Six years seems long enough to digest the fact that Lamborghini – longtime purveyors of scissor-doored sensationalism – have decided to go the SUV route. Back in 2012, when the brand announced its plans to make a new super-SUV, it was seen as an act of uncharacteristic conformity, prompting indignant 9-year olds the world over to set their bedroom walls ablaze, or something equally dramatic. Truth be told, making SUVs isn’t very left-of-field for Lambo, who took a stab at it in the ‘80’s, giving us the LM002. Despite the car selling like whatever’s the opposite of hot cakes, Lambo claims that the lantern-jawed ‘Rambo’ Lambo’s genealogy has found its way into its descendent.
It’s called the Urus (pronounced ‘Ooo-roos’), and while it may be no great friend to the polar bear, it’s here to save Lamborghini. You see, the firm currently sells about 3,500 cars a year and aims to double that number, and therefore double its profits, which in turn will be funneled towards producing more wedge-shaped madness in the decades to come.
So the Urus is a hero, and as such deserves a hero’s welcome. Of course, it’s not a traditional Lamborghini – it has two extra seats at the back instead of 12 cylinders, but it has a greater right to be on a racetrack than any other fast SUV in the world right now. And that’s exactly where I encountered one – at the Vallelunga Circuit in Rome, where it awaited me, looking primed and purposeful in Lambo’s trademark shade of canary yellow. In profile, it’s more coupe-like, with a wider rear track, a chiselled nose and an overall muscularity which suggests its looks are borrowed heavily from modern-day Lambos. Unlike most modern-day Lambos, though, it’s got a frontmounted twin-turbo V8 engine – a first for the brand.
Moments prior to its departure from the pit-lane, the Urus emits a gruff bark upon ignition. It’s no screamer like the Huracan, but it informs anyone within a quarter-mile radius of its race-bred heritage. With a 641 bhp power output, we’re firmly in supercar territory – what remains to be seen is how they’re deployed on tarmac. One hot lap later, you’re no longer conscious of the fact that this is an SUV. You’re sitting a little higher, but you’re snug, and after that everything about the Urus screams of supercardom. It’s got the same colon-crushing acceleration, particularly in ‘Corsa’ mode, where it grunts and growls towards the redline (hitting a wall at 6700 rpm). A large, ballistic utility vehicle is no longer the scientific impossibility it once appeared to be. But they’re yet to master the art of cornering. Or they were, because thanks to torque vectoring through a centre and rear differential, none of the four Pirelli Corsa tyres on this thing ever lose the slightest bit of traction. It remains so resolutely planted during hard cornering that body roll may as well be some avante-garde, hipster fitness routine. Sure, the steering could benefit from being a little less sterile, but there’s little in terms of free play and it takes the car precisely where you direct it.
Another remarkable feat of engineering is the way it devours its own two-tonne kerb weight and belches it out through its twin-pipe exhaust. The only time you feel its bulk is upon hard braking, and even then it maintains its composure while steamrolling the laws of physics into compliance. What would have been a cherry on the cake was the Huracan’s dual-clutch gearbox, but, alas, the Urus makes do with an eight-speed automatic ‘box.
3 TFT screens,
recognition, 6 driving
B&O audio system
Before you ask, yes, the Urus can go off-road. What I got a taste of wasn’t a methodical, precisely articulated hill-climb simulation, but rather a frenzied, madcap run through a makeshift dirt track near the circuit. Why? Because Lamborghini, that’s why. Admittedly it’s a strange sensation, looking over a steering wheel with that logo staring at you, and no tarmac on the horizon – usually a sign of things gone horribly wrong. It turns out the Urus is perfect for a spot of off-reading, since the torque kicks in a smidge above 2000 rpm. Again, a clever bit of torque active vectoring snaps it back into place should you smash the throttle to the floor and get the tail out a bit. Switching to ‘Terra’ mode raises the car’s overall ground clearance by about 400mm, turning the Urus into a proper point-and shoot device. In the right pair of hands (i.e a professional Lambo test pilot) it winds its way around a dirt track like a rally car.
EBD, ABS, traction
Lamborghini have described the Urus as their most generous car yet, in the sense that it allows a greater number of people to partake in the Lamborghini experience. So it goes without saying that the Urus needs to have a fairly domesticated side to it. Switch to ‘Terra’ and you see it immediately. The throttle response is softer, as is the suspension. And suddenly, this is a family car. Up front, you have enough alcantara and leather to mark it out as a Lambo, but it divides its multimedia, SatNav and infotainment duties with three touch screens, making it one of the most sophisticated cockpits to date. The gauges, however, continue to be straight out of a gaming arcade, so it’s good to know that the Urus isn’t too sensible for its shoes.
Rs 3.10 CR
There’s no denying that in the coming years, a lot more performance will be squeezed out of large SUVs, and in that respect, the Urus will stand as a benchmark, because none belonging to its tribe can go toe-to-toe against it on its best day – or any other day, for that matter. The VW group has thrown in their juiciest tech into making one very adaptive bobcat, which has to deliver on fronts that driveway ornaments never have to bother with. Lamborghini needs a workhorse in their stables, and if the pre-booking numbers are anything to go by, it looks like they’ve found one.