Lamborghini recently unveiled the Urus Performante at Pebble Beach, but you won’t have to wait long to know how it performs in almost-ready guise. We’ve already been behind the wheel of a prototype example of the Super-Ut at the Porsche-owned Nardo test track in Italy earlier this year.
This was a limited diversion in the early-build example, and we pushed it harder than most Urus bosses in the real world. But that was enough to confirm that the Performante feels quite different from the regular Urus, with the new model’s marginally improved performance significantly more than what the numbers suggest.
A slight horsepower increase
We’ll tackle those numbers first because it won’t take much time. The Performante uses the same twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 as the regular Urus, with a slightly increased output to 657 horsepower (which translates to a diabolical 666 PS). This is an increase of 16-hp over the standard version. Peak torque of 627 pound-feet is unchanged, as it represents the upper limit that the eight-speed automatic gearbox can tolerate.
The weight has also dropped slightly, with the Performante reducing the speed of sound to a claimed 104 pounds, the fit of a carbon-fiber hood, and the swap of mild steel springs for the regular version’s air suspension. Thanks for the replacement. But despite that weight-loss regimen, the Urus Performante is still pretty porky, tipping the scales at just over 5200 pounds.
The Performant sits 0.8 inches closer to the road on its new springs, which continue to operate in conjunction with adaptive dampers and a 48-volt active anti-roll system. It gets a new center differential that diverts more torque to the rear axle, and the rear differential is again able to distribute that torque to each rear wheel. Carbon-ceramic brakes and rear-wheel steering are standard like the regular Urus, but all active dynamic systems have been re-calibrated to improve responsiveness. The Performance also gets a new Rally Drive mode that allows for drifting on low-grip surfaces.
Performance on track
The drift came later, as our first experience was on Nardu’s 4.03-mile handling circuit, the same technically challenging high-speed track where we were first introduced to the pre-production Huracan Technica. While it was certainly a less likely environment for a large SUV than a burnt-out supercar, the Performante felt impressively agile given its weight and size – and more clearly than the standard Urus. .
The regular Urus has never lacked mechanical charisma—a powerplant more theatrical than many theater companies—but the Performant has really managed to change the experience somewhat. The accelerator response feels even more curious in the more aggressive dynamic mode, and the V-8 feels louder and faster than 4000 rpm with a fusilade of pops and rumbles whenever you depress the gas pedal. Gearbox drive is quicker to downshift and stays on gear longer. And though it lacks the brutal speed of a dual-clutch transmission, when you call it with the steering-wheel pedals, it turns more quickly than the regular Urus.
The chassis enhancements are equally notable. Lamborghini’s chief technical officer, Rouwen Mohr, says the decision to switch to steel springs was made primarily to improve responsiveness, although Lamborghini also saved 30 pounds over the regular car’s air springs.
Driving the two models one after the other, the Performant’s steering felt crisper and more precise, and the responses are actually crisper and more firm. In tight corners, the Performante has quicker turn-in—helped by a recalibrated rear-steering system, plus bonkers Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires—and understeer was reduced.
When loaded into a turn, the prototype was more inclined to change both its cornering line and attitude in response to throttle input, and the increased rear torque bias was evident under power. Overall, there was far less slack than the regular Urus, and the Performante was impressively agile for a vehicle of its size and shape. At higher speeds, the revised bodywork results in less aerodynamic lift (Lamborghini cites a 38 percent reduction), although the changes are not enough to create positive downforce.
The Nardo’s handling is a great way to test the Track Performer’s high-speed performance, but it didn’t provide much opportunity to see how the new suspension has changed the dynamic behavior from normal speed. Although firm by segment standards, the air-sprung car drives at highway speed in its gentle mode Corsa. The Performante seems sure to feel sturdy in the real world, especially when seated on the larger 23-inch wheels (22-inch wheels will be standard.). a muscular hump.