‘If so-and-so jumped off a cliff, would you as well?’ My mother’s words were often heard by me when proffering some excuse for some misdeed or another. I suspect it was also a phrase used in R&D departments across the automotive world when Porsche first broke cover on the Cayenne, some 20 years ago. By the year end, we will have both a raging bull and a prancing horse on the bonnet of an SUV. Looks like everyone adopted lemming syndrome and took the plunge off that cliff.
To that end, I have in my possession for the next week, the Lamborghini Urus – not the brand’s first foray into the segment. For seven glorious years, the tractor boys of Sant’Agata shoehorned the Countach’s V12 into a front engine behemoth, the LM002. That was a car that was so unmistakably Lamborghini, it could probably have done away with any badges, and not one person would have been in doubt as to what it was. With their return marque, the Urus, I would wager that no one is in doubt as to what it is either. Design department: tick.
There is sometimes a theme in automotive tests, where, for want of entertainment, a concept is created, one that rarely showcases any usable information on the car in question. ‘We hooked a caravan to the Urus and entered the Harewood Hillclimb’. I mean, what in the hell is that telling the intended purchaser? Unless it’s an Airstream, and the hill climb is actually the Tete de Chien, it’s normally well wide of the mark. So, a week of the mundane beckons. Because if it doesn’t do the mundane well, then surely, it’s not replacing the weekend bull or horse.
READ THE LAMBORGHINI URUS ARTICLE IN THE SPRING EDITION HERE:
Anyway, stylistically – as mentioned before, to my eyes, it is without doubt a Lamborghini product. Translating that DNA into a product that shares much across the VAG machine is no easy task. Many would say that the side-by-side models of various brands represent nothing more than more expensive clothing than the next. If the SUV is, say, a do everything jacket, what benefit is really seen in buying Moncler over Matalan? That argument does a disservice to how hard each marque goes to maintaining the identity, not only from an aesthetic point of view, but also in the dynamic makeup of the cars, despite sharing drivetrains, for example. Last issue I sampled Bentley’s wonderful new Bentayga, a car sharing the luxury SUV space with the Urus. They could not be more different. Step into an Audi RSQ8, different again.
Now, I’m a huge fanboy of the brand. The Murcielago followed Diablo that followed Countach on my childhood bedroom wall. Were it not for an ‘adult’ relationship and the rolled eyes of my girlfriend, the Aventador would have no doubt followed suit. Live, laugh, love, indeed. So, it took fair effort to prise the rose-tinted spectacles from my wide eyes. Eyewear downed, the Urus retains the same jutting angular nose that we see across that Lamborghini range, and one that goes far to indicate heritage and intent. A high waistline and tapering roof add to the aggressive profile, continuing the two-thirds body, one-third window ratio seen in their sports cars. Add swollen hips housing gargantuan rims and the pomp is turned up to 11, maybe even 12.
Inside, the theatrical nature that one desires from a Lamborghini continues, and retains enough individuality that one is conscious that this is a standalone product, very much cutting its own cloth. The fighter jet-inspired, red metal flap housing the start button adds to this theatre. In configured state, the example supplied made the most of creating an internal environment that made for a spectacular place to spend time. Four seat configuration does reinforce the super SUV image and is the option that I would select. Front and rear cloaked in glossy carbon fibre and a rather natty honeycomb stitching pattern create an ambience that hugs like a sports car would, but sat higher. With a large panoramic glass roof, it is by no means stifling, and many hours could happily pass before any discomfort or discontent set in. The best aspects of the group are used in that the infotainment is lifted from Audi and, really, is the benchmark for this generation of touch screen technology. A secondary screen that controls the climate and seat functionality works far better than when I first encountered the system in the current generation of Audi A7. The graphics remain bright, even in sunshine, and one is able to access functions easily and a satisfactory haptic response lets you know that it’s properly selected. Apple CarPlay makes for easy connectivity for music, messaging and the pretty standardised use of traffic application, Waze.
Belt fastened, tumescence quelled, I lift the flap, depress the brake pedal and fire the start button. Guttural. Barking. Snarling. Cold starts are a joyous thing. As the heat cycle finishes and the revs slow to a trundle, a bassey tone takes over. One my girlfriend referred to as “like a tractor”. If only she knew. Added to the poster issues, this car makes me question a lot more than its dynamic ability. Though I digress.
The car holds six preconfigured modes, selected through the ‘Tamburo’. This is a solid, tactile selector that engages with a satisfying clunk, and allows for modes Street, Sport and Corsa. Then off-road modes for sand, gravel and snow. A mirrored selector named ‘EGO’ allows for individual settings for drivetrain, steering and suspension; three modes for each. Street is the standard Tamburo setting, Sport opens the pipes somewhat and adds to the general ‘lol’ factor by about 873%. Corsa is ludicrous. In several ways. First gear is so long that, if sat in traffic, it’s loud and burns fuel like the jet fighter it emulates. Also, ‘Race’ in an SUV would seem somewhat of an anathema.
However – and this is the true attraction of the car – who cares? Really, who the fuck cares? It is hilarious. When in space to open it up, throttle response is razor sharp and the noise this thing creates is another level. ANOTHER LEVEL. Whoosh, bang, crack, pop. Laugh. Repeat ad infinitum. It’s brilliant, and exactly the visceral experience I want – nay, demand – from the car. Exhaust note is determined by engine speed, so as you get hyped, as does the car, creating an ever-revolving circle of amusement. It isn’t the most usable setting, but you have the others for that. God be damned if at least once a journey, let alone once a day, did I find myself sneaking the selector down two pulls, popping both front windows down and hunting tunnels like they were duck on 1 September.
Then there’s the speed. Ohhhhh, the speed. A claimed 3.6 second sprint to 62 feels every bit that. No, it feels faster. In a car this size it feels hyperspeed. The drivetrain in this guise equates to 650hp and 850Nm or torque. Turned up to 12, as I said. Christ, maybe that’s actually 13? Gears are selected easily through rigid and well-formed paddles. They sit at good distance and provide good substance below the fingers allowing engagement. The eight-speed box is mated to a torque convertor developed specifically for the model to guarantee engine response. The familiar twin scroll turbo V8 plant runs those turbos side by side to reduce lag even further. Two separate exhaust flows further complement the engine by eliminating cross interference. The engine is sat low in the car allowing for a good centre of gravity. Occupants are kept very much straight and true by the use of torque vectoring technology, which translates to higher agility through less steering effort. Active torque vectoring through the rear differential means that power is instantly and individually sent to each wheel for supreme traction in all modes and road conditions. Roll is minimal, but in Strada, the chassis and damping are surprisingly compliant, without giving a soggy feel.
The Urus is not short of technology. Rear steering that first premiered in the Aventador S, aids manoeuvrability by effectively shortening the wheelbase by up to 600mm, which also aids stability across the speed range. This all makes for strong nose feel and good corner speed. It isn’t rock-solid concrete, but it isn’t a race car. It’s a usable, comfortable, relatively practical car. That just so happens to possess a second, angrier face. Cylinder shut down adds to the practicality element and I managed to see 24mpg on a longish motorway run.
An 85-litre tank means that driven vaguely respectably, fair distances can be covered, and with an easily accessible 616 litres of load space, a weekend in the Alps wouldn’t be a chore. The adaptive air suspension that converts those Tamburo settings and electromechanical active roll stabilisation, a first in a Lamborghini, flattens road surfaces with huge effectiveness. The snow setting further convinces you of that Alpine journey. Bringing you to a stop are carbon ceramic discs, the front, all 440mm of them are a thing to behold in themselves. Braking power in the Urus is mega. Though pedal feel can require a little adjustment, as can often be the case with ceramics. Housing those serving platters of discs are a range of alloy wheel options, ranging from the large 21 inch to the huge 23 – the largest available in the segment.
Hooliganism and hilarity aside for a moment – what the car actually does very well is wear each of its hats with aplomb. As described, should one want to decimate a B road, and fill the air with the sounds of a military tattoo, that’s the flick of a button. However, should you need to pop the kids and dog into the rear, fill the boot up with the accoutrements of daily life and pootle down to the shops, again that’s achieved with minimal issue. My own puppy was as impressed as I was – and judging by her behaviour since, a little annoyed at me for not owning one. It’s testament to how well Lamborghini has done, that the sheer breadth of ability is quite outstanding. I think it would take a better driver than yours truly to draw out major criticism from the chassis or dynamism of the car. I would add that it would genuinely surprise me if that was an issue levelled at the Urus. It’s an SUV after all, and to expect it to perform a la Huracan or Aventador would be folly indeed. But it achieves a lot of what those two cars offer, whilst bringing so much more to the party. I mean, you can bring two more people home from that party for a start.
As a complete package that can be used as an accessible daily driver, whilst bringing the brand to a whole new demographic of buyer, it takes some beating. On the road, it has immense presence, but can be enjoyed with no more difficulty than a runamill Volkswagen Golf. As one samples through the various modes, the car comes alive under you, and dynamically provides more than enough response and direction for a lot of fun to be had where the road and visibility allows. The use of electronic systems that could be seen as nanny aids in a sports car, only help to create a product that can satisfy and secure the occupants in such a solid way. It is by no means small, with the aforementioned hips looming large in one’s side mirrors. Again, however, this only seems to add to the event that driving it inevitably becomes.
Lamborghini have performed admirably in retaining their brand identity in a product that, at first glance, would seem out of their wheelhouse. The Urus retains enough of that DNA to bring a smile to one’s face and an increase to one’s heart rate. It says much about what they have achieved that I do feel they could have shoehorned their V12 into it, charged double what they do, and they would still have sold the number that they have. I guess that is the real pull of the brand. That despite German parentage and restraint, the team at Sant’Agata have still been given enough free reign to make things we don’t need, but want so, so much. It is well made; it doesn’t have glitches. Not once in the week I had the car did anything go wrong. The leather, the carbon fibre, switchgear, and touchpoints, all are made with purpose and retain a tactility and style that is befitting the brand.
I found myself reaching for the keys for the most pedestrian of tasks. Those where being a pedestrian probably would have made more sense. It allowed me to turn the everyday into what a day. And it did it well. Shopping, the dog walks, finding a reason to take the long route to buy stamps. All were completed with a maniacal grin, and each journey ended with me looking back at the parked car. Always a good sign.
Ask me for a gripe. Go on, I have one ready, specially. I didn’t like the steering wheel. It reminded me too much of the wheel seen in the Audi range. That’s it. I have tried for a good long while to think of the negatives associated with the car and it’s a difficult thing to do. Any issues with the car supplied came down to simple differences as to what I would or would not have specified from the option sheet. But it would still be an Urus.
Many may say that it’s a bit of a sledgehammer to crack the daily driver nut. It’s not. It is bringing Thor’s hammer to crack the nut. But – and here’s the thing – if your end result is to crack a nut, why not do it in the most enjoyable way possible?