2023 Lamborghini Urus Performante: First Drive Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceWhat Is It?
Lamborghini has earned a deserved, worldwide reputation for building sports cars exuding extreme performance as well as extreme styling. A few years ago, the Italian company added the Urus to its lineup — an SUV deserving to wear the Lamborghini name. The Urus quickly became the automaker’s best-selling model, and now 86 percent of Urus buyers are new to the Lamborghini brand. Now Lamborghini comes to market with its most intense Urus yet — the Urus Performante. At home on a race course, dirt track or on a daily commute, the 2023 Lamborghini Urus Performante is a multitasking supercar disguised as an SUV.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSetting the Bar Higher
“The Urus Performante takes the supreme performance and distinctive looks of Lamborghini’s ground-breaking Super SUV to the next level, retaining its luxurious versatility and delivering the most engaging driving experience,” said Lamborghini Chairman and CEO Stephan Winkelmann. “The Urus set a new standard at its launch, taking Lamborghini’s design DNA and technological talent and delivering the world’s first Super SUV for a new era: the Urus Performante sets the bar even higher for the SUV segment,” Winkelmann noted.

© Automobili LamborghiniPike’s Peak Record Run
Before its debut, the 2023 Lamborghini Urus Performante showcased its performance with an impressive run up legendary Pike’s Peak in Colorado. The updated super SUV set a new record for the production SUV category by completing the International Hill Climb Road in a time of 10:32.065. This beat the previous record of 10:49 set in 2018 by a Bentley Bentayga.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceUrus Lineup
For the 2023 model year, two Urus variants will be available for the first time: the luxury-minded Urus S and the extreme-performance Urus Performante. Both benefit from a more powerful V8 engine, although the Performante is designed to be more aggressive in looks and capability. The Urus S has a starting price of $229,268; the Urus Performante has a base price of $260,676. Demand for the Urus is high. According to Lamborghini, the current wait time for a new Urus is about 18 months.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceUrus S
In addition to the new Performante, the Urus S offers another option for the Urus buyer who may not want or need the extreme handling of the Performante yet is still seeking Lamborghini levels of potency. Power output is the same for both variants, although the Urus S features an adaptive air suspension for a more comfortable ride and an interior that is more luxury-oriented. Outside, the Urus S has less exposed carbon fiber trim and the wheels possess a more elegant design.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePerformante Styling
The Urus Performante stands out with a prominent hood and bumper design as well as extensive use of carbon fiber throughout. According to Lamborghini, this high-performance SUV carries the highest number of carbon fiber components in the segment. This includes the carbon fiber hood and available carbon fiber roof.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceImproved Aerodynamics
Not only is the Urus Performante more powerful than the previous version, it features improved aerodynamics that further increase overall performance. Air flows smoothly over the wheels thanks to a new air curtain. The outlets in the hood improve aerodynamic efficiency while at the same time delivering additional cooling to the more powerful engine. Vents in the rear fenders allow better airflow from the rear wheels.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear Spoiler
The 2023 Lamborghini Urus Performante’s new rear spoiler gets mounted above the rear window. The spoiler not only adds to the aggressive looks of the Performante, it is also fully functional by increasing downforce by an impressive 38 percent.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceProper V8 Sound
Lamborghini has already stated its plans to begin moving to electrified and full-electric vehicles in the coming years, so the days of a throaty roar of an internal-combustion V8 engine are numbered. But that’s not an issue with this Urus, and the Performante enhances that sound with a standard lightweight titanium Akrapovic sport exhaust with quad outlets. The Performante possesses a proper rumble in normal Strada mode, but heads will turn when the driver changes the mode to Corsa and the exhaust takes on a menacing note.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceUnder the Hood
The Urus is already immensely powerful, and the new Performante takes that muscle up a notch with an increase to 657 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque from its 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine. Power gets sent to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. With more power and a weight reduction of more than 100 pounds, performance is noticeably improved. The Urus Performante can sprint to 100 km/h (62 mph) in a mere 3.3 seconds, and 124 mph comes up in 12.8 seconds on its way to a top speed of 190 mph.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceWheels and Tires
The 2023 Lamborghini Urus Performante rides on standard 22-inch forged lightweight wheels with titanium bolts, fitted with Pirelli Trofeo R tires designed specifically for this extreme Urus. According to Lamborghini, these tires improve grip by 5 percent with 10 percent better responsiveness. At the Nardo, Italy, test track, these tires improved lap time by 1.5 seconds vs. P Zero Corsa tires. A 23-inch wheel is also available.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSteel Springs
To further improve handling, the Urus Performante features new, stiffer steel springs that lower the chassis by 20 mm. At the same time, the wheel track is wider by 16 mm. These combine to give the Urus better overall handling as well as a more aggressive stance.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceInner Space
It may have the performance of an extreme sports car, but the interior of the Urus Performante is exceedingly luxurious, with almost every surface covered in soft Alcantara or stylish carbon fiber. Standard seats are also trimmed in Alcantara with a new hexagonal stitching design that matches the exterior color. During our test drive, we were surprised that the front seats were not more heavily bolstered, but they offered enough support to keep us from sliding around during aggressive driving. Contrasting stitching can be found throughout the cabin, including on the doors and the sport steering wheel.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHigh-Tech Appearance
The Urus features a large touchscreen display in the center of the dashboard, as well as a secondary display for climate-control functions. The digital instrument panel can be configured for multiple views that cycle depending on drive mode selected. As is the case with other Lamborghinis, the start button is protected by a red cover, so the action of starting Urus is a bit like launching a missile or lighting up a jet fighter — an apt metaphor for a Lambo SUV.

The main switchgear for operating the Urus Performante is located in the center console surrounding the covered start button. The ANIMA (soul) selector allows the driver to choose a driving mode. A similar switch is used for the EGO selector, which gives the driver more options to customize the ride and stability settings.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear Seat
One big advantage the Urus has over a traditional sports car: the ride can be shared with the whole family. The rear seat offers plenty of legroom and headroom, with the option of four- or five-occupant configuration. The aft seats are comfortable and stylish, with the same stitching design as the fronts. Dual-zone climate control for rear-seat passengers adds to overall comfort, and dual USB-C ports keep devices powered.

Cargo Space
Not only does the Urus haul on the track, it can also haul plenty from a big-box store. The SUV has plenty of cargo space behind the rear seats for multiple pieces of luggage or supplies for home repair projects. Rear seats fold flat for hauling larger items.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOn the Track
Lamborghini invited us to Rome, Italy, to properly experience the capability of the new Urus Performante, and that meant taking it to a racetrack. At Autodromo Vallelunga, we had the opportunity to push this super SUV hard and came away extremely impressed. It may look like a 5-passenger SUV, but the Urus Performante certainly doesn’t drive like one. For the on-track driving, we followed a professional driver who provided some coaching as needed via radio, but certainly didn’t slow us down. Launching onto the track at full throttle, the all-wheel drive and sticky Pirelli tires permitted no wheelslip — just extremely strong acceleration. We easily achieved 140 mph before slowing for the first turn.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSports Car Handling
Strong acceleration is certainly a big pro of the 2023 Lamborghini Urus Performante, although this potent SUV really proves itself through corners. The steering has been recalibrated for more precise inputs with better feedback, and the rear-wheel steering reacts quicker — further improved with torque vectoring from the rear differential. All this adds up to a big, powerful SUV that can handle the track with the agility of a sports car. We pushed the Urus hard through the track’s high-speed corners, and with only a bit of body lean the Urus sticks to a line with precise steering and astounding grip.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceQuick Shifting
On track, manually shifting the Performante’s gears via steering wheel paddles resulted in quick upshifts and downshifts; however, as the day wore on we found leaving the system to shift for itself worked as well — if not better. The biggest surprise came when our remote driving coach would suggest downshifting to second gear for a particular turn, and by the time we were reaching for the paddle, the system had already shifted to second. It clearly knew what it was doing.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceStrong Brakes
The Lamborghini Urus Performante’s large carbon ceramic brakes had no problem reigning in this hefty beast, even from triple-digit speeds. This deceleration caused no drama or concern – just rapid slowing in a straight, confident line. Even after multiple stints and multiple laps, the brakes never faded, working as well on the last lap as they did on the first. This is especially impressive considering the Urus Performante is no lightweight sports car; it weighs in at more than 4,700 pounds, yet according to Lamborghini it can still brake from 62 mph in just 108 feet.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceReady to Rally
Not only is the Urus Performante built to excel on the track, it was also designed for high performance when the pavement ends. Lamborghini also set us loose on a dirt track to properly test out the SUV’s Rally mode. It was admittedly a bit surreal taking the same high-performance track machine out into the dirt, but the Urus felt just as confident on loose surfaces — and just as much fun.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRally Mode
With the Urus in Rally mode, the stability control allows the driver to induce oversteer, letting the rear end loose to have a little fun while still reigning in the vehicle if pushed too hard. At the same time, the anti-roll and damping systems adjust to handle rough surfaces.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceGoing Sideways
We discovered that the 2023 Lamborghini Urus Performante is easy to toss around a dirt course, diving into sweeping 180-degree turns. Turning the wheel and lifting off the throttle induces oversteer without ever feeling out of control. Once the Performante’s nose gets pointed in the right direction, applying throttle sends the powerful SUV off in the correct direction with all four wheels grappling for grip. Even in loose conditions, flying sideways through tight turns the Urus still feels confident and stable, seeming to invite even more speed. To say that this portion of our test drive was fun would be an extreme (that word again) understatement.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRight for You?
For luxury-car buyers who long for a high-performance sports car but whose daily needs are incompatible with such a vehicle, the 2023 Lamborghini Urus Performante is the perfect solution. The Performante will get the attention of a super sports car, and with incredible power and performance it will keep up with or surpass most sports cars on the road. At the same time, it offers a luxurious cabin for up to five people with room for luggage or other gear, and the all-wheel-drive system provides all-weather capability. The price is typically out of reach for most consumers, but for those who have the means, the new Lamborghini Urus Performante is perhaps one of the best multi-use sports cars on the road — it just looks like an SUV.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 9.0
Pros: Track-ready performance; luxurious interior; SUV utility.
Cons: Expensive; stiff ride; hard to obtain.
Bottom Line: The Urus Performante successfully brings supercar performance to an SUV that can be driven every day.

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