A HYBRID drivetrain and (gasp) even a high-performance diesel engine could power Lamborghini’s Urus SUV, says company CEO Stephan Winkelmann.
Speaking to Wheels at the Huracan LP580-2 launch in Qatar in December, Winkelmann confirmed the production Urus will arrive in 2018 and is likely to be “the first Lamborghini to have more than one engine and one model”.
A new 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 is already confirmed to power Lamborghini’s first SUV in 30 years – the last was the LM002 built from 1986-93 (pictured above) – but Winkelmann added that “one [option] for sure is a diesel, but even more is hybridisation”.
Lamborghini is unlikely to develop its own plug-in hybrid drivetrain, instead leveraging opportunities within the wider Volkswagen group. Porsche and Audi already have hybrid models built off the same all-wheel-drive platform as the Urus, and Bentley is rumoured to be working on a hybrid version of the forthcoming Bentayga SUV.
“For me the first opportunity to have hybridisation is in packaging which is less likely to be jeopardised by weight and power-to-weight ratio - an SUV more than a super sports car,” says Winkelmann.
But don’t think the Urus will act as a test bed for hybrid or turbocharged successors to the Huracan and Aventador. Winkelmann says Lambo’s sports cars won’t be ditching their big-capacity, naturally aspirated drivetrains anytime soon.
“For now we say naturally aspirated for the super sports cars, and we are looking into every opportunity in terms of innovation. One day maybe turbos are going to be better, one day the power-to-weight ratio for hybridisation is going to be better, or even go [to] a full electric car. We’re not saying ‘no’ to anything. Innovation is key for the success of Lamborghini, but not to all cars in every field because this will be disruptive of the DNA.”
Chances of a high-performance turbo-diesel Urus could get a shot in the arm via Audi’s extensive research into electrically driven turbochargers. The so-called ‘e-compressor’ technology uses its own 48-volt source to deliver instant power and torque at low revs – an area where exhaust-driven turbos are notoriously lethargic.
“The electric bi-turbo … boosts sprinting ability and torque and enables high peak power,” ex-Audi R&D boss Ulrich Hackenberg said in May 2015. “In our TDI engines, we are close to production readiness with this technology.”
Lamborghini won’t offer a hybrid or diesel Urus at launch; the sole drivetrain will be the V8TT, which Winkelmann says will be a brand new unit developed by Lamborghini and not in partnership with Audi as previously reported.
Pitched to be the world’s fastest SUV, the Urus is expected to double Lamborghini’s current sales volume, which will exceed 3000 cars for the first time in 2015.
“This is the idea; to have the two super sports cars doing 50 percent and the Urus doing the other 50 percent. So we see Huracan and Aventador doing between 2000 and 3000 cars, and the Urus doing the same so we can reach our maximum between 5000 and 6000.
“Our dealers tell us there are a lot of people who do not own Lamborghinis coming in to put down payments for a car that is coming in three years’ time.”
Despite this growth potential, Winkelmann insists the Urus won’t harm Lamborghini’s exclusivity, which he says is a crucial brand value.
“We are sure [it will] not. It’s a segment which is growing worldwide in every region in which it’s present. It’s a segment which also has a history with Lamborghini. So even if we are going to more or less double the volumes of today with a new car, still it is very exclusive. It’s not going to happen that you see a Lamborghini every day.”
Winkelmann (pictured above) added there are no plans to build a family of SUVs, saying the investment required just to get the Urus into production by 2018 had stretched the company.
“We are stretching ourselves to get the first new model … so for the time being a third model is the maximum we can achieve for this decade.”
The SUVs that ate the world
Winkelmann on the world’s hunger for SUVs: “If you look at what is happening in other car companies, they are building an SUV line-up which is a shadow line-up of the passenger-car one. So you will see down the road in maybe 10 years, they will cancel some of the normal cars because the segment is not so big anymore and it is not worth investing in anymore. You have to emulate.”