Lamborghini Urus Performante (2022): more power, more control

  • New Super Urus tested on the racetrack and off-road
  • 657 hp, 627 lb ft, 3.3 seconds 0-62 mph, £209,000
  • Steel suspension and “rally mode”

With 641 hp and a top speed of 300 km/h, the Lamborghini Urus is already at the top end of the super SUV scale. However, there’s always headroom and demand for something faster: meet the Lamborghini Urus Performante.

What distinguishes the Lamborghini Urus Performante from the normal Urus?

Numerous powertrain, suspension and aero (and price) upgrades. There are also recalibrated driving modes (plus a new Rally mode) as well as interior and exterior design changes. It is also slightly lighter than the normal car.

Incidentally, the performer should not be confused with the also new Lamborghini Urus S; this is the recently revealed evolution of the standard Urus, which will soon go into production and become the new base model Urus (although it will share the same 657hp engine as the Performante). You can read more about this car here.

Here’s a rundown of the Performante’s major upgrades:

The Lamborghini Urus Performante costs around £209,000 on the road in the UK, versus £188,000 for the Urus S (and £165,000 for the original standard Urus).

Compared to the original Urus, the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 was mapped to 657 hp (or Ol’ Nick’s business card-worthy 666 hp) versus the original Urus’ 641 hp. Torque remains at a hefty 627 lb ft. The power increase comes from software tweaks rather than mechanical changes, although there’s also a small benefit from the new titanium exhaust system.

suspension and steering
The biggest change is the introduction of steel springs instead of the air suspension of the normal Urus. The Performante still has adaptive dampers that have been recalibrated in conjunction with the new springs. It sits 20mm lower than the regular car on 16mm wider tracks.

The rear wheel steering has also been reprogrammed for more agile steering.

driving modes
The familiar Strada, Sport and Corsa modes have been recalibrated to match the changed suspension, and there’s also a new Performante-specific mode: the rousingly named Rally mode.

This allows more wheelspin from the traction control and angles from the stability control systems, and softens the dampers to make the most of weight transfer and allow the car to glide on loose surfaces in a controlled manner.

It’s not “drift mode” with rear-wheel drive oversteer like some other cars. The Urus Performante still features a permanent all-wheel drive system with a Torsen center differential and torque split on the rear differential (with additional planetary gears with clutches on either side of the differential to influence the direction of the torque) plus a small amount of vectoring through top braking.

It’s a festival of Alcantara, with most surfaces lined with the tactile, anti-glare, suede-like material. There’s more use of black trim than on the regular Urus, with various interior trim pieces finished in matte black and black anodized. Carbon fiber is also used extensively for the interior trim parts.

Lots of carbon fiber on the outside too. The hood, arches, spoilers and optional roof are all made of carbon fiber. Cumulatively, they contribute to a weight saving of more than seven kilograms.

Engine and brake cooling were improved over the regular Urus, and aerodynamics were also a focus. A revised air curtain embedded in the front bumper provides clean airflow around the front wheels and is designed to make the already steely Urus look even better. Longitudinal vents cut into the hood help evacuate hot air and a tailgate spoiler significantly reduces lift at the rear, offset by spoiler panels at the front. Overall, the high-performance car has around 8 percent less lift than a normal car at top speed.

The Performante is available with soft, track-focused Pirelli Trofeo R tires with a compound specially developed for the car that performs well in both low and high temperatures. It’s a bit incongruous to see the two-tonne SUVs with semi-slick tires lined up in the pit lane. The regular P Zeroes are also available, with your choice of 22- or 23-inch wheels. The Trofeo Rs are only available on the 22-inch rims.

The Performante weighs 47kg less than the standard Urus, thanks in part to the aforementioned carbon body panels and interior trim, as well as lighter wheels and a titanium exhaust system.

It’s a third of a second faster to 100 km/h, in a supercar-worthy 3.3 seconds.

How does it feel to drive?

Unfortunately we can’t tell you what it’s like to drive on the road. All the rides in the Performante took place at the Vallelunga circuit near Rome (and a gravel track in the same place, more on that later).

Driving a street car on a race track – any street car – is usually an underwhelming experience: all soggy brakes and wallowing suspension. A car that feels dance-like nimble on the road often feels like it has two left feet on a race track. And many SUVs feel that way on the road anyway, let alone on a racetrack. But on the twisty Vallelunga circuit, the Performante’s handling is really impressive. Nimble indeed.

Take the tricky bobby pins towards the end of the round. Normally, in a four-wheel-drive car, including the regular Urus, they would require patience when accelerating. Hit the power too early and you’d expect an armful of understeer. The Performant picks up its inside rear wheel like a hot hatch on its way into the corner, then unerringly follows its front wheels when you throttle back, going exactly where you want to go. Test rider Giacomo explains that he and his colleagues have worked hard on tuning the rear steering and differentials to make this possible.

It’s also very fast in a straight line. When testing street cars on a wide racetrack with no furniture, they often feel slower than they really are, but the Performant feels incredibly fast. Torque is great, but more importantly, it’s spread over a wide rev range from 2300 to 4500 rpm, so it’s very flexible. When you’re busting out of slow hairpins or hurtling down Vallelunga’s long straights, you never feel like he’s running out of steam. Unless you snag the rev limiter in manual mode, where manual really means manual.

Not only can the performer change direction well and maintain its line under acceleration in the slow corners, but it also exhibits decent high-speed stability through those discouraging fifth-gear sweepers that open the lap.

Of course, the semi-slick Trofeo R tires owe a good deal to the impressive dynamics of the Performante.

Braking is the Achilles’ heel in view of the 2150kg curb weight. We manage things by braking earlier than the limit, and to the Urus’ credit, the brakes don’t fade mid-run. Senior engineers assure its performance is repeatable; The cars at the start ran all day and although the instructors closely monitored their condition and temperatures, they seemed to be coping.

Can you go off-road?

It’s not a Land Rover, and of course it’s not meant to be, but the rally-stage-like gravel track built across the hill beside the circuit has some tough ruts and potholes that the Performant coped with admirably on a regular P Zero will tire.

The drive mode switch is set to the new Rally mode and feels good – enough slip allows the wheels to spin to maintain momentum and the rear end to hang out of first and second gear corners, while an electronic safety net to lean on remains .

It’s a lot of fun, and while some of the more vicious bumps thump through the steel springs, the overall composure of the car is impressive.

How does it compare to competitors?

Lamborghini doesn’t specifically refer to competitors, but says the Urus Performate has the best power-to-weight ratio in its class and the most carbon-fiber body panels in its class, so it clearly has a competition checklist.

Its Bentley Bentayga stablemate, with a shared platform and engine, is more luxurious and less sporty, even if it handles superbly (instructionally less sporty, since the Lamborghini broke the Bentayga’s production SUV record at the Pikes Peak hillclimb).

The Urus is more memorably styled than its other platform pals, Audi’s RS Q8 and BMW’s X6 M. Jaguar’s F-Pace SVR is smaller and less powerful, but a lot of fun and a former CAR Giant test winner.

Its closest rival on paper is certainly the Aston Martin DBX 707, one of the most compelling super SUVs we’ve driven on the road. Although the Aston tops the Performante at 697bhp, it costs a little less – if around £19,000 matters to buyers in this market. It’s difficult to compare without driving the two cars on the road, but the Urus might even have licked the impressive DBX for on-road handling.

Lamborghini Urus Performante: verdict

It doesn’t feel right to come to a final judgment on this car without driving it on the road, but on the track the performer is thoroughly impressive and handles far better than you would expect from a car of this height and would expect this weight.

On the road it will be just as practical as the Urus S and the only question mark is the ride quality and refinement of the steel springs. Due to the slick tarmac of Vallelunga it’s not possible to judge, but the way the performer fares on the rally stage bodes well.

The titanium exhaust makes it sound a little more rumbling on the outside than the regular Urus – the Performantes storming through Vallelunga sound like a stock car race in progress – but on the inside it’s more muffled and shouldn’t pose a problem in long-distance driving.

While it’s not a car to everyone’s liking, there’s certainly an appeal here. Lamborghini expects customer demand to be split 50:50 between the Performante and the new Urus S. Demand could easily outstrip supply, however: the logistics of making the Performante, with its extra carbon fiber parts and whatnot, means the production volume is split roughly 40:60 in favor of the Urus S.

If you want the super-super SUV, the Performante is for you. While few are racetracked, it more than performs – a bit like a dive watch that’s never taken to deep underwater depths, it’s appealing to know it can. If you want the fanciest SUV, you might as well have the fastest, fanciest version, and the Performante does the job perfectly.

About Veronica Richards

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