Take a ride with the Lamborghini's super SUV Urus through Italy
Flying into Bologna after Paris fashion week, we took the attractive Lamborghini Urus out on a day trip in the province of Modena, a little drive to Villa Cesi in Nonantola and Palazzo Albergati. If you, like me have a dual-personality (sometimes I like to be elegant, other times I like to be sporty), this powerful multi-dimensional Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) will fit snugly into your lifestyle.
Honestly, it doesn't hurt that the sound of the 4.0 liter V8 twin-turbo engine attracts attention everywhere we drive, even at 20-30 km/h while we are waiting at the Italian tolls. With an acceleration from 0-100 km/h in 3.6 seconds, and a top speed of 305 km/h, it is the fastest SUV available. I have to admit, the revving sound effect is loud, but very sexy.
After a day's drive, we reluctantly return the Urus to the Lamborghini headquarters. Next to the office stands the magnificent and infamous Lamborghini museum, an increasingly popular attraction and point of interest for car aficionados and sightseers from all over the world (even the guys from rival company Ferrari visit this museum from time to time; Lamborghini of course welcomes them with open arms). The Lamborghini museum also offers visits to the production lines, our next pit stop for the day.
Being a fan of production visits (albeit in the fashion industry) like Christian Louboutin, Hermès and Louis Vuitton factories, just to name a few; I'm surprised by the astonishingly modern and extremely clean Lamborghini car factory. There are no signs of grease nor is there the pungent smell of paint. Here, the 250 workers in the Urus factory seem content — they greet visitors, smile and share some laughs. There's a sense of pride in the atmosphere.
No surprise there, after all Lamborghini has been awarded Top Employer Italy 2018 with excellent workplace environments and advanced policies for human resource management. Safe to say, workers' welfare is something that they take very seriously. While having lunch at their staff canteen, we also found out that the Italian lunch buffet service is charged to the workers at only one Euro per month. And no, they don't work overtime like us in Asia.
From a Lamborghini order to delivery, it takes an average of six to nine months. The Lamborghini factory is one dynamic environment that allows open communication, such as feedback and suggestions from production workers, engineers, and internal test-drivers to be easily communicated to management, and vice versa.
Innovative and highly efficient, each production line (be it the Urus, Huracán or Aventador) is divided into various stages, with a large screen timer of a 45-minute countdown for each stage (no pressure!) for all workers to view and comply. Automated robots are also deployed to work collaboratively with the production workers, they call them 'co-robots'. Over at the atelier of Ad Personam, a Lamborghini car owner can customise colours (the current archive has over 350 colours) for both the exteriors and interiors, from leather seats to stitching, to personalisation of initials and signatures on the headrests for instance. It isn't uncommon for ladies to send in their favourite nail polish as a colour sample for their Lamborghinis.
From the modern and innovative Lamborghini factory in Sant'Agata Bolognese, we walk back to the office, where we catch up with chief marketing officer and board member, Katia Bassi. The extremely stylish Bassi joined Automobili Lamborghini in September 2017 as the first woman ever to join the company's board. Donning a black-and-white lace shift dress by Malaysian-designer, Self-Portrait, she shares her views on the Urus and FAB (Female Advisory Board), as well as setting a pivotal change in the brand's marketing strategy since her arrival.
You've got a long history working with cars. What initially drew you to the industry and what drives you forward today?
For me, the most important thing in everything that I do is to find the purpose. When I was called into Ferrari for an interview (where I led the Ferrari licensing department for six years, before turning commercial director of FC internazionale SPA), the first thing that I thought was, 'Why are they calling me? I am not an engineer — I am not what they are looking for'. At that time, the idea was to set everything that was outside the business such as brand expansion, retail stores, activities and sponsorships. That to me was an exciting project. That was my first approach to the automotive industry because before that, I was only in the watches and jewellery industry. So the plan was apt at that time, and I accepted. That's how everything started.
That is a considerable feat that you have achieved for yourself. Also being a woman, I'm sure that were a lot of challenges along the way as well.
I have to say that the atmosphere of Ferrari at that time was dynamic — probably at the golden age of the brand. Michael Schumacher used to win every race, and you know, when things are going in the right direction, everything is smooth there. It was a nice period.
Not really. I believe that super sports cars are a different beast. The reality is that the sharing economy is affecting very much the younger generation but not this magnitude of cars because it's more related to the passion; that you want to express yourself through a different medium. In such a way, super sports cars such as Lamborghinis can express one's personality as well. And also, for those who are looking for something unique and bespoke, because we all know that we are in the age of youth right? So everything is much customised. We love Dior bags; we love all these kind of things. Cars, if constructed like the Lamborghini ones with a level of craftsmanship that is second to none — they are a piece of art. It's a kind of investment. Someone prefers to invest in art; someone else might be in real estate and others in cars because our cars are scarce. We produce not more than 8,000 cars and at the highest regime. So this is the difference between the traditional automotive industry and the super sports car.
With a brand as strong as Lamborghini, do the cars sell themselves? People who love the brand will get one anyway.
Let's say that we have a more mature type of customers. For these customers, they understand the value, though they may not know why they are buying something — they are buying a concept, a car and also acquiring the values that are behind the car. So they want to learn more. Maybe they are not experts because they don't have to be experts, but they want to know why they paid for that. And this is the reason why Lamborghini is always up to speed in that sense. Not only with customers but also the aspirational target. To feed them with information — we are very generous on social media and our website for details because we are very inclusive. We are trying to grow up a new generation of people who understand not only the technology, the innovation, the passion behind but also the values that are behind the brand like Lamborghini that is not just a car for ultra-rich people. It's not just that, it's much more.
Do you feel that there is a shift in lifestyle direction in the past and now?
Probably, let's say that it's also the way that you position the brand. In the past, the Lamborghini was all masculine — everything was related to the performance of the car. Now, it's a little bit different — it's more open. We have been lucky to be the first one to use a super SUV. This opened doors to families, to women and others to communicate the new era of Lamborghini that is a happy brand. We love the idea of someone who can bring joy, not only those who are customers — who are lucky enough to own a Lamborghini but those who aspire to have a Lamborghini tomorrow. This is why our social media platforms are so active because we want to keep our considerable number of followers that we have because now as a collective base, we have about 33 million. It's a significant number for us.
It is, indeed. You mentioned about Lamborghini catering to women. With the month of March celebrating International Women's Day, what are your thoughts on women collecting luxury cars?
This is precisely the project that we are running in Lamborghini and the reason why I started this project in December 2017 called FAB (Female Advisory Board). Because we now know that more women can have their assets and can buy things, be it cars, art pieces, property, whatever with their assets without asking their partner or husband. Our recent survey stated that by 2025, 38% of the total automotive retail would be in the hands of women. With a very luxurious super SUV, you can quickly pick up your kids in school; you can enjoy some free time on weekends with your friends, family but as well as with a Lamborghini with true Lamborghini DNA. For us, it's important to know what women want for the next generation of super sports cars. In an automotive business, the brands are looking for something that is very dedicated to women, but more often than not, they end up with rather cheesy ideas, like pink cars or a big trunk for shopping.
That's not the case. At FAB, we collected responses from 200 prominent women all over the world, from Asia to the United States to the Middle East. Because we believe that it's imperative that we start understanding so that we can modify or adapt our super sports car, by sticking to our performance DNA but also making it more attractive for women.
Adding onto the question above: the Urus. Were there any significant obstacles in convincing potential buyers that an SUV could be a 'real' Lamborghini?
Lamborghini has decided to invest in introducing the super SUV Urus, because there is a clear demand in the luxury segment worldwide. It will be the first Lamborghini since years which will greatly expand the Lamborghini driving experience to more than two people. The owner will be able to share both possession and performance of his Lamborghini with relatives and friends in an everyday use. The super SUV Urus has been recognised as a real Lamborghini: while the choice of a turbo engine, the first in a Lamborghini, reflects the enlarged desired usage range of the Urus, especially in off-road conditions a high level of torque at low revs is necessary and can be guaranteed only by such an engine. This provides optimal engine responsiveness and efficiency under all driving conditions and in any kind of terrain. The technology applied is the best present in both Huracán Performante and Aventador S. This is why we called it a super SUV.
With Lamborghini being one of the most exclusive luxury brands in the world, the arrival of a fascinating new and benchmark-setting product will not hurt the value and the power of the brand. Rather on the opposite, especially since it will address a new target group, while coming in such small numbers, you will not see it on the road very often, like any other Lamborghini.
I'm aware you can't comment on future products, but can you see a place in the Lamborghini line-up for a smaller Urus? Like the relationship between the Huracán and Aventador?
Lamborghini has decided to invest in introducing the super SUV Urus, as there is a clear demand in the luxury segment worldwide.
Urus is the first Lamborghini extending the Lamborghini driving experience to more than two people. This excitement and performance can be shared with family and friends in everyday use. SUVs are clearly also the body type that women prefer. Therefore we expect a higher share of female customers attracted not only by the concept but also by a unique design and the thrill of Lamborghini's performance.
The super SUV Urus has definitely been recognised as a real Lamborghini: the technology applied is the state of art present merging the best of Huracán Performante and Aventador S. With a V8 turbo engine, the first in an SUV, the Urus reflects the enlarged desired usage range, especially in off-road conditions where a high level of torque at low rev is necessary, providing optimal responsiveness and efficiency under all driving conditions and in any terrain.
The Lamborghini Museum, which is located inside the company premises in Sant'Agata Bolognese, is open seven days a week from 9.30 a.m. to 7.00 p.m.
The Lamborghini Urus retails for SGD$798,000 excluding Certificate of Entitlement (COE). Available at Eurosports Auto, 24 Leng Kee Rd, #01-03, Singapore 159096