With the official unveiling of the Lamborghini Urus concept today in Beijing, we can finally fill in a few details of the raging bull Lamborghini wants to loose on the world in 2015, such as its 600-hp power target and 3,000-copies-a-year sales goal at a price close to $200,000 each. And after living with that info for a few weeks, and the early reaction around the world, Lamborghini has a chance to build the first great new vehicle of this decade. Here's five reasons why:
-- It will get at least 600 hp from an engine Lamborghini won't specify. The firm's V-10 would seem the prime choice for a new SUV, and yet by 2015 regulations in Europe and elsewhere will make engines of that many cylinders difficult to sell through fuel economy rules. Buyers around the world have shown a willingness to accept smaller displacement engines with turbocharging, and the buyers of the Urus will be new to Lamborghini anyway. Why not sell them a turbo V8?
-- At 3,000 units a year, the Urus will be the best-selling Lamborghini ever. Lamborghini represents the place where passion overwhelms business sense. The company lost money for decades, and isn't greatly profitable today, but it's heritage and image as the pinnacle of sports cars keeps luring fresh capital. Should the Urus succeed like Lamborghini executives think it will, questions of capital won't be a problem any longer -- even if questions of whether that heritage has been sold out get louder.
-- Lamborghini vows to minimize the family ties. The Volkswagen empire will soon build both Audi SUVs and the Porsche Cayenne from similar parts. Lamborghini had set itself apart from the cheaper corporate relatives through massive use of carbon fiber, but the Urus is too big and high volume to make much use of exotic material. Lamborghini vows the Urus would be the lightest and best-handling vehicle in the segment, but the biggest hurdle facing Lamborghini will be how it makes the Urus different from Audi and Porsche if its forced to use the same basic ingredients.
-- In person, it successfully looks like a Lamborghini. A couple of weeks ago, I was able to make a first-hand comparison between the Urus concept and the Bentley EXP 9F, another stab by Volkswagen at building an SUV for the world's billionaires. The more you examine the Urus, from the stealth-figher intakes to the geometric wheel openings to the taillights lifted from the Estoque, the more it makes sense. Lamborghini has always been the car that's more than most of its drivers can handle; extending that into a tall hatchback shape doesn't dilute that essence. That same exercise stumbled with the Bentley, because the exterior styling reached too far, and because it's harder to escalate luxuriousness than performance. Bentley drivers herald success, not striving.
-- Half may come to the United States. While the Urus was unveiled in China, its largest market may be the United States. If it arrives on schedule in 2015, the Urus will become the go-to ride for any celebrity who basks in the spotlight. Hey, who wouldn't want a 600-hp, all-wheel-drive Batmobile that can also haul a few kids to private school?