hybrid v8, anyone?
Lamborghini Very Likely Planning More Powerful, Rally-Ready Versions of Urus
Lamborghini swung for the fences with its Urus SUV — and it hit a home run. The Italian’s high-sided people carrier’s aggressive design and unrelenting performance have seen it leap to the top of wish lists of buyers everywhere. Accordingly, sales have been strong, with Lambo’s overall units moved jumping up 51 percent in 2018 thanks solely to the Urus.
How do you keep a good thing going? By planning variants and each moment of the future for the model line. So last week at Monterey Car Week in California, we caught up with Lamborghini’s chief commercial officer Frederico Foschini to dive into what’s coming downfield for the newest bull in the pen.
How does Lamborghini see the Urus line progressing?
We are very satisfied with the sales and trend of the SUV segment today. We still see enormous potential to be exploited, but we remember we need to manage every life cycle. Because sales are so strong, they’re game-changing, we’re going to leave it alone for the next 12 to 24 months. We are working on some versions that would come after that.
Would it be fair to assume a hybrid is in the works at some point?
For sure. We will introduce a hybrid but that’s more in the medium term. This generation is about petrol and combustion engines, so hybrid is the next step.
Your fellow Volkswagen Group brand Bentley went down to a six-cylinder engine when it hybridized the Bentayga. Would you follow a similar path for the Urus?
With petrol, we’d never drop it down to a six-cylinder. There was a discussion about this but we concluded that a six-cylinder is not an engine for a Lamborghini because the power was not enough. The hybridization will be done on the V-8. Our DNA is driving emotion, performance, and design, and with a six-cylinder engine, it’s difficult to deliver emotion and performance. When you go hybrid, you will add a lot of weight and a six-cylinder won’t have enough power to make it fast. If we have to go to hybrid, it’ll be with the right combustion engine.
So in the short term, you’ll work with the same current twin-turbo V-8 engine to create other versions and derivates?
What about an SVJ version of the Urus?
Everyone is expecting something like that. I can’t discuss the next model in detail, but just like how we created the SVJ as the top of the line of the Aventador, we could do something similar here. It’s equally important to work on the weight as you work on the power so that ratio stays very healthy.
Where do you trim the fat on that SUV?
Materials. Some parts and components can become carbon fiber or other lighter materials. You can also work on reducing the features of dynamic control. If you want to have some effect on a car that now weighs close to two tons, the target should be at least 100 [kilograms], ideally 150 kilos. With that deficit, you’ll have a very different driving behavior.
Will tinkering with the dynamic control compromise how the Urus handles off-road?
Maybe. If we’re discussing a higher-output variant, you may have to compromise a bit. If you want a car that is an everyday car with all the possibilities, there is a standard Urus that is incredible on the track, super-performing off-road, comfortable and smooth on the road. But if you want something more extreme, maybe you won’t care about the off-road capability if you get better handling and dynamic behavior on the road and track.
What percentage of the customers that are currently buying it that are taking it off-road?
Not many. Maybe 10 percent of our Urus customers really take the car off-road. Most of them are daily driving it and some of them are using it on the track. If you drive just one lap in this car, it’s so incredible, after one lap, you’ll forget you’re in an SUV. The feeling and seating position and dynamic behavior of the car are so extreme that it behaves like a super sports car. But, to go back to your question, it’s clear not many are using it off-road. More urban environments or grand touring.
Would you ever build an off-road-only one-off? Something that could bash around the Baja 1000?
We are thinking about that as a possibility. The platform is so incredibly strong which offers us so many opportunities. We are definitely considering a rally version now that would be the backbone of a one-make championship series like we do with Super Trofeo. We are preparing a prototype now and thinking about where we could hold these half-road, half-dirt races. In one or two years, we’ll unveil that project, but it’s all being conceptualized now.