Lamborghini Automobili likes to win, and as it celebrates its 60th anniversary into 2023, the iconic luxury car brand has been smashing records and winning accolades in some surprising places. Famed for its fossil-fuel guzzling V10 and V12 engines, the marque perhaps incongruously recently won the “Sustainability Achievement of the Year” gong at Newsweek’s World’s Greatest Disruptors Awards.
The award followed the launch of Lamborghini’s first foray into vehicle electrification with the hybrid V12 Rivuelo hyper car. It had also just recorded its best-ever calendar year of sales driven by an appetite among Australians for Lamborghinis that shows no sign of slowing.
By April 2023, Lamborghini sales were up 13 per cent on where they were at the same time last year, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), the automotive industry’s governing body. And all this at a time when Covid-related semiconductor- and chip-supply shortages, along with ongoing delivery bottlenecks, continued to wreak havoc on the global automobile industry.
The real gamechanger for Lamborghini, however – and the vehicle responsible for the brand’s raging popularity – has been the Urus. After its 2018 launch, the “super SUV” quickly became Lamborghini’s biggest-selling model globally, with more than 21,000 units delivered over four years. In 2022, it made up 5367 of the record 9233 Lamborghinis sold, the first time global sales had topped 9000 (the previous peak being 8405).
That may go some way to explaining why there are so many Uruses on Australian roads these days. Lamborghini says up to 85 per cent of those who buy them are new to the brand, many of them women. Frankly, it’s a vehicle anyone might get used to as their daily drive despite its outrageous track-focused DNA.
That popularity is expected to grow apace if the new, souped-up variant of the SUV, the Urus Performante, is any guide. Madam Wheels attended its Australasian reveal recently and, while we didn’t get to drive it, the specs and visuals make for what promises to be a wicked ride.
This car is lighter, lower and encased in carbon-fibre, with wings, air curtains, outlets and body lines that not only look great but help keep the Performante planted while aerodynamically enhancing its speed. It gains menace-appeal with a lower stance delivered via traditional steel springs which replace the previous variant’s adaptive air suspension. They’ll make for a stiffer ride but, coupled with the lower centre of gravity, should deliver a more dynamic ground-hugging and corner-carving experience.
By way of proving the Urus’s “Performante” cred, Lamborghini skipped the Nürburgring Ring and headed to the famed Pikes Peak International Hillclimb. It set a new Production SUV record of 10:32.064 – a 17-second improvement on the previous best time – with 0-100km/h acceleration of just 3.3 seconds and a 100 to 0km/h braking distance of 32.9m.
While owners are unlikely to push their cars to such limits, the Pikes Peak example demonstrates Lamborghini’s capabilities and staying power, says APAC Regional Manager Peter Crombie-Brown. Lamborghinis are designed to run flat-out on a track, time and time again, all day, to ensure they’re reliable, he says.
“What we don’t want is a car where you do that once or twice and you need to get the thing fully overhauled,” Crombie-Brown says. “This is a car that will keep coming back for more.”
Despite its beastly nature, its interior includes all the luxuries and capabilities you would hope and expect to find in a high-end car. The Nero Cosmos black Alcantara seen here comes as standard with a new “Performante Trim” design of hexagonal stitching in the seats. Owners may choose to extend the dedicated trim to the doors, roofline and headrests.
We particularly like the idea of the new Rally drive mode alongside the standard Strada, Sport and Corsa modes. It switches off safety features and enables increased wheelspin and oversteer ability in the dirt. Sounds like a hoot.
Whether you’d want to do such a thing in a vehicle with a starting price of $A465,876 (before on-road costs) is another matter. Crombie-Brown says he expects sales to benefit from a cashed-up population emerging from Covid lockdowns ready to spend. During Covid, Australian households are estimated to have amassed an extra $300 billion in savings above what they might otherwise have put aside, according to Reserve of Australia Governor Philip Lowe. Add to that the fact that one of the biggest inhibitors to buying a luxury car is the European holiday, which was off the cards for those years.
So, women who like to drive have more capacity than ever to go for a car like the Urus Performante that delivers on power, elegance, sportiness, luxury and prestige. They’ll have to wait for it, however. While customer deliveries are expected to start in May, new orders, face a wait time of at least 18 months.