Lamborghini has dropped its biggest hint yet that its forthcoming Urus SUV will be the brand’s first plug-in hybrid.
The SUV is due in 2018, and has already been previewed by a concept seen at Pebble Beach in 2012.
And while it is taking the Italian supercar brand into unfamiliar territory in terms of bodystyle, it looks almost certain to herald powertrain developments too.
CEO Stephan Winkelmann told Auto Express: “The SUV has a big advantage if you want to do a plug-in hybrid, because with the packaging it is much easier with the power-to-weight ratio. A car like this does not suffer the additional space and weight of the batteries.
“It is something we are thinking about, but if I had to say which is the first car that will have some form of electrification, I would immediately blindfolded say SUV.”
Lambo has already demonstrated its potential capability in this area with the Asterion concept which appeared at the Paris Motor Show in 2014 and featured a 602bhp V10 engine with a battery pack and twin electric motors for a total of 897bhp.
Winkelmann also spelled out what else we can expect from the Urus. He continued: “You will immediately recognise that it cannot be anything else than a Lamborghini. It is changing [from the concept car] but for the better.
“It has to be a daily usable car that can get you comfortably from A to B, yet it has to have a lot of power in terms of acceleration and also top speed.”
Lamborghini has its sights set on eclipsing stablemate Bentley’s Bentayga as the fastest SUV in the world. The Bentayga does 0-60mph in four seconds and has a 187mph top speed, but Winkelmann said: “We will do our best,” when challenged if his car would beat it.
Unlike the seven-seat Bentayga and Audi Q7, with which which the Urus will share its architecture, the Urus will have a maximum of four or possibly five seats.
Meanwhile, the brand is believed to be close to securing a deal for small manufacturer exemption from European emissions rules.
Lamborghini previously confirmed that it will build an SUV based on the Urus concept for launch in 2018. The brand plans to build 3,000 examples of the Urus SUV, and it is predicted to double the company's current annual sales. It'll see huge investment in Lambo's Italian factory, bringing new jobs and further financial stability.
Lambo is keeping its cards close to its chest with details of the new "luxury SUV", which will become the third production model in its lineup after the Huracan and Aventador sports cars. But Lamborghini immediately makes reference to the dramatic Urus concept, first seen at the Beijing Motor Show in 2012.
The production version will undoubtedly share much of that the Urus' styling when it goes on sale in 2018, including the aggressive front end inspired by the Aventador and the steeply raked, coupe-like roofline. We also expect it to ride on the VW Group's new 'MLB' platform architecture that underpins the new Audi Q7 and forthcoming Bentley Bentayga.
The Lamborghini Urus concept’s Chinese unveiling shows the market that Lamborghini is clearly targeting. China's premium SUV sector is rapidly booming, and is considered the reason that high-end carmakers such as Rolls Royce and Bentley will be joining the fray. However, Lambo also cites the USA, the Middle East, Russia, Germany and the UK as key markets for the car.
Despite the global ambitions for the Urus, CEO Stephan Winkelmann claims the SUV will keep its Italian identity, "safeguarding the values of 'Made in Italy' worldwide". It will see "hundreds of millions of Euros" invested in Lambo's Sant' Agata Bolognese factory to make it capable of building 3,000 Urus examples. the plant will nearly double in size to 150,000 sq.m, and 500 new jobs are promised on the production line and in extended research and development facilities.
Audi chairman Rupert Stadler said: "We have proven once more our commitment to Italy as an important automotive industrial nation". The company cites potential customers as Lambo supercar owners "who to date have driven SUV models for other brands", as well as a raft of first-time Lamborghini buyers.
Details of what will power the SUV are thin on the ground, but the Urus concept did feature a naturally aspirated V10 engine. Since then Winkelmann has told Auto Express that "an SUV could be a turbo engine for the first time for us", and that's likely to be the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 seen in the Audi RS6 and Bentley Continental GT. Figures of up to 600bhp are rumoured, with Stadler commenting the new SUV "definitely won’t be a softie.”
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