The Performante has been the moniker for faster and more agile raging bulls, but can it work on an SUV?
Taking a car that rides high off the ground and defying the limits of physics wasn’t enough for Lamborghini. They want to “Raise the bar” with the Urus, enough for it to justify the Performante nameplate. So, does it have a massive jump in power? Not really. It has 666hp, and while it is a nice devilish number, it’s just 16hp more than the previous Urus and the same as the Urus S. Torque remains the same, at 850Nm, which is the maximum the gearbox can handle.
But in tune with the ‘Performante’ approach, changes are elsewhere. Lambo put the Urus on a diet, toned up the handling and added a whole lot of aero, and to prove the point, took it to Pike’s Peak, where it set the record for a production SUV. And recently, we were lucky enough to check it out in Italy.
Lamborghini Urus Performante: interior and exterior
Urus Performante gets new carbon fibre elements along with redesigned air intakes.
The Urus’ diet means there’s extensive use of carbon fibre, like on the bonnet, roof (optional), fins, wheel arches, front bumper and rear diffuser. Lambo got rid of the bulky air suspension setup and traded it for regular coil springs, which has also lowered the Urus to the ground by 20mm, further aiding handling. An ultra-light titanium exhaust system shaves off a massive 10.4kg, and with additional savings from interior materials, rims and wheels, the Performante is now 47kg lighter.
The dual-tone variant lets you know exactly where the carbon fibre is on the outside. There are some styling tweaks, too, with deeper cuts in the bonnet, a new front bumper and redesigned air intakes with larger surface areas on the horizontal parts to create more downforce. New aerodynamic alloys come in either 22- or 23-inch sizes, shod with specially designed Pirelli P Zero tyres. For track days, customers can also get the higher-spec P Zero Trofeos.
Replacing the air suspension system with coil springs has reduced the ground clearance by 20mm.
At the rear, there is a new Aventador-inspired rear spoiler and a new carbon-fibre diffuser that extends out, increasing the length by 25mm. The tracks have also been widened by 16mm. These changes help improve aero by 10 percent and rear downforce by 38 percent. The Urus was always a sharp-looking SUV, and the changes for the Performante make it edgier still.
On the inside, it’s very familiar, but you get lots of Alcantara as standard here. Even the roof lining is Alcantara. The trademark hexagonal Performante stitching is on the seats and roof in the colour of the exterior paint, and customers can also opt for a dark package, which lets you switch out the chrome bits for a more stylish matte metallic black along with red door handles. There’s also a new graphic for the infotainment to let you know this is a Performante.
The Urus Performante gets an optional matte black interior with red door handles.
The Urus has had a lot of success in India because you get a sportscar with a practical side and that has not changed, the back seat is spacious enough for taller people, and you can fit three in if needed. The boot is also well-sized, at 616 litres.
Lamborghini Urus Performante: engine, gearbox and performance
Usually, when you drive an SUV that’s over 5 metres long and weighs around 2 tonnes, the last thing you imagine doing with it is hustling around a racetrack or putting it sideways on dirt, but that’s what you can do in an Urus Performante without breaking a sweat. It is incredible how this SUV darts from corner to corner, offering the driver supreme confidence from behind the wheel.
The Urus Performante takes corners with ease, thanks to the active anti-roll bars and Pirelli tyres.
The new steel springs have made it firmer, and you feel more connected to the road. The rear-axle steering ensures it feels ever so agile, and the active anti-roll bars (standard fit on the Performante) work like a gimbal does for a camera, keeping the car well balanced. Throttle response is sharper, gear shifts are quicker, and the P Zero tyres grip the road like tape, never making a sound. Everything about the Performante feels heightened, and the louder, more aggressive and raspier exhaust note brings it home.
The traction control system kept the Urus Performante in check around corners.
Driving on the tight Vallelunga circuit, the Performante felt like nourishment for my soul and the naughty side was absolute bliss; carry too much speed into a corner, and the tail will step out. But while it was tempting to keep pushing, the instructor beside me ensured I stayed in check and traction control remained on. The electronics cut in immediately to keep me on the straight and narrow on the slightly wet circuit.
New Rally mode allows for easier oversteer on dirt tracks.
However, on the dirt track, it was a different story. In addition to Strada, Corsa and Sport, the Performante adds another drive mode – Rally – which eases off the traction control, allowing a little more oversteer and a lot more fun, which naturally, I did try out. The new Torsen centre differential delivers more torque to the rear wheels, improving low-grip performance, and the rear differential again splits power to whichever wheel needs it more. The result is a grin-inducing, adrenaline-raising ride.
Despite its size and weight, the Urus Performante can drift around a dirt track with ease.
Accelerating around corners, it oversteers with the tail swinging out, and with countersteer, I found it is easy enough to hold the drift; you can slide around a dirt track with the confidence of Sebastian Loeb. What is unbelievable is the size and shape of the vehicle you are doing it in. Inside the cabin, you don’t get thrown to the sides because of the snug seats and unbelievable balance. The engineers at Lamborghini have mastered the art of defying physics.
Lamborghini Urus Performante: verdict
A big draw will be the fact that the Urus Performante will be the last pure internal combustion Lamborghini, with all others following it arriving with some form of electrification. But, besides this distinction, the Urus is a sportscar and an SUV all rolled into one hot-looking package, and unbelievably, the Performante raises the driving pleasure bar further still.
The Urus Performante combines supercar performance with rallying dynamics.
Here in India, you’ll have to pay attention to the road though, as the lower ground clearance and low-profile tyres will be more of a challenge than the regular Urus; although, with 160mm clearance under the belly, one should still be able to clear all speed breakers easily enough. The steel springs will make the ride firmer over broken roads. But if you want supercar-like dynamics and something to chuck around on dirt too, the Urus Performance should be your ride.
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