Exclusively to PistonHeads Lambo boss Stephan Winkelmann sells the case for the controversial SUV
Nearly 200 comments in
and few of them favourable, it's clear the Lamborghini Urus hasn't been a huge hit with PHers. But if Beijing proves one thing, it's that the business case for such vehicles in emerging markets is going to see more and more, cough, diversification from brands we hold dear.
Winkelmann presents his new baby
Before he pulled the covers off the Urus at Beijing we spoke exclusively to Lamborghini boss Stephan Winkelmann, where he outlined, in some detail, how the Urus will - like it or not - fit in the Lambo range and how, and why, they've done it.
While Lamborghini has done better under Audi than any previous owner there was clear pressure to expand the product line-up to three models, the current two-car range apparently not enough to guarantee medium or long-term stability. "We looked at a smaller Gallardo, a 2+2, a sedan and an SUV," says Winkelmann. "To support a third model the segment has to be big enough, has to be worldwide, has to support a high-end price and it has to fit with the brand."
The Urus at Beijing, PH mob just out of shot
We now know what they chose. But why an SUV and not a saloon like the Estoque concept? "It is the segment of the future," says Winkelmann. "The sedan market is stable but dull. An SUV is more emotional. And it has to be a Lamborghini. It has to be dynamic, the design has to be extreme even if it is on a group platform."
Ah yes, the inevitable group platform. This'll be based on the next Touareg foundations and Lamborghini isn't yet confirming where the production Urus will be built. It'll be smaller than the show car as a result too, the concept at Beijing deliberately oversized to cause a bigger splash. Like it needed to. "We want it to be light but this is not a priority," says Winkelmann. "Handling and usability for daily driving are the priority though."
The face of daily usability, Lambo style
What of that styling? A Lamborghini is never going to be shy and retiring and, arguably, it's done a better job than Bentley of transposing brand values onto an SUV. But it's not been a smooth ride, as the PH comments thread will attest. "You cannot expect your customers to have something everyone hates," admits Winkelmann, while saying he admires the Evoque's styling and positioning. "It has to be an object of desire for everyone."
That debate will rage on yet but what about the nuts and bolts? At least 600hp has been confirmed but exactly how that'll be delivered remains a secret for now. Would Lamborghini consider a diesel? "Not if we have one engine, no, but if we have two engines ... maybe," says Winkelmann. "An SUV is better for hybridisation though."
Get used to it, because Lambo needs it
Hybrids, daily usability, appealing to women who drive SUVs ... this is all new ground for Lamborghini and a far cry from the kind of uncompromisingly wild supercars the brand is built on. The LM002, described as a cult car by Winkelmann, does give Lambo a degree of previous on which to launch into this segment. But how much goodwill there'll be from existing customers rather than the new ones the Urus aims at remains to be seen.