Say what you want Lamborghini Urus — it’s ugly, it’s overpriced, it’s glorified Audi Q8it’s ugly – you can’t deny the staggering level of performance it delivers for an SUV. In fact, it’s so good, and so popular with buyersLamborghini hasn’t needed to refresh or update anything on its most popular model since the Urus launched in 2018. Until now.
We know that the next-gen Urus will no longer be powered by pure internal combustion. it’ll be OK a plug-in hybrid transmission which, while boring on paper, will likely make Sant’Agata’s people carrier an even more powerful performance vehicle. To celebrate the end of internal combustion in the Urus, Lamborghini is preparing a new performance version of the already fast SUV. The new variant of Urus does not yet have an official name; we haven’t seen it without camouflage. But that didn’t stop Lamborghini from bringing a prototype to pike woodpecker to try and break the SUV hill climb record set by his VW Group brother, the Bentley Bentayga.
I was one of the few journalists Lamborghini brought to Colorado to witness the automaker’s bid to break the SUV record. What made Lamborghini’s attempt different was that the automaker somehow convinced the officials who run Pikes Peak International Hill Climb to open the course outside of the normal race weekend, something that has never happened before.
Full disclosure: Lamborghini wanted me so badly to attend their SUV record attempt at Pikes Peak, the company flew me to Colorado, put me up in a Marriott for one night, fed me and let me drive in a Urus and a Huracan STO.
It is still dark outside when my alarm clock rings at 3 am; with the time change from Pacific to Mountain, my brain thinks it’s even earlier. I stumble out of bed, get dressed, and as I’m getting ready to exit my hotel room, I hear the sound of Lamborghinis cold starting in the hotel parking lot. After signing a bunch of legal documents, I jump into a waiting Urus and make my way through sleepy Colorado Springs and to the staging area at Pikes Peak.
Time is against the team as they work to prepare the super-camouflaged, extra-spicy, and as yet unnamed Urus for its run to America’s Mountain. The finishing touches are made to the Urus, and as the sun begins to rise, the Lamborghini driver (and Pikes Peak Veteran) Simone Faggioli jumps into the car. The wheels and tires come out of a makeshift tire warmer that Lamborghini’s racing team cobbled together from a bass drum and some heat guns; thus prepared, they are slapped on the SUV. The Lambo rolls off the jacks, and Faggioli begins tearing up the staging area parking lot to keep some heat in the tires as Pikes Peak officials prepare to send it on its way.
The goal is for Faggioli to run two races a day for three days. Each race must be completed before the road to the mountain, a public toll road, opens to traffic at 7:30 a.m. The flag drops and the twin-turbo V8 roars as Faggioli starts up much faster than a huge SUV reasonably should.
Now the waiting game begins.
You see, even during the official hill climb, spectators don’t have full video coverage of the course. The only way to track your driver’s effort is to monitor sector times as the car climbs the mountain. It’s one of the most anxiety-inducing ways to enjoy motorsport, with a special meaning for me: the last time I was at Pikes Peak was in 2019. I was a guest of Ducati, and it was the year that this legendary motorcycle racer Carlin Dunne was killed in an accident near the finisheffectively signaling the end of motorcycle racing at Pikes Peak.
Standing in the pits with Lamborghini engineers and race team staff, we waited for reports on Faggioli’s progress. Things were going well, until the Lambo failed to get through a checkpoint towards the top of the mountain. My stomach was in knots as everyone crowded around the radio, hoping for good news. There are about 10 minutes left before we receive the report.
Faggioli exited the course after underbraking for a particularly tricky and fast section known as the toothed cup. Fortunately, the accident was not serious and Faggioli was not injured. There is some damage to the vehicle, but Lamborghini engineers seem to think they can get it back in place in time for the next day’s attempt. I spend the rest of the morning quietly enjoying breakfast and a lively walk in a Lamborghini Huracan STO – probably the last time I’ll drive this wild, wonderful car – before heading back to Denver to the airport.
The Lamborghini crew was able to repair the Urus and have it ready for action the next morning. Faggioli adjusted his technique, and at the end of the three days Lamborghini did indeed set a new production SUV record with a time of 10 minutes, 32.064 seconds. For those of you playing at home, that shatters Bentley’s record of 17.838 seconds. In a certain context, the overall record was set in 2018 by Romain Dumas in the Volkswagen ID R EV with a time of 7 minutes, 57.148 seconds.
Ultimately, a Pikes Peak record is an achievement in itself. Time spent in the mountains is not a conventional measure of vehicle speed, as a Nurburgring lap record perhaps. Still, it’s super cool that Lamborghini does stuff like this for the love of the game. It makes me extremely excited to see the production version of the high-performance Urus (name TBD), which will debut on the 19th august.