Lamborghini revs up to SUV success with the Urus
Pin-point accurate steering, cornering and powerful engine make for a beguiling package
The Urus costs £165,000 (€186,000) in the UK, and that’s before you even glance at the options list.
Date Reviewed: October 1, 2018
Ferrari may have set the cognoscenti into a tailspin when it announced its plans for an SUV, but in reality resistance to the wave of Chelsea tractors ended years ago.
Porsche proved with the Cayenne that there’s money to be made from Chelsea tractors, while the mainstream brands have opted to prioritise SUVs and crossovers years ago.
In fact, Ferrari will not even be the first supercar brand with an SUV: that questionable honour falls upon its Italian neighbour Lamborghini, with the Urus, which arrived in its glitzy showrooms this year.
The fact the prancing horse was pipped by the raging bull is unsurprising. Lambo has never been averse to trying new formats. In fact Ferruccio Lamborghini was building tractors in 1948, 15 years before he started making sports cars. And in the heyday of Lamborghini’s Countach craze in the 1980s it even turned its hand at a heavy-duty off-roader. Dubbed the “Rambo Lambo” and initially built for the military, the LM wasn’t as much a SUV as a tank. Mike Tyson had one to go with his Bengal tigers, as did the Sultan of Brunei.
Yet the idea of a supercar SUV – for footballer’s wives to bring their future social media stars to school – should send a shudder down the spine of any right-thinking car nut.
It looks like a sharper, more pointed version of the new Audi Q8
So how does the Urus hold up? Let’s get down to the stats first.
The Urus is a fully-fledged SUV, weighing in at 2.2 tonnes and sharing its underpinnings with fellow Volkswagen siblings such as the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne. In fact in styling, it looks like a sharper, more pointed version of the new Audi Q8.
Inside the tech wizardry of Audi world mixes with the fighter plane format preferred by supercar buyers.
Flip the fighter jet bright red cover on the starter switch and kick the Urus into action, you realise this is more than your average SUV. True, it’s not the thundering chorus of the V10 or V12 you might expect in a supercar, but the 4-litre twin-turbo V8 does emit an entertainingly hair-raising tune. And it’s fast. The 640bhp on tap hurtles this giant to 100km/h from a standing start in 3.6 seconds. By the time your stopwatch reads 7.6 seconds, the Urus is already passing 160km/h. Behind the wheel you need to remind yourself that this is a 2.2 tonne SUV.
Clearly the Lambo engineers have excelled themselves in terms of physics defying mechanics and computer magic. This become particularly apparent in the bends. While the Urus boasts four-wheel steering, the most remarkable trait of this car is the precision steering. There’s also a remarkable active roll stability control system, which stiffens the outside suspension in corners, leaving the body level through bends. The Urus can do off road as well – though you’ve have to be mad to try it given the price tag.
There are six different engine and powertrain modes from which to choose, comprising three on-road modes including the Corsa for track fun and three off-road modes. The most remarkable facet, however, is how sedate this car is in Strada mode. It’s as easy and relaxed to drive as any comfortable family SUV. No drama, no diva antics, no bullish kickback.
We drove through towns where the Urus was worth more than the houses
So, it’s quick, poised and spacious inside, a school-run supercar. But in doing so it loses much of its lustre. Those who shop in Lamborghini showrooms aren’t shrinking violets: they want to make a statement of their wealth and success and scream it down the road. Too many times we drove through towns where the Urus was worth more than the houses and no one blinked an eye. At one roundabout three workmen barely gave the Lambo a second glance. A few hours later when we drove past in an Aston Martin they nearly got themselves run over trying to take photographs of the car with their phones.
The Urus costs £165,000 (€186,000) in the UK, and that’s before you even glance at the options list, or consider the hefty tax bill for importing the car into the Republic. For that price, I suspect Lamborghini owners don’t want to be ignored. And that’s the Urus’s weakest point.
So can the Urus be a cash cow for the raging bull? Lamborghini certainly thinks so. It is predicting sales of this SUV will double the firm’s current annual production of 3,500 cars, providing much-needed funding for the development of new electric powertrains, not to mention more thoroughbred low-slung supercars.
But will it be regarded in the same light as a Huracan or an Aventador? Not a hope. The history of motoring is filled with failed attempts by supercar manufacturers to launch alluring family cars. The Urus may overcome that resistance thanks to the wider global appetite for SUVs, but it’s hard to see it as anything other than an Audi derivative bedecked in the trappings of the raging bull.
Lowdown: Lamborghini Urus
Engine: 4-litre twin-turbo petrol V8 putting out 640bhp and 850Nm of torque;
0-100km/h: 3.6 seconds
Motor tax (emissions): €2,350 (292 g/km)
Price: From £165,000 in the UK
Our rating: 2/5
Verdict: Scorchingly fast SUV but at this price it’s neither full supercar not as jaw-dropping as it could be.