After driving it on a race track, we find out how the more powerful Urus fares on our roads.
Published on Mar 09, 2023 01:00:00 PM
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PAAR-FOUR-MAAN-TAY. Yeah, that's how the Italians pronounce it. Say it again. That’s it. And, as we’ve seen in the past, Performante editions are hardcore, performance-oriented versions of cars that are, well, already seriously performance oriented.
Now, we’ve already driven the Urus Performante on a race track, but this is our first time out with the car on our roads; over the lumps, bumps, humps that make up what we in general call tarmac. We’ll also get to drive on a regular ‘ghat’ road, which will again tell us exactly how good this car is in our conditions. We’ll also get to experience Rally mode on a purpose-built dirt circuit.
It may look like just another Urus with more aggressive trim, but Lamborghini really has ‘pulled apart’ the stock Urus and infused it with an all-new animal spirit.
The tweaked 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 now puts out 666hp, 16hp more than the outgoing Urus.
First up the engine, which has been massaged to now deliver 666hp from the twin-turbo V8. The engine makes around 16hp more, which doesn’t seem like much, but remember there’s now more power on hand at just about any engine speed. And as we’ll see later, the manner in which it has tuned the V8 is also quite aggressive.
The Urus Performante gets a sportier suspension and rides 20mm lower than before.
Increase in power apart, the Urus is also lighter, lower and comes with a sportier suspension. It’s lighter because the air springs have been done away with to reduce weight, and there’s a new lighter titanium Akrapovic exhaust system. And these changes, along with others like lighter wheels make the car 47kg lighter. The Urus Performante is also 20mm lower, with ground clearance at around 160mm, which will undoubtedly help when you are going hell for leather in a corner. What will also help is that the wheels have been pulled a further 16mm apart, so the track is wider.
The new, larger rear wing offers 38 percent of added downforce, increasing stability around corners.
To make it faster around corners and give it more stability at speed, it also gets 38 percent more downforce at the rear due to a new, larger wing. And there’s also a new bumper up front that has larger horizontal surfaces for more downforce. Along the bonnet, there are deeper cuts and creases for better airflow through and around the nose, and the alloys on this car are larger too – they now are huge 23s.
The Urus Performante’s cabin features alcantara trim, giving it a classy look.
Changes under the skin include a new Rally mode for performance driving and drifting in the dirt. The off-road modes present on the standard Urus have been deleted; with no air suspension there’s no change possible in ride height.
New Rally mode allows for performance driving and drifting in the dirt.
The insides of the Urus Performante are also covered in suede or ‘Alcantara’ and look extremely classy. This includes the dash, the door pads, the insides of the pillars and even the roof. The matte black interior also comes with optional red door handles. What’s unchanged is rear seat comfort. The seat is large and spacious, comfort is very good and it even gets a big 600-plus-litre boot.
The road that goes up Koli hills is just what we need. A tight, twisty ghat for the most part, it also has a few flowing corners strung together with some longish straights. When it’s empty and devoid of traffic, such as in the mornings, it can be a real treat.
Sport mode sharpens up the suspension, throttle responses, steering and the exhaust.
As I select Sport, I feel the Performante hunker down and get ready for action. Everything tightens up like I’ve pulled the laces on my shoes. The suspension, the dampers the active anti-roll bars, the throttle responses, the steering; even the exhaust sounds brassier, louder and with pops and bangs on overrun.
As I begin to use more throttle and go quicker, it feels so much more on top of the ball, so much more alive, more wired, with an excess of energy that just comes surging through. The midrange is so strong it feels possessed, demonic almost. You can imagine the injectors spraying with a vengeance and the turbos ramming air down the throat of the engine. The ramp-up in the midrange is mad, and I absolutely love the whip-like responses of this engine. Also, you don’t so much as shift as you snatch gears, the gears selecting like rifle shots – crack, crack.
As I turn into a few corners, it feels instantly different too. The nose darts in like a ferret homing in on a quarry. The steering feels quicker straight off the bat and the body control is so good, you can go from one corner to the next without the SUV rolling too much. In fact, it feels so planted, after a bit you completely forget this is an SUV.
The Urus Performante exhibits great body control and feels planted in corners.
The process of corner carving is also infused with the massive grip from the big tyres, and you get a helping hand from the torque vectoring from the rear. And once you work up a rhythm, you can even start hurling the Urus into corners, especially when you select Corsa or track mode. It’s not quite a supercar experience, but, for a high-riding car, this comes as a big surprise. Remember, it has 160mm of ground clearance.
The nose darts into tight corners as if it were much lighter and much lower to the ground.
You still feel the bulk as the Urus begins to break traction, and the rear can’t quite keep up with the nose when you are on maximum attack, so you need to smoothen out steering inputs. Still, the Performante ups driving pleasure over the regular Urus by a big margin, and in many ways, this is the super SUV the Urus should have always been.
Even more entertaining is Rally mode. This is especially if you are on a dirt track with long, wide corners. In this mode, the updated Torsen centre differential delivers more torque to the rear wheels, reducing understeer, and the various systems conspire to help you slide and drift the car.
Firm low-speed ride is due to the stiff springs and large 23-inch wheels.
The four-wheel drive system initially sends power to all four wheels and this causes some hesitation. But once you are firmly on the gas, power delivery and balance shift nicely to the rear, and the quick steering and the active anti-roll bars help make this a simply thrilling experience. Steering with your right foot and counter steering with the steering wheel, what could be better.
The ride, however, is firm, especially at low speeds, and the stiff springs and 23-inch wheels cause the Urus to thud-thud over lumps and bumps in the road. And some of the bigger bumps even get the Performante to hop and skip over large ridges and potholes. The ride settles down as you go faster, but you still need to get off the gas when you encounter a bad patch and not power through.
Lambo has upped the game with the Urus Performante, this much is clear. Performance is stronger and more manic, it attacks corners with much more resolve, and drive it hard and the sheer driving pleasure you can extract is much higher. With its new titanium exhaust from Akrapovic, it even sounds better. Much, much better.
With its lowered and stiffer suspension and upsized 23-inch wheels, ride, however, is revealing. And at Rs 4.22 crore, there’s the small matter of it costing over a crore more than a regular Urus. So, is it worth the extra money? Absolutely; and especially if you are looking at using the Urus Performante as a fun car for the weekends and early morning or late night drives. Owners looking at using it as everyday transport, however, will be better off going in for smaller wheels, or better still, a regular Urus that rides better.
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