Family man’s supercar. Inevitable yet enjoyable: Lamborghini’s SUV is here. Words and photos Adam Towler.
If you’re a Lamborghini traditionalist who dreams of a DayGlo-hued Countach blasting down a deserted autostrada, the idea of a 2.2-ton SUV powered by a turbocharged V8 shared with Porsche and Audi might sound tantamount to heresy.
If so, I’m afraid you’ll need to wake up to the realities of the new-car market, 2018. Lamborghini’s customers have spoken: they’d like a high driving position, practicality, usability and all the other qualities associated with the modern SUV. Building a spiritual successor to the wonderful Espada was not, sadly, on their wishlist. Yes, there was the LM002: no, the 2019 Urus UK-version is not that kind of thing, either.
Lamborghini’s approach to creating an SUV has been to build the fastest one, whether on road, circuit or gravel stage. To achieve those aims it has taken the same platform that underpins the Porsche Cayenne PO536 and Audi Q7 4M, but cherry-picked from the group’s technological inventory. There’s the 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8, comprehensively re-engineered by Lamborghini, producing a startling 641bhp and 627lb ft of torque. It’s mated to the group’s ubiquitous eight-speed auto-box, and then to a drivetrain that uses Torsen centre differential and torque-vectoring rear.
There are also active anti-roll bars and rear-wheel steering, to go with the adaptive air suspension, giant carbon-ceramic brake discs and seemingly limitless driving modes. Longer, wider but lower than a Cayenne, the Urus is an intimidatingly large car when you stand next to it, yet the driving position feels notably low-set. Materials match the latest Audi touchscreen infotainment system for quality, and there’s ample space (buyers can choose either a three-seat bench or two individual chairs), plus 600 litres in the luggage hold.
Set off and the immediate impression is of startling acceleration: for something so big and heavy it is indecently rapid, with 0-62mph dispatched in 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 189mph. Lamborghini has also worked hard to cheat physics with the Urus’s handling. It’s highly unlikely that you would ever take one to a circuit, but having done exactly that I can report that it does things an SUV really shouldn’t be able to, and would put the sweats on many a hot hatch.
Yes, you’re always conscious of its weight, and it’s hardly a delicate, multi-faceted experience, but there’s no denying its effectiveness. On the road the Urus is surprisingly agile and precise, with light, fast steering, aided by the rear wheels turning, and excellent overall refinement – apart from the ride quality, that is, which fidgets badly over poor surfaces.
Our car wore optional 23in wheels, and their slim sidewalls might have been partly to blame. Until we drive one on 21in or 22in wheels – and on UK roads – the jury is out on this piece of the puzzle, but in all other respects Lamborghini has interpreted the à-la-mode SUV concept very well indeed.