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The hills are rumbling to the sound of mud-pluggers - and a new king could be on the way! Lamborghini has designed a mighty 4x4 in response to Porsche's new Cayenne and Mercedes' forthcoming GST.

Our spies report that at the centre of all the activity is Lambo's technical partner, Audi, which is developing a new platform based on VW's potent Touareg. Audi revealed its interest at this year's Detroit Motor Show with the Pikes Peak, a seven-seater concept with impressive on and off-road ability. It's this model, penned by design chief Walter de'Silva, that will influence the Lambo, due in 2006.

Insiders say the car will not be a recreation of the mighty LM002, a limited-edition 450bhp V12 built between 1986 and 1993. Instead, it will offer a mix of tarmac performance and off-road versatility. Engines could include the recently revealed V10, which will debut this March in the Gallardo, mated to a six-speed semi-auto box. The 4x4 system is likely to be developed from VW's Touareg.

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