How Lamborghini evolved from the LM 002 to the Urus

Lamborghini built a record-setting 3,457 cars, mostly by hand, in its Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy, factory last year. The Italian supercar maker intends to sell 3,500 of its new Urus SUVs per year. It doesn’t require a doctorate degree in applied mathematics to figure out where we’re going with this.

Lamborghini is doubling its footprint by exiting the small, but often lucrative, niche it has operated in since its inception in 1963. That makes the Urus the single most significant new product in the company’s history. “For us, tomorrow comes today,” company CEO Stefano Domenicali proudly affirmed as he presented the 2019 Urus to about 750 guests from all over the world.

Talking to the men and women involved with the project reveals growing the brand does not come without risk. A misstep with this SUV wouldn’t topple the company—it has survived much worse—but it would certainly leave it leaning Pisa-style. To that end, Lamborghini couldn’t settle for a modern interpretation of the brawny LM 002 it introduced in 1986. It also needed to preserve its supercar DNA and protect its image, so producing a watered-down model with generic styling wasn’t an option, either.

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While the LM 002 had a formative influence on the Urus, a company spokesman told Motor Authority that pointing the designers in a retro direction was never seriously considered. The LM was a mammoth all-terrain vehicle all but unusable on a daily basis like the Hummer H1. “We envisioned this as a daily-drivable Lamborghini from the start,” the spokesman added. Besides, the Urus needs to deliver taut, buttoned-down handling and hustle around a racetrack.

Carefully study the lines, shapes, and accents that define the Urus and you’ll notice it channels styling cues from the brand’s past and current models. The sharp, pointed front end, the Y-shaped inserts in the lights, and the squared-off wheel arches neatly integrate the Urus into Lamborghini’s present design language. The vents chiseled into the fenders echo the LM 002. But, more than anything, the production model draws inspiration from the Urus concept unveiled at the 2012 Beijing auto show.

Scaling up

Scaled-down mock-ups displayed in the Lamborghini museum shed valuable insight into the path the Urus took from concept car to production model. Designers made numerous tweaks to the lights and bumpers on both ends—an early proposal had recessed headlights, giving the front fascia a completely different expression—but the overall proportions were essentially locked in from the beginning. It’s wide and low, much more so in person than in photos, and it rides on a long wheelbase. Maurizio Reggiani, Lamborghini’s head of research and development, promised the four-wheel steering system helps the Urus behave like a model with a much shorter wheelbase.

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