The Lamborghini Urus Performante is not your average super SUV. In the world of super cars, where every increment to the output is welcome, every kilo of weight shed is rejoiced, and performance is measured in ratios and not absolutes, the Urus Performante is an all-new Lambo worth the wait. After all, it is 47 kg lighter, and generates 16 hp more power, adding up to a devilish peak of 666 hp compared to the Urus. If that isn’t a good enough reason to grab the chance to get behind the wheel, it would help to remember that this could well be one of the last non-electrified Lambos to roll out of Sant’Agata Bolognese.
And so, even as spy shots of a plug-in hybrid Urus in camouflage livery were doing the rounds on the net, I headed to Bengaluru for my date with the Urus Performante. It may not look as radical as the Aventador or even the Huracan. A super sports car’s magnetism is difficult to beat. But, for an SUV, the Urus is still quite stunning, leaving you with no doubt about its capabilities even when standing still. It is practical too, with its raised body stance, higher seating position for the driver, and big boot. No wonder the Urus has been such a hit in the Indian market; the only other Lambo that may be able to handle our driving conditions would be the Huracan Sterrato, which also gets off-road capable ground clearance. But unlike the Sterrato and the top performance limitations that it must live with, the Urus Performante doesn’t need a reduction in power or a speed limiter. This Super SUV’s 4-litre, twin-turbocharged, V8 engine is capable of powering it up to a top speed of 306 kmph and a 0-100 kmph sprint in 3.3 seconds.
But, like the Huracan Sterrato, the Urus Performante gets a few changes to aid its performance off-road. The addition of a “Rally Mode” is one, and the other is the coil-spring suspension setup compared to the air suspension of the Urus. So, the Urus Performante is sprung stiffer and can handle rough and tumble better. But, while it can dismiss a dirt road with nary a wheeze, it can’t climb mountains. This is ultimately a supercar. The Urus Performante’s design helps it deal with the demands that the ambient conditions may place on it. So, the front fender has been redesigned (compared to the Urus) for increasing airflow and improving engine cooling. The bonnet is a carbon-fibre unit with sharper creases that hint at a power dome, and it also gets a pair of air vents now tucked into the crease. Some of the changes lead to a marginal increase in dimensions for the Performante, including the length and width, but the ride height is lower by about 2 cm.
The rear design stands out with classic Lamborghini criss-crossing of triangular elements and the Y theme. The dual-twin titanium exhausts, the carbon-fibre diffuser, and the fender are redesigned, and the additional elements in carbon-fibre like the roof spoiler with its bolt-on side fins give the rear design more Performante character. The spoiler is also said to increase downforce by up to 38 per cent. The side profile hasn’t changed much except for some badging and the special 23-inch alloys you see in these pictures. These are optional additions instead of the standard 22-inch rims; the other optional addition is the carbon-fibre roof. In fact, Lamborghini has always been a big user of carbon-fibre as a lightweight material. And you’ll also find a lot of that inside the cabin of the Urus Performante.
I start off the test drive behind the wheel of a Red (Rosso in Lambo speak) Urus Performante with a planned drive along the relatively short, winding stretch up Nandi Hills just outside Bengaluru. They say to truly understand a supercar, one needs to live with one. But, not so lucky folks too can appreciate how driver-focused and yet how comfortable the cabin feels. The Urus is a family super SUV, and it is meant to offer all-occupant comfort without stepping down on the experience it offers. All the controls fall into my hands, and individual controls literally define your experience. Obviously, this being a Lambo cabin, it must have its share of dramatic actuators and controls, like the aircraft-style start button and the ‘Anima’ handle to engage the different modes. The additional slot in the Anima is the “Rally” mode.
I head out as part of a convoy of three, with the Urus Performante’s exhaust alternatively purring and burbling in delight with light throttle inputs. On the straights, it is difficult to come to terms with this Lambo’s acceleration, and it is not easy to judge its speed before one realises that a speed limit has potentially been violated. The V8 engine’s peak torque kicks in early, at about 2,300 rpm. So, all that 850 Nm is available, and much of that is being sent to the rear wheels via the new Torsten centre differential during hard acceleration. I shift from Strada (regular road) to Sport and immediately start to feel the changes in the character of the Urus Performante. Somewhat like a feral cat’s taut posture before a pounce, the pedal response is quicker, the exhaust growl is louder, and the steering feels distinctly more agile. If only we could get steering that is as precise in our everyday cars!
Blasting through the bends and the hairpins on the hill climb, I barely scratch the surface of the Urus Performante’s true potential. But, it is still great fun to feel the physicality of every gearshift and hear the growl echoing off the hillsides. Stomp the pedal with the wheel still pointing into the turn, and the Urus Performante rewards you with a quick rear wheel spin. A short counter-correct and it is back to turning the window scenery into a blur, leaving behind some burnt rubber and a smoke trail. But, even more than in their sports cars, the Urus leaves you feeling that you are in control. If you do want to tinker with and individualise the dynamics of the Urus Performante, then the settings for the steering, suspension, and traction control can be adjusted using the aptly named ‘Ego’ mode.
But, the mode I was itching to try out was the Rally mode, and for that, the next stop was the dirt track at the Bren Raceway. When completed, this will be a FIA Grade 2 certified track, but for now it is a flat track with a hard red clay surface. The perfect playground for the Urus Performante. After the safety drill, with the balaclava and helmet on, I slip back into my test mule and switch to Rally mode. I was only going to get a few laps, so getting into the rhythm of braking, turning wide to mid into the corners, and going full-throttle mid-turn was something I knew I had to settle into fast. I quickly discovered that the Rally mode can be addictively fun. The Rally mode is specially tuned to provide for oversteer, and this is onboard tech that sort of allows for controlled oversteer. On the straights, while doing 160 kmph, the Urus Performante feels a tad floaty, but there is no loss of traction or any less grip from the Pirelli P Zero ZR tyres. Approaching a corner, I brake hard, start to take the turn wide, and then half-in, floor the pedal. The rear slides out of the line being taken, I’m left facing the rocks on the side of the track, and the wheel is still pointing into the turn while my foot is still seeking more power. Just when I think that I may have overcooked it, and wrest at the wheel, the Urus Performante literally seems to throw in the traction, making it a controlled drift. I didn’t even lift off the throttle, and it just powers back up into the straight. The most grin-inducing corners that Lambo instructors had set up were the ones that started narrow and slow but opened up into a wide arc, allowing me to get full-turn drifts. All in, it was a good day spent understanding the new Urus Performante and the new Rally mode in what would be the best combo of driving conditions. And imagine you could do that with the entire family packed in with more than a weekend worth of luggage loaded into the 616-litre trunk. Prices for the Urus Performante start at ₹4.22 crore.
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