lamborghini urus performante review: camouflaged suv tested

Oh no, not another Lamborghini SUV! 

You’re not still banging that drum, are you? Yes, there was controversy around the Urus when it launched in 2018, some calling an SUV from Sant’Agata pure sacriledge, conveniently ignoring it has the Rambo Lambo LM002 in its back catalogue. But like most manufacturers that have waded into the world of SUVs for the first time, it’s been a transformative product for the company, and now makes up 40 per cent of total sales. Recently the 20,000th Urus rolled off the production line. It’s the car that makes the cash that can be ploughed into imminent replacements for the Aventador and Huracan, endless hardcore special editions and the all-electric 2+2 GT that’s on the horizon, so we probably shouldn’t complain.

Point taken, what’s this version then? 

This is the Urus Performante, the lighter, faster, sharper, stiffer, generally angrier and definitely more expensive variant that we all knew was coming sooner or later. The camouflage is because we got a chance to drive it at the Nardo proving ground in Italy a few months ago, but are only allowed to tell you about it now, at the same time as the car’s full reveal with all the technical details. You can read that story here.

Let me guess, power output has increased to something silly, north of 700bhp?  

Refreshingly, no. The time and money has been spent on whipping the chassis into shape. Power from the 4.0 twin-turbo V8 increases by a mere 16bhp to 657bhp, while thanks to a strict diet of carbon fibre (most notably for the bonnet, roof and slathered all over the interior) overall weight is reduced by 47kg. Torque stays at 627lb ft as does the 191mph top speed, the 0-62mph time drops from 3.6 to 3.3 though, thanks in part to 10 per cent less drag, despite overall downforce increasing by eight per cent. Air suspension is swapped for steel springs and adaptive dampers, the steering is recalibrated for a more direct feel, while the rear steering is quicker to intervene… and the price for all this honing and fettling? £204,312. Don’t forget the £12.

It looks a bit… Mansory?

Harsh, but fair. That’s mainly down to the exposed carbon bonnet. And the pointier body work around the nose. And the fact that is sits 20mm lower than the standard car with a 16mm wider track. And the fact that you can get up to 23-inch wheels. OK, you get the picture, it’s not a subtle car, but then we’re told of the 400 colours available metallic purple is ‘popular’… clearly the target customer isn’t in the same postcode as subtle. Around the back you get a deeper diffuser, a titanium Akrapovic exhaust as standard and a roof spoiler that looks a little apologetic, but apparently makes a small contribution to keeping you glued to the road, or track.

What’s it like on track? 

Brilliant in a way that no SUV should be. Just like Porsche steadily erased the 911’s unwanted arse-engined handling traits, so Lamborghini have gone into battle with physics and come out victorious. I remember the standard car being unnecessarily good on track when it was launched four years ago… but the Performante is noticeably better at everything. Like the way it turns in with puppy-dog eagerness – just breathe on the steering and the front end is off, but that’s OK because overall stability is phenomenal. Straight away it feels more compact and connected to the road, letting you carve out fast turns without bobbing around on the suspension or worrying about tumbling into understeer.

It sounds angrier at full chat, which you’d expect, but is actually a calmer experience on track despite higher speeds, which you wouldn’t. That’s because it feels entirely at home here, it does what you ask, the brakes are up to the job and the Pirelli Trofeo R tyres (look for the curly ‘L’ on the sidewall indicating it’s a bespoke compound for Lamborghini and this car) make a big difference. Will the big sacrifice be comfort and useability on the road? Can’t tell you yet, we didn’t get a go on public tarmac… but we did have a go in the dirt.

You mean, you actually took it off-road? 

Better than that, we took it to Nardo’s Strada Bianca – a dust track carved into the hillside – to test one of the Performante’s USPs – Rally mode. According to Lamborghini it “elevates the Super SUV’s fun-to-drive sportiness to a thrilling new level on dirt tracks. Its oversteer character is amplified with anti-roll and damping systems optimized for steel springs on rough and more extreme surfaces, raising the bar for a new level of Super SUV performance.” According to us it’s the most fun we’ve had in a long time.

Scandi-flicking this two-tone-plus hulk into corners, holding slow but acute-angled four-wheel drifts and hoofing it down the straight pinging off crests and hollows wasn’t just an impressive demo of the car’s durability, and the engineering team’s ability to fine tune the ESP system, but Lamborghini’s sense of humour. An awareness that something silly and unnecessary to talk about with your friends and family is exactly what the customer wants. Let’s just hope Urus Performante buyers actually slide it about a bit, ey, and don’t just stick to the school run.

Keyword: Lamborghini Urus Performante review: camouflaged SUV tested

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