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2023 Lamborghini Urus Performante: The Beautiful Absurdity of an SUV That Can Hit 190 MPH

Sure, taking an SUV to the track seems silly…perhaps to the point of absurdity for most folks, but absurdity is the whole point of a Lamborghini. Beautiful, flying wedges capable of speeds mere mortals shouldn’t travel define the brand and their entire supercar lineup. It’s why we love them. And why we really love the 2023 Lamborghini Urus Performante.

To be certain, most owners of the brand’s new Urus Performante will never venture beyond public roads. A shame…così è la vita!

But buyers who do are in for a helluva track day, and the new ‘rally’ mode will have them searching out every dirt road in a 20-mile radius for some slip-slidey fun.

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What’s New

Lambo says, even on the same tires, the new Performante is three seconds faster around Porsche’s Nardò test track than the regular Urus, and on its new specialized Pirelli Trofeo R tires, it’s quicker than the original Hurucan LP610-4—a hard fact to fathom given Performante is roughly 1800 pounds heavier.

Even more mind blowing is that the speed isn’t derived through raw power. The engine is the same four-liter, twin-turbo V-8 used in the previous Urus. Though it’s been tuned up slightly to increase the output a mere 16 more horsepower for a total of 657 and 627 lb-ft of torque. But thanks to those few extra horseys and some near-magical engineering, Lamborghini has managed to shave off three tenths of a second off the 0-60mph time, now advertised at 3.3 seconds.

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Similarly, Lamborghini reduced the weight 100 pounds—most of that from eliminating the air suspension in favor of steel springs, which sharpens the handling and overall feel as does the 0.8-inch lower ride height and 0.6-inch width increase.

Sant’Agata says the Urus Performante has the most carbon fiber parts of any other vehicle in its segment, including the modestly sized rear spoiler, which adds 38 percent more downforce.

Along with the previously mentioned “Rally” mode, the 2023 Lamborghini Urus Performante gets the typical triptych of driving modes. “Strada” softens the suspension and dulls the engine sound, for cruising around town or long highway journeys. “Sport” mode sharpens the inputs, adds a bit of oversteer, and enhances the experience when the roads get twisty. And “Corsa” engages active anti-roll bars and maximum damping to keep cornering flat when you’re pushing for purple in every sector on the circuit.

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Around the Track

Whipping the Urus Performante around the two-and-a-half-mile Vallelunga Circuit, just north of Rome, you almost forget your piloting a 5,200-lb behemoth. Slam the throttle and you’re in triple digits in a couple blinks. As you shuffle in and out of corners, steering is noticeably sharper than its predecessor, though without quite as much feel as the brand’s two-door offerings. Grip levels border on make believe thanks to the new Torsen center differential throwing extra power to the active ones at the rear and those bespoke Pirellis. Pick nearly any line and the Performante will hold it.

The upgraded eight-speed automatic transmission flicks off quicker shifts and the lightweight titanium Akrapovič sports exhaust growls a little louder, but not quite at the deafening level of the Huracan STO.

Dinner plate-sized carbon ceramic brakes (17.3-inch front, 14.6-inch rear) offer otherworldly grab and seemingly refuse to fade.

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Ridin’ Dirty

As fun as the Urus Performante is on the circuit, this Lambo was also built to play in the dirt. After a tire swap (you don’t want slicks off-road) and a few quick laps around a nearby dirt track, it’s quite plain that the addition of those steel springs and “Rally” mode aren’t just a gimmick. The computer dials back the ESP and torque-biasing while cranking up the oversteer so you’re free to rip in the mud or gravel, power-sliding and drifting to your heart’s content.

When you do choose the roads less traveled, be aware that the lower ride height will bring rocks into play (we hit a pretty good one (sorry, Lamborghini!) But find a good, long dirt road and you don’t need a track to free your inner toddler.

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On the Inside

Speaking of children, you can get a pair of car seats in the back and the cargo space is generous. So, parents can give the kids a decent thrill on the ride to school (within the legal limits).

The seats and dash are smothered with Alcantara (suede) surfaces and carbon fiber flourishes while the infotainment system features a slightly reworked version of Audi’s MMI multimedia software, so its fairly easy to use and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

While we didn’t get a chance to tackle any public roads in the Performante, we expect the ride to be obviously firmer than the standard Urus but still plenty comfortable for daily driving.

The Urus Performante’s price tag starts well over a quarter of a million bucks, which most folks will consider crazy. But for buyers, that’s again part of the point. After all, it’s a four-door SUV that can do 190 mph. What kind of practical sense does that make? Not a ton, but it is marvelously absurd and that’s why we love it.

[$264,671; lamborghini.com]

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