The arms race inevitably leads to the creation of super-powerful weapons systems. This principle also applies to high-performance SUVs such as Lamborghini Urus Performance. Lamborghini started working long before entering the market Aston Martin DBX 707 and announcement about future Ferrari Purosangue, so the Performante isn’t technically the answer to either. But the new Urus is aimed at the same audience: cash-strapped buyers who aren’t satisfied with mere speed and want to jump straight to the fastest.

Although the Performante has only a slight edge over the regular Urus in power and acceleration, Lamborghini says that around a regular race track, the bulky SUV is now faster than the original Huracán LP610-4 it was only eight years ago.

Of course, there are some caveats to this claim. Lambo’s chief technical officer, Reuven Mohr, believes that the Performante’s increased performance is largely due to improvements in tire technology – buyers will be able to choose this supercar with ultra-sticky Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R rubber. More telling: Rohr says that if the Performante and standard Urus use the same tires, the new version is three seconds faster on the demanding 3.9-mile track at Porsche’s Nardò proving ground.

We’ll admit that a track-focused SUV might sound just as ridiculous as an off-road supercar (which Lamborghini also offers, with the announced Hurricane Sterratt). But this, apparently, is the yardstick by which the manufacturers of these super-SUVs judge themselves and their competitors. There is already a prototype of the Performante version set the off-road speed record on the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, with a time of 10 minutes and 32 seconds, shaving 18 seconds off the previous Bentley Bentayga benchmark. So it’s a thing. Having driven the Performante on the Vallelunga circuit near Rome, we can also confirm that it is an absolute monster on the road.

The mechanical improvements over the regular Urus are more about response than outright speed. The twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 makes 657 horsepower here, up 16 horsepower, while peak torque of 627 lb-ft remains unchanged. The engine now exhales through an even sharper sports exhaust, and throttle mapping has been improved in all driving modes.

The Performante also gets a new Torsen center differential, which can direct more torque to the rear axle, where an active rear differential distributes it from side to side. It sits 0.8 inches lower to the ground and does away with air springs in place of steel coils, which lose the ability to change ride height but improve handling. As on the standard Urus, adaptive dampers, active anti-roll and rear-wheel steering are available, but with more aggressive software-defined settings. The eight-speed automatic gearbox has also been tweaked to reduce gearshift times.

I like it its namesake Huracán Performante, the new variant of the Urus has reduced weight. A carbon fiber hood, lighter wheels and a titanium exhaust are part of a package of changes that have reduced weight by a claimed 104 pounds. Provided the last Urus we tested weighed 5,314 pounds, Performante is still not easy. Aerodynamic changes thanks to a revised front end and a new liftgate spoiler reduce aerodynamic lift by up to 38 percent while reducing drag.

The Performante’s tremendous autonomous acceleration remains the most important part of the driving experience. There’s something otherworldly about a car this big that can go so fast, devouring gear ratios in a storm of sound and fury. Even more impressive is the Performante’s ability to deliver its massive thrust in the incredible racetrack setting. The wide carbon-ceramic brakes—17.3-inch discs sandwiched by 10-piston calipers up front—are unchanged from the standard car, but cooling is improved. They drop without complaint even during multiple laps, radiating the heat of an open pizza oven as the car returns to pit lane. And the Trofeo R’s optional tires provide plenty of grip and a level of handling precision that’s surprising for something this size.

The steering feels sharper than the regular Urus, and the Performante is more willing to turn in. It combats understeer thanks to the rear-directed torque transfer, and the rear steering is evident in faster corners. The fundamental laws of physics have been bent, not broken—even in the Strada’s sharpest mode, stepping on the gas too early will make the front end wide. But with the discipline and confidence of its massive thrust, the Performante felt far more nimble than anything of a similar size and shape.


The less aggressive Sport mode, which owners choose most often on the street, provides a more playful character, with more freedom to influence cornering with the throttle. The only notable shortcoming on the track was the gearbox, which, even with full manual control via the paddle shifters, still lacked the thrust and speed of the dual-clutch transmission.

Lamborghini also let us try out the new Rally Performante mode, effectively an off-road drift, on a twisty gravel track. While it was fun, especially in someone else’s quarter-million-dollar SUV, we shuddered at the sound of rocks hitting the carbon wheel arches and door sill protectors. Rally mode requires a significant throttle input to initiate a slide, and the driver must hold the pedal down to allow the active systems to adjust the yaw angle. Letting off the accelerator—a natural first instinct—brings the traction control back into action and forces the car to bog down.

What was missing from our drive was the ability to take the Performante outside. The ride is undeniably stiffer than the standard Urus, whose air springs flex in the softest Strada mode. But Lamborghini is confident that buyers will be happy to sacrifice compliance for a more intense experience. The company expects the Performante to account for more than half of Urus sales.

Will anyone who buys it actually take it to the track or for an impromptu dirt road drift? “Maybe not a lot,” admits Lamborghini CEO Stefan Winkelmann when asked, “but they’ll like the idea that they can.” And indeed, they can.

Technical characteristics

Technical characteristics

2023 Lamborghini Urus Performante
Vehicle type: front engine, four-wheel drive, 5-seater, 4-door station wagon

Base: $264,671

32-valve DOHC twin-turbo intercooled V-8, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 244 inches33996 cm3
Power: 657 horsepower at 6000 rpm
Torque: 627 lb-ft at 2,300 rpm

8-speed automatic

Wheelbase: 118.3 inches
Length: 202.2 inches
Width: 79.8 inches
Height: 63.7 inches
Passenger volume: 105 feet3
Cargo volume: 22 feet3
Curb weight (C/D estimate): 5,250 lbs

60 mph: 2.8 sec
100 mph: 7.0 sec
1/4 mile: 11.1 sec
Top speed: 190 miles per hour

Combined/city/highway: 16/14/19 mpg

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