2023 Lamborghini Urus Performante

2023 Lamborghini Urus Performante

The Raging Bull has unleashed its fiercest super SUV yet by adding thePerformante name to the Urus for a lighter and more visceral experience.

Raging Bull’s all-terrain titan

The Urus has been a runaway success for Lamborghini, so much so that over 60% of the Bolognese marque’s sales now derive from the rapid SUV. With aggressive, sharp-edged looks and terrific straight-line pace and cornering agility, there’s little to fault in the Urus’ performance recipe. Even so, there’s always scope to up the ante, just as there are always ready buyers for go-faster specials. Cue the brawny Urus Performante, which iterates on the standard vehicle’s dynamic envelope by shedding 47 kg and gaining in grunt via subtle tweaks to its 4,0-litre twin-turbo V8. The chassis and aero package have also been upgraded to produce a vehicle that’s quicker around a racetrack, without sacrificing day-to-day drivability.

2023 Lamborghini Urus Performante

The Urus Performante is expected to go on sale in SA in the first half of next year, priced about 15–17% higher than the standard Urus. That’s a whole lot of loot, but the added spend doesn’t merely net you a badge-engineered special, as the Urus Performante is the beneficiary of a raft of upgrades that leaves barely any facet untouched.

The engine tweaks are the least significant element of the Performante’s upgrades, as an Akrapovic exhaust system and remapped ECU boosts power from the standard vehicle’s 478 kW to 490 kW, while the peak torque figure of 850 N.m remains unchanged.

Lamborghini claims the Urus Performante makes greater use of carbon-fibre composite body parts than any other SUV: the bonnet, front and rear bumpers, splitter, wheelarch extensions and rear diffuser are all fabricated from the lightweight material.

A carbon-fibre roof is optional, and you can order the bonnet in body colour or partially visible carbon fibre as an option. These space-age components are the main contributors to a 47 kg weight reduction, although the Performante is still no yweight at 2 150 kg. Even so, it comes in about 70 kg lighter than Porsche’s Cayenne Turbo GT.

The Urus Performante’s aero package includes new black front air intakes and a new air curtain draws air ow across the front wheels to reduce drag. Those vents in the bonnet aren’t just for show either; they extract heat from the engine and contribute to aero efficiency.

Out back sits a newly designed spoiler with carbon-fibre fins that increases rear downforce by 38%. A lightweight titanium sports exhaust comes standard, endowing the Performante with an even fruitier soundtrack than the regular Urus.

Interestingly, the Performante ditches the standard Urus’ air suspension in favour of steel springs that lower the chassis by 20 mm and increase stiffness by 90% at the front and 51% at the rear. As an added benefit, the steel-sprung setup is also 20% lighter. The wheel tracks have been pushed out by 16 mm, while the pumped-up guards are filled by either 22-inch forged allo sporting titanium bolts or optional 23-inchers. Unique to the Performante are specially developed Pirelli Trofeo R tyres. Our agenda at the Urus Performante prototype pre-drive began with a couple of laps of the Nardo Handling Track in a regular Urus to get a frame of reference and then jump into the Performante immediately after.

The contrast proved quite enlightening. Athough there isn’t night-and-day difference between the two, immediately evident is the Performante’s sharper turnin and higher grip levels, thanks largely to the bespoke Pirelli Trofeo R tyres that are offered as an option on the 22-inch rims (P Zero Corsa rubber is standard). These alone are claimed to trim around 1,5 seconds a lap around the Nardo track.

You can tick the box to get the optional 23-inch rims, but know that Lamborghini’s chief technical officer, Rouven Mohr, says the best dynamic performance comes from the 22-inchers, as their higher sidewalls play their part in the optimum setup.

On paper, a power hike from 478 kW up to 490 kW is hardly anything to get overly excited about; it’s more the Performante’s sharpness of throttle response and hard-edged sonic signature that get your attention.

That 47 kg weight reduction means the Performante has a best-in-class power-to-weight ratio of 3,2 kg/hp, and this yields a zero to 0-62 *100 km/h sprint of 3,3 seconds (3,6 seconds for a standard Urus) and top whack of 306 km/h, up from 305 km/h in the standard model. These numbers put the Performante more or less on par with the Aston Martin DBX707 in terms of straight-line grunt.

The ZF-sourced eight-speed ZF8HP auto hardware is unchanged from the regular Urus, but shift timing has been sharpened to the extent that you don’t lament the absence of a dual-clutch ’box. The ratio of the Torsen centre differential is also shortened – 3,16 to 3,4 – which adds to the Performante’s sprightliness.

Peak torque of 850 N.m is on tap from 2 300 to 4 500 r/min, so unlike Lamborghini’s naturally aspirated supercars, which shine in the upper reaches of their rev range. Here you can casually surf the vast torque band to make rapid progress.

Having dialled ourselves into the Performante after a few laps, it became clear the 1,6-m-tall SUV can be tipped into corners at speeds barely credible for such a lofty chariot. Active roll stabilisation keeps the weighty SUV remarkably flat through corners and the sharpened four-wheel steering and a torque-vectoring rear differential make easy work of rotating the vehicle through the tighter sections of the circuit.

Besides being mind-bogglingly rapid, the Peformante is forgiving and adjustable, so drivers of all levels will be able to tap into a good chunk of its dynamic ability. Reassuringly, the mighty carbon-ceramic brakes also provide strong and consistent retardation over a series of hard laps.

A subsequent thrash around the Strada Bianca gravel track at Nardo brought home just how much fun the Urus is on loose surfaces. A key point to note is that the Performante’s Tamburo drive-mode selector has the usual Strada, Sport, Corsa and Eco modes, but Rally is introduced in place of the standard Urus’ Sabbia, Terra and Neve off-road settings.

With the electronic safety net loosened in Rally mode (it allows for more wheelspin and oversteer), you can fling the Performante about with surprising ease, with no more than a few wrist flicks to correct oversteer slides.

A far more visceral driver’s car than the standard Urus, the Performante is easy to visually distinguish from its sibling, as the lowered stance is accentuated by its prominent front and rear bumpers, which stretch overall length by 25 mm. Further visual differentiation is provided by the bi-colour livery as – in addition to the optional exposed-carbon-fibre bonnet – there are black painted door handles, and the front and rear aero addenda and lower side sills are also black.

The noir theme extends to the cabin, as the cockpit features Nero Cosmus black Alcantara as standard, with a new hexagonal seat-stitching design (it’s dubbed the “Performante trim”). You can opt for leather upholstery, should you wish.

The ultra-high-performance SUV segment is becoming a cutthroat arena, as the likes of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT and Aston Martin DBX 707 are hardly slouches. The Urus Performante might not be massively faster than this pair, but that hardly matters here.

What does matter, however, is that it comes across as a cohesive, usable and hugely entertaining family-friendly rocket ship.

Do you really need it? Probably not, as the regular Urus is quick enough to satisfy most tastes. But for those who simply must have that added zing and visual pizzazz, the Performante is an absolute hoot.

  • 01 Aggressive aero package features new front air intakes and air curtain over the front wheels.
  • 02 Bespoke HMI graphic and Tamburo selector with Rallymode are unique to the Performante.
  • 03 These 23-inch rims are optional, but standard 22-inchers offer optimal ride/handling dynamics.
  • 04 Roof-mounted spoiler increases rear downforce by 38%.
  • 05 Exterior tweaks are subtle, but they cloak a comprehensive revamp beneath the skin
  • 01 Noir-themed cabin is trimmed in Nero Black Alcantara as standard.
  • 02 Seats feature a new hexagonal stitching design dubbed “Performante trim”.
  • 03 Front and rear bumpers, diffuser and wheel-arch extensions are fabricated from carbon fibre.

TECHNICAL DATA 2023 Lamborghini Urus Performante

  • Price: R4,5 million
  • Engine: 4,0-litre twin-turbo V8
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic ZF 8HP
  • Max Power: 490 kW @ 6 000 r/min
  • Max Torque: 850 N.m @ 2250–4 500 r/min
  • 0–100 km/h: 3,3 seconds*
  • 0–200 km/h: 11,5 seconds*
  • Rivals: Aston Martin DBX707, Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT
  • + eye-opening cornering prowess; day-to-driveability of standard Urus
  • a bit too boy-racer for some tastes; Audi RS6 Avant offers same pace and utility
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