Lamborghini SUV confirmedWed, 01 Feb 2012 00:00:00 -0800
A senior source at Lamborghini's parent company Audi in Ingolstadt, Germany, has confirmed reports suggesting that the Italian supercar maker is close to revealing a dramatically styled and luxuriously equipped SUV/crossover concept that previews its long-touted third model.
"I can't comment in detail but the speculation in the press is largely correct," an Audi manager revealed when questioned about reports outlining plans by Lamborghini to gauge public response to a successor to the famed LM002 with a new SUV concept.
Set to get its first public airing at the Beijing motor show in late April, the new SUV/crossover will extend the current Lamborghini lineup, joining the successor to today's Gallardo and the recently introduced Aventador in what will at least be a three-strong model lineup from Sant'Agata from 2016 onward. Lamborghini has not confirmed the reports.
An unprecedented fourth model--a low-slung four-door sedan previewed by the well-received Estoque concept first wheeled out at the 2008 Paris motor show--is also under consideration and, in the words of Autoweek's Ingolstadt sources, "shouldn't be ruled out as a further addition to the lineup should studies reveal there is a market for such a car."
Conceived as an upmarket rival for the likes of the Maserati Kubang, the BMW X6 and a similar four-door coupelike off-roader recently confirmed by Mercedes-Benz and likely to be called the MLC, the new Lamborghini SUV was conceived to sell in numbers of less than 1,500 annually, suggesting its price will be upwards of $200,000 in North America. Key markets for the new performance-orientated four-wheel drive are expected to be the United States and China.
Nothing is official at this early stage, but suggestions are that the 197-inch-long four-seater will go on sale with a detuned version of the Gallardo's 5.2-liter V10 engine developing in the region of 580 hp. Also envisaged is a hybrid version of the big four-wheel drive. It is said to combine the standard V10 with a 107-hp (80-kilowatt) electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack, providing a system output of somewhere near 660 hp.
Rumors suggesting that the successor to the LM002 could also be offered with a specially tuned version of Audi's new twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 and/or a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 common-rail diesel have been indirectly denied by Lamborghini chairman Stefan Winkelmann, who says Lamborghini will not adopt turbocharged engines of any kind this decade.
Known under the internal code name LB736, the new Lamborghini SUV/crossover is planned to share its underpinnings with the next-generation Audi Q7, which is also set to provide the basis for a new Bentley off-roader. The so-called MLB architecture will, in short-wheelbase form, also sit beneath successors to today's Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg.
Already undergoing intensive development at Audi, the future MLB structure is planned to undergo a dramatic weight-reduction program, with Ingolstadt officials suggesting savings of up to 880 pounds for the Q7 through the use of added aluminum and carbon fiber. The high-tech construction will be picked up by Lamborghini to ensure that its new SUV/crossover comes in at less than 4,400 pounds.
As with the current Q7, Cayenne and Touareg, the Lamborghini SUV is expected to be partly produced at the Volkswagen Group's factory in Bratislava, Slovakia, with final assembly taking place at Lamborghini's Sant'Agata plant near Modena, Italy.
By Greg Kable