Is there any reason why a sport-utility shouldn’t be a supercar? Lamborghini doesn’t think so, and that’s why it pulled the wraps off its all-new Urus SUV at an event prior to Toronto’s Canadian International Auto Show, which opens on February 16 and runs to the 25th. It was the first time the new Italian-built model has been shown in Canada.
Of course, the Urus has to be true to its heritage, and the company calls it a “super-SUV.” It sprints from zero-to-100 km/h in just 3.6 seconds, and can reach a top speed of 305 km/h – all while carrying up to five occupants, along with their gear. As is customary for the company, it’s named for a type of fighting bull.
The Urus goes on sale in Canada in September, starting at $232,000. Alessandro Farmeschi, chief operating officer of Lamborghini America, says that with the current popularity of SUVs, he expects it to double the company’s sales in all markets. Currently, Lamborghini’s lineup is the Aventador and Huracán sports cars.
Canada is Lamborghini’s fifth-largest market worldwide, and last year it sold 211 cars here, a record for the company. Major centres are Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary.
“Urus is the response to a market that has heavy winters, and you have six months where the super-sportscar is not used,” Farmeschi says. “We expect 30 per cent (of buyers) will be current Lamborghini customers, and 70 per cent we expect from those who have high-end SUVs but want to go beyond. Our product is unique, because most of the others are only luxury.”
The Urus has a high-end interior, but it’s really all about the go. It’s powered by the company’s first turbocharged engine, a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 making 650 horsepower and 627 lb.-ft. of torque. Even so, it has cylinder deactivation to reduce fuel consumption. Its four-wheel-drive system includes settings for off-road or snow, and it has rear-wheel steering, borrowed from the Aventador, to improve handling. Carbon ceramic brakes are standard equipment.
It’s not Lamborghini’s first sport-utility, of course. After producing a prototype called the Cheetah, an off-roader it tried unsuccessfully to sell to the U.S. military, and the equally odd LM001 that followed it, it was finally successful with the boxy LM002 that it showed at the Geneva Motor Show in 1982. It was put into production four years later, and around 300 were made before it was discontinued in 1993.
Previous Lamborghini execs usually tried to downplay it, but it’s now being billed as the forerunner to the Urus. A perfectly-restored one was on display at the Toronto event.
“All companies are in the market to survive, and an SUV for us as a company means more stability, because we (will) have a higher volume and can better balance the production,” Farmeschi said. “The SUV is still growing, and we realized there was no offer in the supersport SUV.
“We had a heritage, because we consider ourselves the first with a supersport with the LM002. (The Urus) came naturally out of that. You see the market condition, you see the history of the company, you merge those together. We decided to invest and create a project team working on the development, to merge the roominess and versatility for everyday use, with the technology of the engine and the suspension.”
Lamborghini regularly hosts driving programs for existing and potential customers, including a winter academy for cars on a frozen lake in Quebec next month. Adding the Urus now provides new opportunities, Farmeschi says, such as a combination of track and off-road driving for it.
The Urus is expected to account for half of all Lamborghini sales, with the Huracán taking 35 per cent, and the Aventador the remaining 15 per cent. In 2017, the automaker sold 3,850 cars worldwide. When Urus ramps up to full production, Farmeschi says about 4,000 will be made each year.
“We expect a level where we can serve the market, but we don’t want to flood it,” he says. “We need to keep it rare. The rule in the segment is always to make one less, because as soon as you do one more, it’s not exclusive anymore.”
For now, it will also be available only as one model, and Farmeschi says any variants are still up in the air. “Our task is to launch well this product,” he says. “It’s a big step for us, and we need to prove the market. Once we have done this, we will see what can be done, but at the moment, our priority is to have this successful. Then we will see what will come.”