Usually when an automaker wants to combat emissions and boost economy, it can do any one one of three things: It can install a smaller engine in its cars, one with fewer cylinders than the ones it already offers – like Porsche with the next Boxster/Cayman. Or it could abandon natural-aspiration and move to turbocharging, which allows for greater power from a smaller mill. Or finally, it could invest in a hybrid powertrain, bumping up fuel economy, and also adding power by augmenting the gas-powered engine.
But today we’re talking about Lamborghini, so we know that hybrid powertrains are off the table. They’re so far off the table, in fact, that company CEO Stephen Winklemann (who’s stepping down to head Audi in 2016) axed the breathtaking Asterion hybrid concept earlier this year largely on the grounds that it was a hybrid. So instead of picking between the other two options, Lambo is saying “why not?” and taking both. The engine in question won’t be dropped into an impossibly fast, wedge-shaped supercar, either. Instead, it’ll be going into the Urus, Lamborghini’s first SUV in nearly 25 years.
And since this is Lamborghini, the Urus isn’t just another luxury SUV, it’s what the company calls “The SUV Super Athlete,” and it won’t just be the company’s meal ticket by 2020, it’ll also be the fastest people mover in the world. Winklemann and R&D chief Maurizio Reggiani have confirmed to Autocar that the company is eschewing its current crop of V10 and V12 engines for a twin-turbo 4.0 liter V8 – also known as the smallest engine in Lambo history.
Winklemann has called the V8 “a major step for the company,” as the twin-turbo mill will both keep CO2 emissions down and Urus with useable power both on-and-off-road. According to Reggiani:
“In acceleration and in off-road capability it is really important to have a high level of torque, in order to move as quickly as possible and in an off-road situation to have the ability to come out of a critical situation easily. We decided that a turbo for a super sport SUV is the best choice. The engine must be light and powerful and with the capability with this torque at low revs to allow the car to be ‘elastic’ in every type of condition.”
He also added that the SUV has already been put through its paces on the track, and will be run through the gauntlet off-road early next year.
But don’t expect this “tiny” V8 to make its way into any other Lambos anytime soon. The company is adamant that the engine will stay in the Urus, and only in the Urus. Reggiani says “This engine is not used by anybody else, only for Lamborghini,” but as Autoblog points out, parent company Volkswagen AG already has a 4.0 liter twin-turbo V8 used in the Bentley Continental GT, and several Audi performance models. Considering that Lambo’s bigger mills in limited circulation among the Volkswagen brands, we wouldn’t be surprised if this new engine sees some carryover from the current mill.
With the ultra-luxury SUV fast becoming one of the more profitable segments in the industry, Lamborghini expects the Urus to introduce the company to a whole new type of customer. It’s invested in a new factory near its Sant’Agata Bolognese headquarters, and expects to sell over 3,000 of them a year. At an expected $400,000 base price, don’t expect the Urus to cheapen the brand, either. Winklemann says:
“It will be a true Lamborghini because it will be the fastest among the SUVs… It has to keep the balance between matching the DNA of the brand, that is being a car that is really driveable and also have a lot of off-road capability, but the driving on the roads is much more important.”
However improbably, it seems like Lamborghini has taken the steps to ensure that its four-door, front-engined, V8-powered Urus truly lives up to the Lamborghini name. It may not be as outrageous as a Huracán, but compared to a row of black Range Rovers, it’ll definitely make a statement.
Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.
Follow Derek on Twitter @CS_DerekS
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