The idea of putting extreme performance into a tall-bodied car used to be absurd. That was before the advent of sophisticated dynamic software. The Germans showed it could be done and the previously unthinkable is now the norm.
Long before Ferrari joins the party, two other Italian thoroughbreds will add SUVs to their line-ups. Arriving in the first quarter is Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio, which the brand claims will be the most dynamic SUV in the mid-size segment. It features a lightweight body with the mass distributed evenly front-rear, all-wheel drive via a carbon-fibre driveshaft and eight-speed automatic gearbox. Entry-level Stelvios feature a 149kW 2.0-litre turbo-petrol unit with a new generation 154kW 2.2-litre diesel the next rung up. The flagship model Quadrifoglio, powered by a 375kW turbo 2.9-litre V6, recently set a lap record at Nürburgring for SUVs.
Lamborghini has made an SUV before. The LM002 started life as a military project from the late 1980s and the eventual road car – with a 5.2-litre V12, 200km/h top speed and the ability to climb walls – looked like it was ready to invade a small nation. Just 300 were built. Lamborghini will make a lot more Urus, which will be unveiled in Italy on December 4. The Urus has been described as the first Super Sports Utility Vehicle, or SSUV. Under the bonnet is expected to be the brand’s first turbocharged engine, a 4.0-litre V8, capable of a sub-4 second sprint to 100km/h. Plug-in hybrid drivelines will follow.
Aston Martin is another low-volume maker expecting an SUV to supercharge sales. Work began this year on a second UK manufacturing site, in Wales, to build the DBX starting in 2019, with capacity to make 7000 a year. Revealed as a concept two years ago at Geneva, Aston signed off on the design a few months ago after changing to a four-door configuration with a higher roof line. Underneath is a modified version of the bonded aluminium structure that sits under Aston’s new generation sportscars, which debuted with the DB11. The DBX will share that car’s engines, which comprise a turbocharged 5.2-litre V12 of Aston’s own design plus a turbo 4.0-litre V8 from Mercedes-AMG. It’s also expected to offer a hybrid petrol driveline and a pure electric version.
Thoroughbreds: from top, Lamborghini Urus, Aston Martin DBX Concept, Alfa Romeo Stelvio