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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Lamborghini finally joins the 4x4 party

Urus is Italian company’s first utility since it halted production of the LM002 in 1993

The new Lamborghini Urus presented at the Lamborghini facility in Sant'Agata Bolognese, Bologna, Italy.  Georgio Benvenuti/EPA
The new Lamborghini Urus presented at the Lamborghini facility in Sant'Agata Bolognese, Bologna, Italy. Georgio Benvenuti/EPA

On Tuesday in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy, Lamborghini unveiled the Urus.

The long-awaited 4x4 fills the gap in the car maker’s line-up previously bereft of a utility vehicle. Lamborghini is among the last car firms worldwide to add a 4x4 or crossover to its portfolio of models.

Urus has a 650-horsepower, 4 litre V8 twin-turbo engine and gets 850 Nm of torque from a 4WD, eight-speed automatic transmission. It can hit 100kph mph in 3.6 seconds and will continue accelerating all the way to more than 300kph. The standard model rolls on 21-inch rims and comes with adaptive air suspension and carbon ceramic brakes, as well as active roll stabilisation.

Lamborghini-signature hexagonal shapes grace the air vents, door handles, and cup holders. It has seating for four or five, depending on whether the buyer chooses the rear bench seat or a 2+2 seating format. High-quality leather, alcantara, carbon fibre, and polished woods are replete throughout. This being Lamborghini, upgrades are always upgrades, such as 23-inch rims, a 1,700 watt Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system with 21 speakers, or an off-road package with reinforced bumpers and underfloor protection.

Urus also features new technologies for Lamborghini such as a rear tailgate that is electrically operated via a switch on the driver’s door, a button on the key, or a manual button on the tailgate itself. Users may find rear space lacking; the low roofline styling of the small “sport coupe” BMW X6 is apparent here as well, and rear-seat room in the X6 comes at a premium.

The US$200,000 vehicle is the Italian company’s first utility since it halted production of the LM002 in 1993. Company executives unveiled a concept of the rig five years ago, but this is the first time they have shown a real-life production version to the public. As has long been tradition at the car maker, the name Urus is derived from the world of bulls: Urus, also known as Aurochs, was one of the large, wild ancestors of today’s domesticated cattle.

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“Lamborghini is a hidden gem, and adding the Urus SUV will propel volume closer to Italian rival Ferrari,” said the Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Michael Dean. The model could lift the brand’s earnings by more than 50 per cent in 2019, Mr Dean said. The Urus will more than double the company's annual output of fewer than 3,500 units sold worldwide, according to Lamborghini.

Indeed, the addition of the Urus to Lamborghini’s otherwise extreme fleet of track-ready supercars - most outfitted with dihedral doors or outré spoilers that scream for attention - is intended to expand its appeal to both families and female buyers. It’s fairly small for a 4x4 and has multiple entertainment and personalisation settings meant to appeal to younger, cosmopolitan buyers or anyone looking for a Lamborghini he or she can comfortably use in places other than a racetrack.

The chief executive Stefano Domenicali has often said the Volkswagen Group-owned house is working to soften its tone from the racer-boy image of the past.

“A bull is always aggressive, but I would like to give us a new philosophy toward the future: A bull can be gentle,” he said last year.

About 5 per cent of the company’s global buyers are female, according to Lamborghini, and most of them live in the US and Europe. (In the US, women buy 53 per cent of all small 4x4s and 48 per cent of small premium 4x4s, according to J D Power & Associates.)

The 4x4 is also expected to help boost the brand in China, the world’s largest car market, where buyers prefer large saloons and crossovers. Last year Lamborghini sold a mere 188 units in China, compared with 303 in the UK, a market 90 per cent smaller.

Deliveries of the Urus start in Spring 2018.