deflector at the upper edge of the rear windshield that diverts airflow along the rear windshield onto the adjustable spoiler, are designed to allow the aerodynamic balance of the car to be adjusted to suit the driving conditions.
Instead of conventional exterior mirrors, the Urus features small, aerodynamically designed cameras, with images displayed on two TFT screens placed on the left and right side of the cockpit. There's also a programmable TFT display located behind the steering wheel, another touchscreen display on the center tunnel for navigation, entertainment and climate controls, and another available for rear seat passengers.
With only the shift paddles for the dual-clutch transmission located behind the steering wheel, indicators, lights and windshield wiper controls are incorporated into the multifunction steering wheel or center console.
Reflecting the vehicle’s family-friendly aspirations, there are four seats with plenty of room for luggage or shopping bags. It measures 1.99 m (6.53 ft) wide and, sitting atop 24-inch wheels, it is quite a bit lower than its competitors at just 1.66 m (5.45 ft).
Although the vehicle on show is just a concept, Lamborghini has provided strong indications the vehicle will enter production. “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.
Lamborghini says it will target markets in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Russia, the Middle East and China with the Urus ... and given where the launch took place, the latter is clearly seen as an important market for luxury SUVs).
While only just over 300 of the LM002 were produced in its seven-year run, the company says the Urus could conceivably see production numbers of around 3,000 per year.