Say what you want about the Lamborghini Urus — it’s ugly, it’s overpriced, it’s a glorified Audi Q8, it’s ugly — you can’t deny the staggering level of performance it offers for an SUV. In fact, it’s so good, and so popular with buyers, Lamborghini hasn’t needed to refresh or update anything about its most popular model since the Urus debuted in 2018. Until now.
We know that the next-generation Urus will no longer be powered by pure internal combustion. It’ll get a plug-in hybrid drivetrain which, while it might sound boring on paper, will likely make Sant’Agata’s people-hauler an even gnarlier performance vehicle. To celebrate the end of internal combustion in the Urus, Lamborghini is preparing a new high-performance version of the already fast SUV. The new Urus variant does not have an official name yet; we haven’t seen it without camouflage. But that didn’t stop Lamborghini from bringing a prototype to Pikes Peak to try and smash the SUV hill-climb record set by its fellow VW Group sibling, the Bentley Bentayga.
I was one of a small handful of journalists Lamborghini brought to Colorado to witness the automaker’s attempt to break the SUV record. What made Lamborghini’s attempt different is that the automaker somehow convinced the officials who run the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb to open the course outside of the normal race weekend, something that hasn’t happened before.
Full Disclosure: Lamborghini wanted me to witness its Pikes Peak SUV record attempt so badly, the company flew me to Colorado, put me up in a Marriott for a night, fed me and let me drive around in an Urus and a Huracan STO.
It’s still pitch black outside when my alarm goes off at 3:00 a.m.; 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 ready to walk out of my hotel room, I hear the sound of Lamborghinis cold-starting in the hotel parking lot. After signing a bunch of legal paperwork, I hop into a waiting Urus and wind my way through sleepy Colorado Springs and up to the staging area at Pikes Peak.
Time is against the team as they work to get the super-camouflaged, extra-spicy, still-unnamed Urus ready for its run up America’s Mountain. Final touches are being made to the Urus, and as the sun starts to come up, Lamborghini’s driver (and Pikes Peak veteran) Simone Faggioli hops in the car. Wheels and tires come out of a makeshift tire warmer that Lamborghini’s race team cobbled together from a big-ass crate and a couple of heat guns; thus prepped, they’re slapped onto the SUV. The Lambo comes off the jacks, and Faggioli starts ripping around the staging area parking lot to keep some heat in the tires as the Pikes Peak officials get ready to send him on his way.
The goal is to have Faggioli make two runs each day for three days. Every run has to be completed before the road up the mountain, a public toll route, opens to traffic at 7:30 a.m. The flag drops, and the twin-turbo V8 roars as Faggioli sets off a whole hell of a lot quicker than a huge SUV reasonably should.
Now, the waiting game begins.
See, even during the official hill climb, spectators don’t have full video coverage of the course. The only way to keep track of your driver’s effort is to watch for sector times coming in as the car climbs up the mountain. It’s one of the most anxiety-inducing ways to enjoy motorsport, with particular meaning for me: The last time I was at Pikes Peak was in 2019. I was a guest of Ducati, and that was the year that legendary motorcycle racer Carlin Dunne was killed in a crash near the finish, effectively signaling the end of motorcycle racing at Pikes Peak.
Standing in the pits with Lamborghini engineers and race team staff, we waited for reports of Faggioli’s progress. Things were going well, right up until the Lambo failed to cross a checkpoint towards the top of the mountain. My stomach was in knots as everyone crowded around the radio, hoping for good news. It’s around 10 minutes before we get the report.
Faggioli went off the course after under-braking for a particularly tricky and fast section known as Cog Cut. Thankfully, the crash wasn’t serious, and Faggioli is uninjured. There’s some damage to the vehicle, but Lamborghini’s engineers seem to think they can get it back together in time for the next day’s attempt. I spend the rest of the morning enjoying a leisurely breakfast and a spirited drive in a Lamborghini Huracan STO — likely the last time I’ll get to drive that wild and wonderful car —before heading back to Denver to the airport.
Lamborghini’s crew were able to get the Urus repaired and ready for action by the following morning. Faggioli adjusted his technique, and at the end of the three days, Lamborghini indeed nabbed a new production SUV record with a time of 10 minutes, 32.064 seconds. For those of you playing at home, that smashes Bentley’s record by a whopping 17.838 seconds. For some 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 for its own sake. A time up the mountain isn’t a conventional metric for how fast a vehicle is, the way a Nurburgring lap record can be. Still, it’s super cool that Lamborghini is out there doing things 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 debuts on August 19.