The Lamborghini Urus fills a unique niche for drivers who want super sports car dynamics and versatile off-road abilities with the practicality of a daily driver, writes Craig Donaldson
Lamborghini unveiled the Urus – its first-ever SUV (or SSUV (super sports utility vehicle) as Lamborghini puts it) in late 2017, and it seems people like it. In the first six months of 2019, for example, Lamborghini delivered more than 4500 cars to customers around the world – which was almost double the number compared to the same period the previous year. This growth was driven mostly by sales of the Urus, and it’s hitting a sweet spot with customers for a good reason.
Lamborghini’s R&D engineers deserve a pat on the back for getting everything so right with the Urus. They have nailed the brief of designing a car that delivers benchmark power and performance in the SUV category which appeals to customers seeking a more practical and versatile daily driver than Lamborghini’s traditional 2-seater high-performance cars.
Power and performance
The Urus is still very much a Lamborghini at heart. It is powered by a thumping 4.0 litre V8 twin-turbo engine which delivers a mammoth 478 kW of power at 6000 rpm and 850 Nm of torque at 2250 rpm. It has one of the highest specific power outputs in its class as well as the best weight-to-power ratio – which propels the Urus from 0-100 km/h in 3.6 seconds all the way to a top speed of 305 km/h. This makes the Urus the fastest SUV available on the market.
When pressed, the acceleration in the Urus is visceral; taking off is like getting launched out a rocket. Lamborghini is the automotive brand associated with the raging bull, and the Urus is the raging bull on anabolic steroids – poke a stick at this car and it will kick back.
Yet the Urus is a versatile beast (it takes its name from one of the large, wild ancestors of domestic cattle, as Lamborghini likes things derived from the world of bulls) and is equally at home on the track as it is poking around urban backstreets, stretching its legs on long journeys or even tackling off-road terrain. It features six different driving modes which are selected by way of a ‘tamburo’ driving dynamics controller (shaped like a small drum) located on the centre console. Consider this a personality selector for the Urus. The default mode is “strada” (Italian for street) which is optimised for comfort, while the sport setting ratchets up performance and lowers the Urus’ suspension to provide for a more stable and precise driving experience. The “strada” mode is self-explanatory (it is Italian for race). As a true SUV the Urus also comes with three off-road modes: “neve” (snow), “terra” (off-road) and “sabia” (sand).
The Urus comes with adaptive air suspension system, which enables the vehicle to be raised or lowered according to road and driving conditions (ride height can be further adjusted via the settings of the tamburo controller in the centre console). Another unique feature of the Urus is rear-wheel steering (introduced in the Aventador S range) which varies up to +/- 3.0 degrees, according to vehicle speed and the driving mode selected.
An optional off-road package is also available, which includes specific metal-reinforced bumpers and additional underfloor protection for off-roading in snow, forest or even dune surfing.
The Urus’ exhaust system has also been calibrated to vary the sound it produces based on different modes, from quieter and more-comfortable-on-the-ears low-frequency sounds in “strada” mode, through to a note which is akin to the automotive equivalent of rather angry bull in “corsa” mode. Kudos again to Lamborghini for their attention to detail here, as this really is a treat for the aural senses.
Attention to detail is really evident in the urban driving experience. Even though the Urus is a big car by most standards (with a wheelbase of just over 3 metres) it has a great turning circle, is easy to park (it comes with front and rear parking sensors as well as an optional top-view camera) and great all-round visibility for driver and passengers.
The exterior design of the Urus is somewhat understated compared to other models in the Lamborghini stable, which is in line with the automotive marque’s desire to create a more practical daily driver. It is certainly not loud or brash, but still turns a lot of heads on the street, with a good number of people looking to take photos or videos as it passes by.
“The Urus is the raging bull on anabolic steroids – poke a stick at this car and it will kick back”
But as far as SUVs go, it still carries a formidable on-road presence with a peaked bonnet mound (reminiscent of Lamborghini’s Miura and Aventador), large hexagonal air intakes positioned above an imposing front fender and massive 21-inch to 23-inch wheels – the largest in the SUV segment. The rear of the Urus sports strong, taut lines, with a roofline which broadens at the base of the roof panel (in the style of Lamborghini models including the Countach and Murciélago) while the rear diffuser is also inspired by Lamborghini race cars down to the integrated twin exhaust pipes.
The Urus adopts the traditional two-thirds body, one-third window ratio of Lamborghini super sports cars, and overall its proportions are more akin to the crossover coupe SUVs that have been popular in recent times for other brands (think Mercedes-Benz’s GLE Coupe range or BMW’s X6 series). Lamborghini’s R&D engineers also paid special attention to the Urus’ aerodynamics, which contribute to improved ride comfort and internal acoustics, reduced fuel consumption and emissions as well as higher levels of downforce at speed.
Style and functionality are key themes in the Urus’ interior. The interior is certainly plush as far as most car interiors go, with generous use of high-quality materials including the finest leather, Alcantara, aluminum, carbon fibre and wood.
There are acres of comfortable space for up to five occupants internally with plenty of headroom and legroom. The standard front memory sport seats are fully electric, heated and 12-way adjustable, while 18-way fully-electric front seats (which include ventilation and massage features) are available as an option. These seats are something special: uniquely firm and solid, yet comfortable like a high-quality lounge chair. The Urus comes in a five-seat configuration as standard (it can be ordered as an optional four-seater) while the three-seat rear bench can be lowered to extend boot space from 616 litres to 1596 litres.
“Lamborghini’s R&D engineers deserve a pat on the back for getting everything so right with the Urus”
The Urus truly is a driver’s car, with the interior oriented around the person behind the steering wheel (which even incorporates a vibration damper to enhance comfort in all rougher conditions). The Urus’ infotainment system is jam-packed with other forward-thinking features. The touchscreen infotainment displays across two screens, with the upper screen acting as the key interface for entertainment functions such as media, navigation, telephone and car status information. The lower screen provides a keyboard and hand-writing-compatible screen for inputting information and controlling functions such as climate control and seat heating.
Other features include innovative connected voice control which is able to recognise natural-dialogue voice commands to manage functions such as music, telephone calls or send text messages. There’s also a DVD player, TV tuner, heads-up display and smart display for rear seat entertainment (great for placating easily bored children) – all made very enjoyable through a high-end 1,700 watt Bang & Olufsen sound system with 3D sound.
The Urus is a clever car too, and features a comprehensive range of safety, security and driving options. A great example of this is its “PreCognition” system (think of the movie Minority Report, in which gifted psychics are able to see into the future in order to prevent crimes) which is constantly monitoring for dangers and hazards in order to prevent or mitigate collisions. In some cars these systems are overly cautious to the point of being unnecessarily intrusive, but the Urus has got the balance between great safety and an unspoiled driving experience just right.
Overall the Urus is easily the most impressive SUV on the road. It is an easy and pleasing drive for those wanting a daily commuter, while it is more than capable of delivering eye-bulging performance when prompted.