Lamborghini Urus: The Supercar SUV
It’s fair to say that there are only a handful of thoroughbred automotive brands in the world – and Lamborghini is one of them.
Purists say it’s not what it was because it’s been part of the VW Group, which also owns Audi, Porsche, Skoda, Seat and Bentley, since 1998.
But let’s not forget that after founder Ferruccio Lamborghini sold the company in 1973, it changed hands a few times including a short period as part of the Chrysler Corporation.
A lot has changed since then and Lamborghini under current CEO (and former Ferrari F1 team boss) Stefano Domenicali is thriving with the launch of the Huracan Performante Spyder and Aventador S Roadster in 2018.
Which brings us to the third newcomer – the epic Urus – a car Lamborghini is marketing as the first SSUV (Super Sports Utility Vehicle).
Sales of SUVs are booming and no car maker can afford not to have a contender in this sector – even brands with a sporting and/or luxury heritage.
Rolls-Royce has just taken the plunge with the Cullinan and even Ferrari has finally given in and is working on its first 4×4.
The Urus is arguably the most exciting SUV to date. As all car enthusiasts know, Lamborghini’s emblem is a raging bull and the company’s most famous creations are named after bulls (think Miura, Diablo, Murcielago and Aventador).
The name Urus is derived from a now extinct species of wild bulls that lived in Europe, Asia and North Africa – ancestors of today’s domestic cattle.
It’s also set to become a cash cow for Lamborghini as it’s expected to become the best-selling car in the company’s 55-year history.
Expectations are so high that the factory in Sant’Agata Bolognese, near Bologna, has literally doubled in size from 80,000 to 160,000 square metres in order to accommodate the Urus production line.
In 2017 Lamborghini sold 3,815 cars and it’s thought that figure could more than double within two years.
At 5112mm long and 2016mm wide, it’s one of the biggest 4x4s on the road. Its twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 produces 641bhp, allowing it sprint to 62mph (100kph) in just 3.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 189mph (305kph) – making it the fastest SUV on the market.
All that power is paired with a slick eight-speed automatic gearbox, which can of course be overridden using the enormous paddles behind the steering wheel.
Cynics argue that the Urus is too closely related to the Audi Q7, Bentley Bentayga, Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg to be considered a real Lambo.
It may share a platform with these other big SUVs, but the genius of the Urus is that it has an intoxicating look and personality all of its own. Get behind the wheel and it’s a thrilling experience – a supercar one minute and a very capable 4×4 the next.
It’s unmistakably a Lamborghini at first sight, featuring the wedge and hexagonal lines of the brand’s supercars in an aerodynamic coupe-like body style and boasting huge Y-shaped front air intakes.
The Urus is practical too. For the first time, a family of five can head off on a road trip in a Lamborghini – in comfort, style and speed. Despite that sloping roofline, it’s surprisingly spacious inside with more than enough room for adults front and rear. Open the hatch and there’s plenty of space for luggage too (616 litres, or 1,596 litres with the rear seats folded down).
As you’d expect from a car costing north of £165,000, it’s beautifully made with a modern, luxury feel inside – a sumptuous blend of fine leather, Alcantara, aluminium, carbon fibre and wood.
More hi-tech cockpit than cabin, there are twin touchscreens in the centre console – one controlling media, navigation, connectivity and car status, the other handling functions such as climate control – plus a digital display ahead of the driver. The high-definition infotainment system is classy and responsive. Thankfully, it’s not all about swiping and pinching, there are some traditional buttons and dials available too.
Naturally, features such as high beam assist, front and rear parking sensors, and autonomous emergency braking (AEB) are standard. Other tech goodies include wireless charging, a head-up display, night vision, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, plus there’s an optional Bang & Olufsen audio system packing 1,700 watts, 3D sound, and 21 speakers.
The unique ‘Tamburo’ driving dynamics selector, which sits alongside a red fighter jet-style starter button in the centre console, allows you to toggle between Strada (comfort), Sport (agility) and Ego (driver customised), plus three off-road settings – Neve (snow), Sabbia (sand) and Terra (general off-road).
I road-tested the Urus in and around Rome, which is a challenge at the best of times. It coped well and the commanding driving position helped, but you are aware that it’s a big car.
I stayed in the smooth Strada setting mostly, but it’s hard to resist the temptation to switch to Sport in tunnels – the only way to savour the car’s thundering quad-exhaust note, punctuated by pops and crackles on the overrun. Depending on your mood, the Urus will cruise along happily or aggressively lap up the miles.
Then it was time to stretch it to the limits on and off track at the impressive Autodromo Vallelunga facility, about 40 kilometres north of Rome.
As you can see from the press launch picture, the reception was impressive, featuring Lamborghini executives, support staff and pro drivers, plus a dozen Urus SSUVs, a Huracan and Aventador.
Vallelunga – a tight, technical circuit – was ideal for taking the Urus to its limits. Despite its size, it’s a forgiving car on track. In fact, it’s remarkably agile, almost defying physics.
Thanks to four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering, active rear torque vectoring, adaptive air suspension with active dampers, a roll stabilisation system and huge 440mm front carbon ceramic brakes (the largest on any production car) it feels totally planted with well controlled body roll in corners, superb acceleration and serious traction. And, of course, it sounded amazing – the engine’s V8 roar on track is something else.
Such is Lamborghini’s confidence in the car, our next stop was a specially-prepared off-road circuit just beside the autodromo.
Testing SUVs on rougher terrain usually means lots of challenging low-speed climbs and descents, plus mud and water challenges.
Off-roading Lamborghini-style took us out on a sweeping gravel and sand circuit. More rallycross than anything, it was all about speed. It coped remarkably well, but I can’t see many Urus owners putting their pride and joy through that kind of punishment.
Verdict: The Lamborghini Urus is nothing short of a revelation. Ridiculously fast, yet practical, versatile, safe and luxurious, it’s surely one of the world’s most capable cars.