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Lamborghini Urus SUV at Beijing

SUV surrender flags are flying around the world and Lamborghini is the latest to run one up its flagpole. 

Lamborghini's capitulation comes in the shape of the Urus, a futuristic family-sized SUV it believes will sit comfortably alongside an Aventador or Gallardo supercar in upscale garages around the world. And potentially add another 3000 sales a year to its bottom line.

It's no surprise to see the Urus starring for the Italian company this week at the Beijing motor show, as wealthy Chinese actually see a need for serious rough-road ability on the country's lousy roads and high-priced SUVs are firm favourites.

The Urus comes following Maserati's confirmation of the Kubang and Bentley's announcement in March that it is to join the SUV stoush, although its ugly EXP 9F will need some tweaking before it hits showrooms, leaving Jaguar as the only upscale hold-out as Aston Martin is also working on a vehicle to bring the Lagonda name back from the dead with Mercedes-Benz ML mechanicals.

Lamborghini describes the Urus as "the ultimate super athlete", although it is yet to give engine details or a timetable for production. 

It's most likely to have a tweaked V12 engine because of its heft, although Lamborghini is promising 440 kiloWatts with best-in-class C02 emissions which would mean significant changes from the powerplant in the Aventador.

It's also promising supreme luxury for just four passengers, as well as plenty of its signature carbon fibre to reduce weight below its rivals - the Aventador has a full carbon chassis - and even variable ground clearance to go with its all-wheel drive grip.

Lamborghini should have no problem on that front, as Audi is its parent company and versions of its quattro drive with double clutch gearboxes are used in both the Gallardo and Aventador. 

"The Urus is a very concrete idea for the future of Lamborghini - as a third model line and as the perfect complement to our super sports cars," says Stefan Winkelmann, CEO of Automobili Lamborghini. 

"The Urus is the most extreme interpretation of the SUV idea. It is the Lamborghini of SUVs." But he also knows that Lamborghini needs sales and cash from the Urus, just as Porsche did when it brought the brand-saving Cayenne SUV - which put the company back into profit - to life alongside its sports cars.

"The Urus means that a Lamborghini can now be used by a household as its primary car." The Urus is close to five metres in length but only 166 centimetres tall, well belong its rivals and a reflection of the edgy design work on the body.

The bright red Urus in Beijing rolls on giant 24-inch alloy wheels, has active aerodynamics with an adjustable front spoiler, and a full battery of LED lights at both ends.

Australian buyers probably face a long wait for the Urus, although a local plan is still being developed. "It's probably three years away from us, although we'd like to get it sooner," says Martin Roller of Lamborghini.

"We're pretty excited about the car. The demand for SUVs in Australia is incredibly strong. "It's big news. To have a third Lamborghini model, and especially, an SUV, is a big deal. We've only known about it for a day and we're already got people asking about it."

And the name? Lamborghini traditionally names its sports cars after Spanish fighting bulls, but the Urus goes back further to the roots of the breed. Wild Urus bulls, also known as Aurochs, were the distant ancestors of domestic cattle and could stand up to 1.8 metres tall.


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