New Lamborghini SUV: 'Cool enough' for the brand

Lamborghini, known for its sleek, beautiful high-performance sports cars, unveiled a concept SUV (not shown in inset) at the 2012 Beijing auto show. In keeping with the world-renowned company's style, it brought a "cool" look to the vehicle type known more for its practicality and squared-off lines.

Over the years, the name Lamborghini has become synonymous with class, style, and high-performance. Its vehicles are hand-made and come with a price tag meant to convey distinction. They are the epitome of an ultimate cool driving machine. And although most of its models throughout the carmaker's history have run to the sportier side, the rise of the SUV market has attracted the company's designers. At the Auto China 2012 car show in Beijing, Lamborghini unveiled its latest edition to the more family oriented automobile, the Urus. According to the company's CEO, it is "cool enough" to be called a Lamborghini.

"What we want to build is a real Lamborghini in any market segment we enter," Stephan Winkelmann told CNN Money in a telephone interview from Beijing. He said the company could have produced a sedan, but that just would not have been cool enough.

Winkelmann said that Lamborghini wanted a vehicle that could be driven on an everyday basis.

"Today, we are not building cars which are meant to driven on a daily basis from 'point a' to 'point b,'" he said, "and this car is exactly that."

The Urus was one of the new designs on display at the Beijing car show, where many of the new models showcased "green" technology. According to AFP, of the 120 future vehicles, 88 were either electric or some form of hybrid vehicle.

Although the Lamborghini Urus is not technically a "green" vehicle, its 600 horsepower engine is designed to emit less carbon dioxide -- a gas believed to be a major contributor to global warming -- than any vehicle currently in its class.

With emphasis on street performance, the Urus is an all-wheel drive "crossover" vehicle. It has large 24-inch wheels and, in keeping with the Lamborghini sports car style, a low to the ground profile, rising only to a total of 5 feet 6 inches off the ground. Much of the interior is constructed with lightweight, durable -- and expensive -- carbon fiber. And instead of side mirrors, the Urus comes equipped with side cameras that transfer images to screens mounted on each side of the car's cockpit.

Automobili Lamborghini usually rolls out about 2,000 super sports cars per year. Current plans are for roughly 3,000 Urus' to be added to the total.

[Check out the Lamborghini Urus photo gallery]

As strange as it might sound, the SUV is not new territory for Lamborghini. They produced the LM002 model from 1987 to 1992. Lamborghini Cars, a website for enthusiasts, noted that 328 were made. The original retail price at the time of production was around $89,000 for the more jeep-looking vehicle. Over time, the model has kept its value. A second-hand LM002 still costs in the neighborhood of $100,000.

A price has yet to be set for the "cool" SUV concept vehicle. However, given that the carmaker produces for the luxury sports car market, it would be safe to estimate a price tag in the six-digit range. Lamborghini's current automobile line-up consists of two basic models: the Aventador, which sports a V-12 engine and is available at prices starting at about $375,000, and the Gallardo, powered by a V-10 engine, that starts at about $180,000. Both are available in several hard-top and convertible variations.

(photo credit: Detectandpreserve, Creative Commons)

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