Lamborghini is a small and much-loved Italian supercar brand with ambitions to expand beyond its limited 3500 annual units. The Urus, whose name comes from the ancestral word for modern cattle, is the model designed to capture the car-buying zeitgeist and help make this a reality. It may not be the company’s first performance SUV – that honour goes to the LM002 from 1986, a military project that failed to attract military interest – but it is easily the most accomplished.
A spacious, practical four or five-seat SUV that has a Lamborghini badge on the bonnet. You weren’t expecting that, were you? Don’t worry, for the Urus still packs plenty of pointy Lambo presence and physicality to easily summon three-figure Instagram ‘likes’ as well as encourage anybody to move into the slow lane should one loom large in their mirror.
The cabin is festooned with a familiar mix of frameless doors, hexagon graphics, carbon, Alcantara and leather but there’s now four cupholders, Isofix points for mounting child car seats and a boot big enough to carry two sets of golf clubs. Strange times…
The centre console is dominated by two high definition touchscreens that offer haptic feedback and control everything from the digital radio and navigation to the climate control. Car fans may have spotted they’re both on a free transfer loan from the flagship Audi A8 saloon – remember Lamborghini belongs to the Volkswagen Group – as is some other core switchgear, but the interior remains refreshingly high on drama.
The starter button, for example, lurks behind a scarlet, fighter pilot-style flip-up cover, while a suite of configurable driver modes frame a palm-shaped gear selector. The modes include race-ready Corsa, Sport, Strada and Neve (snow), plus the optional Terra (off-road) and Sabbia (sand). Ride stiffness, steering and powertrain can all be individually adjusted, too. Oh, and to help make modern life that little bit easier, there’s a wireless charging pad for your mobile phone located beneath the armrest.
Unfortunately, there is no naturally aspirated V10 or V12 hidden up front. Instead, the Urus uses a 641bhp version of the now familiar twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 that has been used in both the Bentley Continental GT and Audi RS6. In fact, this is the first Lamborghini engine to feature turbochargers, with bosses preferring the high torque at low revs characteristics for its big SUV. Carbon ceramic discs are standard as are 21-inch alloys (massive 23-inch rims are optional), though you’ll need to pay extra for items like a sunroof, radar cruise control and the four-seat configuration.
How does it drive?
All performance SUVs come with the wrong ingredients for going fast: they’re too tall, too big, too heavy; yet the Urus feels the most sports car-like of any of the SUVs we’ve tested.
Let’s start on track, where the Urus can show off its prodigious performance. Thanks to an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox and 626lb ft of thrust available from a lowly 2250rpm, the 0-62mph sprint can be dispatched in 3.6 seconds and the car can carry on to a top speed of 190mph. The only vehicle that comes close to this level of insanity is the 707bhp Jeep Cherokee Trackawk, although that car hits the limiter at 180mph.
Corsa mode drops the ride height by 15mm while active torque vectoring means that up to 70 percent of total drive can go up front, or 87 percent can go rearwards when conditions permit. You can feel this power exchange seamlessly interplaying when entering and exiting a corner. We also love the monstrous grip on offer from the Pirelli P Zero tyres, the easy-to-modulate carbon brakes and the four-wheel steering, which helps the front end turn in more incisively than any SUV of this size has any right to.
There are also adaptive dampers featuring an electro-mechanical active roll stabilisation system. It’s the same trickery we’ve tested in the Bentley Bentayga, although there’s slightly more roll initiated here, offering a greater sensation of the car loading up at speed so you can better judge the grip levels.
It’s incredibly impressive but from the inside, your ears are still telling you you’re driving an RS6; even in the way the V8 clears its throat on upshifts. The engine’s familiarity doesn’t make it any less brilliant, mind; it’s just that no new era turbocharged unit could ever match Lambo’s typical 10- or 12-cylinder symphonies. That’s the cold truth people, so why bother comparing at all?
One thing that never changes, however, is the amount of attention this badge receives. Divisive the Urus may be, but it’s certainly a grower: less aftermarket than the carbon-bonneted Range Rover Sport SVR, less colour sensitive than the Bentley Bentayga, better finished than the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and more special than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S.
Back in town, a smooth-shifting gearbox and compliant (if you don’t choose 23-inch alloys) ride provide good low-speed manners, keeping coffee spillages to a minimum and making peacocking around Knightsbridge or the Vegas Strip remarkably easy.
It’s also weirdly spacious. Despite the aggressively raked roofline, there’s plenty of headroom and legroom for two adults in the back and the seats are big improvements on the torture racks you’ll find in other Lamborghini models. Normal-sized humans will find the seat cushions supportive and the bolsters forgiving, even following a carbtastic Italian lunch.
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Any other areas to report? Our test car didn’t feature a reversing camera, which seems like a silly oversight, while you should be aware that this is from the ‘let’s go to a Michelin starred country pub’ school of off-roaders. Yes, you can raise the body to improve ground clearance but it doesn’t have manual differential locks or a low-range gearbox. If you want a ‘proper’ supercar-like off-roader, the Mercedes-AMG G63 will be more up your street (and come back to Motor1 on May 5th for our first drive on the brash, iconic Merc super-SUV).
Should I buy one?
If you’re looking for a practical performance SUV that offers unprecedented levels of kerbside appeal and accessible dynamics, then this is the car for you.
Clearly, this is no ordinary Lamborghini yet it deserves to wear the badge: it looks mental, it’s the fastest SUV on sale and it can happily demolish a track as easily as a B-road. Of course, there’s less lunacy and more comfort when compared alongside Lamborghinis of yesteryear, but that’s also the case for the Huracan and Aventador. Engineering more usability and refinement into its cars is the modern Lambo way, and the fact the company expects the Urus to double sales volumes only serves to justify this decision.
Gallery: 2018 Lamborghini Urus