Lamborghini Urus Performante test drive: SUV is a galloping success ahead of UAE launch

The Raging Bull's bigger, beefier series has a significantly upgraded newcomer

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When Lamborghini — a brand synonymous with waist-high hypercars — rolled out the Urus SUV in 2018, naysayers were predictably sceptical.

The hulking machine simply wasn’t a Lambo, they argued. It would dilute the brand’s core values, they insisted.

Today, the company’s financial results prove adding an all-terrain member to its line-up was a canny move. The bigger, beefier Raging Bull has galloped ahead and now forms 60 per cent of the company's sales.

With thrusting sharp looks, and astounding straight-line pace and cornering agility, there’s little to fault in the Urus’s performance recipe. However, there’s always scope to up the ante — just as there are always willing buyers for newcomers, especially faster ones.

Cue the Urus Performante, which builds on the standard vehicle’s dynamism. Despite shedding 47 kilograms, it has gained muscle via subtle tweaks to its 4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine. The chassis and aero package have also been upgraded to yield a vehicle that’s quicker around a racetrack, yet not at the expense of day-to-day drivability.

Need for speed

Our first taste of the Urus Performante was at the dauntingly fast and undulating Nardo Handling Track in the south-eastern tip of Italy. After a few familiarisation laps, it became clear the 1.6-metre-tall SUV can be tipped into corners at speeds that barely seem credible for such a lofty chariot.

The specs

Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 666hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 850Nm at 2,300-4,500rpm
Transmission: 8-speed auto
On sale: Q1 2023
Price: from Dh1.15 million (estimate)

Apart from being mind-bogglingly rapid, the Peformante is also forgiving and adjustable in the middle of a corner, so drivers of all levels can tap into a good chunk of its dynamic ability. Reassuringly, the mighty carbon-ceramic brakes also provide strong and consistent retardation.

A subsequent thrash around the Strada Bianca gravel track at Nardo reveals how fun the Performante is on rough surfaces. Engaging rally mode via the Tamburo driving mode selector loosens the electronic safety net, enabling the SUV to be flung around with surprising ease, as no more than wrist flicks are required to correct oversteer slides.

Tweaks and additions

Optional Pirelli Trofeo R tyres are specially developed for the Urus Performante. Photo: Lamborghini

Due to be released in the UAE early next year, the Urus Performante is expected to be priced at about Dh1.15 million ($300,000). It’s a sizeable outlay, but the new derivative is the beneficiary of a raft of upgrades, which barely leave any facet untouched.

The engine tweaks are the least significant element of the Perfomante’s upgrades as an Akrapovic exhaust system and remapped engine control unit boosts power from the standard vehicle’s 650hp to 666hp, while the peak torque figure of 850Nm remains unchanged.

Lamborghini claims the Urus Performante makes greater use of carbon-fibre composite body parts than any other SUV, as the bonnet, front and rear bumpers, splitter, wheel arch extensions and rear diffuser are all fabricated from the material. These components are the main contributors to the weight reduction, although the Performante is still not slight and comes in at 2.15 tonnes. It still comes in about 70kg lighter than Porsche’s Cayenne Turbo GT.

The Performante’s aero package includes new black front air-intakes, which deliver increased engine cooling, while a new air curtain draws airflow over the front wheels to reduce drag. Those vents in the bonnet aren’t merely for show, they extract hot air from the engine and also contribute to aero efficiency. A newly designed spoiler sits in the back, using carbon-fibre fins to increase rear downforce by 38 per cent, according to Lamborghini.

'The National' drove the Urus Performante  in Italy. Photo: Lamborghini

The Performante, rather unexpectedly, ditches the standard Urus’s air suspension in favour of steel springs to lower the chassis by 20 millimetres and increase stiffness by 90 per cent at the front and 51 per cent at the rear.

The wheel tracks have also been pushed out by 16mm, while the pumped guards are filled by either 22-inch or 23-inch forged alloys. Also unique to the Performante are specially developed Pirelli Trofeo R tyres.

Calling connoisseurs

Is the Urus Performante worth the extra spend over the regular model, which starts from Dh842,930 ($229,000)? For many, the answer might be no, as the latter is already searingly fast and brimming with character. But for those who simply must have extra zing and visual pizzazz in their car collection, the Performante is an absolute hoot.

Updated: August 19, 2022, 6:00 AM
The specs

Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 666hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 850Nm at 2,300-4,500rpm
Transmission: 8-speed auto
On sale: Q1 2023
Price: from Dh1.15 million (estimate)

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