One car’s name was on everyone’s lips at the Beijing motor show this week: the Lamborghini Urus. That Lamborghini’s been thinking about making an SUV is one of motoring’s worst-kept secrets. Lambo has seen sales go crazy in China and other parts of Asia, but several factors - the atrocious state of the roads, primarily - mean that many buyers in Asia would prefer a high-riding SUV to a low-slung sports car.
For Lamborghini, which is part of the Volkswagen group, the idea of making an SUV is a bit of a no-brainer. It knows it could sell enough each year to make a profit. There’s a platform – which will underpin the next generation Audi Q7, VW Touareg and Porsche Cayenne – it could use too, and, as a bonus, save loads of money.
Bentley is also part of the VW Group and thinking the same way. That’s why we got the pig-ugly EXP 9F concept in Geneva. Cruelly, in Beijing, the Lamborghini and Bentley stands sit opposite one another. The Urus just reinforces what an utter munter the EXP 9F is.
In a rather un-Lamborghini shade of cherry red, the Urus looks surprisingly compact. In the metal it definitely has presence and size on its side but there’s none of the drama that characterises the Aventador and Gallardo sports cars. It’s good looking, but shouldn’t Lamborghinis be bonkers, excessive, over-the-top things? From some angles there are hints of Range Rover Evoque (good) and some BMW X6 (bad).
Inside, however, there’s a very Lamborghini-like interior. White leather, put together in that fragmented-design aesthetic the company introduced on the Reventon, went down well. The big red "nuclear warhead arming" starter switch from the Aventador is present too, as is a carbon-fibre-derived skin covering lots of the surfaces. Lamborghini wants to lead in carbon fibre use, as it tries to make its cars lighter. A handy benefit of this is that it also looks awesome.
On the centre console, you’ll spot the integrated touch screen, which is repeated in the back so that rear passengers can control their own climate temperate, music and the like. Just a shame they were mock-ups on the concept car and not showing some cool, fighter-jet style graphics as other recent Lamborghinis have done.
Of course, the Urus is just a concept and there aren’t yet any firm plans for production. But as we said, there’s no reason Lamborghini couldn’t make this car. Given the potential market, we’d put serious money on a Lamborghini SUV making it into production in the next three years.
The question is, should it? When Porsche developed the Cayenne, lovers of the 911 accused the company of abandoning everything it had previously stood for. The irony was that the Cayenne went on to make Porsche into the most profitable car company in the world, allowing it to improve the 911 and make even more derivatives.
So what do you think? Lamborghini SUV: smart move and a sign of changing times, or a brand selling out and simply following the crowd?