The idea of a Lamborghini SUV might seem utterly ridiculous, but this is not the first time that the iconic Italian manufacturer has been down this road.
Lamborghini have been toying with the SUV idea for a couple of years now and in they the early 80s they experimented with the LM002. No doubt styled with a steel rule over some strong Espresso the LM002 was where it all began for the performance SUV sector. Initially destined for military use, that never materialised when the thought of tuning six carburettors saw soldiers running back to their Humvees.
The civilian version was decorated with Italian leather, thick carpets and bespoke Pirelli Scorpion run flat tyres. Under the bonnet was the 5,2 litre V12 from the Countach. If that wasn’t enough you could opt for the L804, which was powered by the same engine fitted to Class 1 offshore powerboats, all 7,2 litres of V12 goodness. In seven years of production only 300 LM002s were sold, to customers like Colonel Gaddafi, Mike Tyson, Pablo Escobar and Sylvester Stallone.
Lawsuits, supercar hardware and celebrities would make for a great reality TV show but it didn’t do much for the Italian supercar manufacturer, in fact this project almost crippled the brand.
It turns out that it was simply a case of the right car at the wrong time. Fast forward 40 years and the SUV segments have exploded, the Cayenne for example saved Porsche from the brink of collapse and now accounts for a huge portion of the Porsche business.
The LM002 might be the spiritual successor of the Urus but the only thing that they share is the fact that both are ridiculously fast SUVs.
The market wants what the market wants, and in this day and age the market wants SUVs. Lamborghini, who is now part of the Volkswagen group had no choice but to enter this segment and they have done so in a typically Lamborghini way.
However being part of the Volkswagen group has its benefits and in their quest to build the most dynamic SUV possible, designers and engineers had free reign of the parts warehouse. And they chose the best bits from each brand.
A look underneath
The Urus is based on the MLB Evo platform, which it shares with Audi Q7, it uses a Porsche Cayenne engine and gearbox and a rear axle and suspension from a Bentley Bentayga. Inside the dashboard, screens and switchgear were borrowed from an Audi A8.
Throwing all these parts together can go one of two ways, it can be a horrible mess or they can come together to create the best car of its type. The Urus demonstrates the latter and more, engineers have made all these good quality parts work together and the addition of some Lamborghini sprinkles gives the car the character that these Italian supercars are known for. It is a true Lamborghini in terms of design, performance, driving dynamics and emotion. Best of all it is still capable of being driven everyday in a range of environments and therein lays the beauty.
Is it fast?
Under the bonnet is a 4.0 litre V8 twin-turbo engine delivering 478kW at 6000r/min and 850Nm from 2 250r/min. This is the first Lamborghini to make use of a turbocharged engine, which was necessary given the breadth of capability required of an SUV. Good torque at low revs is a necessity for battling traffic or off-road scenarios. Twin scroll turbochargers run in parallel to reduce turbo lag and smooth provision of power throughout the torque curve. Cylinder deactivation reduces fuel consumption for a perfect balance between vehicle performance and efficiency.
This power plant allows the Urus to accelerate from 0-100km/h in 3,6 seconds and 0-200 in 12,8 seconds on its way to a top speed of 305km/h. So yes, it is fast.
Transferring all this power to the road is an eight-speed automatic gearbox. This planetary gearbox has been tuned to provide shorter gear ratios in the lower gears and longer ratios in the higher gears. A slip controlled convertor lock up clutch and specially-developed torque convertor guarantee a highly responsive engine with exceptional acceleration from a standstill, low engine revs at high speeds and very efficient engine braking when required.
Models like the Aventador and Huracan are blindingly quick but they are not really suitable for everyday use. The Urus is easy to drive in traffic, very comfortable on the open road and when needed offers the dynamic performance akin to a super sports car.
While the initial idea was to build a car to fulfil an SUV niche a by-product of that is an extremely user-friendly Lamborghini, without giving up anything that makes a Lamborghini what it is.
A four-wheel-drive system delivers safe, highly-responsive driving dynamics on every road and surface and is paired to a Torsen central self-locking differential.
Some very large tyres endow it with phenomenal mechanical grip and allow the Urus to be pushed much further than any other SUV when the road gets twisty, without even a hint of tyre squeal.
The Urus also features active torque vectoring via a rear differential, which distributes power among the four wheels depending on driving mode, driving style and traction. In highway, off-road and snow modes it helps to reduce understeer while in Sport and Corsa modes it transfers the power in such a way so as give the Urus a greater oversteer character.
Rear-wheel steering effectively reduces the turning circle at slow speeds by angling the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front wheels. At high speed the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the front wheels, which has the same effect as lengthening the wheelbase by up to 600mm for increased stability and ride comfort.
The experience of driving the Urus is unlike any other SUV. Lamborghini have managed to make the vehicle so dynamically good that it really feels like you are driving a sports car. There is none of those typical top heavy, understeer tendencies that are often associated with fast cars that have real ground clearance.
Does it have any off-road ability?
The Tamburo driving mode selector is a collection of stylised levers and switches at the base of the centre console. These selectors control all dynamic vehicle systems and offer six drive modes that tailor the vehicle to the specific road surface and driver needs. Strada, Sport, Corsa and Neve (Snow) as well as the optional Terra (off-road) and Sabbia (sand). Furthermore there are three ride height options and three settings for the steering, powertrain and damping.
In Strada mode height adapts according to the speed to enhance comfort, in Sport the vehicle lowers for added stability at speed. In Corsa it is even more precise and performance orientated. In the three off-road modes higher ground clearance allows obstacles to be safely overcome. Our tape measure recorded 240mm of ground clearance upfront and 250mm at the rear, which is phenomenal for a vehicle with this kind of dynamic ability.
Depending on the driving mode selected via the Tamburo, the V8 engine has been calibrated to vary the sound and feel, from the quietest most comfortable low frequency sounds in Strada mode to a sportier more exciting Lamborghini soundtrack in Corsa mode.
The damping system incorporates new damper valves, continually adjusting to different driving conditions, harder when cornering and softer in a straight line. The adaptive damper concept is automatically adjusted via the different driving modes or can be fully customized via the EGO mode.
The vehicle that we tested was fitted with the optional off-road package that incorporates the Terra and Sabbia driving modes and also includes metal reinforced bumpers and additional underfloor protection.
Does it look like a Lamborghini?
The Urus is undoubtedly a Lamborghini, taking cues form the LM002 as well as the super sports cars that are fundamental to the heritage of this Italian brand.
Outstanding proportions are bolstered by adopting the two-thirds body, one-third-window ratio of Lamborghini sports cars. Short overhangs communicate strength, muscularity, dynamically assertive character and a commanding road position.
A distinctive single-line silhouette features a dynamic coupe-style fly line, accented by frameless doors and emphasising the typical Lamborghini characteristic of a lower front end. A powerful character line lips upwards around the rear glass windows, connecting the front and rear and emphasising the impression that it has been created from a single piece.
The hexagonal wheel arches at both the front and rear are a significant design detail from the LM002 and Countach, housing wheels from 21 to 23-inch.
What goes needs to slow
Stopping a 2 200kg car with these performance credentials is of utmost importance and the Urus has been equipped significantly in this department. Carbon Ceramic Brakes are standard, measuring 440mm x 40mm at the front and 370mm x 30mm at the rear. These are in fact the largest carbon-ceramic brakes to be fitted to a production vehicle to date. These huge discs are clamped by ten piston callipers, you read correctly, ten pistons. A range of tyres including all-terrain and sport tyres was specifically developed by Pirelli for this vehicle.
What is it like inside?
The Urus might be an extremely powerful SUV but it is still a very luxurious SUV. The Lamborghini principal that a car’s design, power and dynamic capabilities should make every driver feel like a pilot is perfectly embodied. In the centre console hidden behind a red finger guard is the starter button, which creates a sense of occasion whenever it is time to fire the Urus up. Despite the height of the vehicle, the driver and passengers sit low, giving the feeling that you are in the car as opposed to on top of it. Unlike Lamborghini super cars, the Urus is an extremely roomy vehicle that can comfortably carry five full-sized adults and the rear seat can even be folded flat to expand the boot size from 616 litres to 1596 litres.
Luxury Italian style and craftsmanship resonate throughout the interior, the cabin is finished with high quality materials including the finest leather, Alcantara, aluminium, carbon fibre and wood.
The hexagonal theme is continued inside on parts such as air vents, door handles, cup holders and air bag modules. A multi-function steering wheel allows for control of the information system, car set up, media, telephony and navigation.
The Lamborghini Infotainment system reflects its luxurious and daily usability, included as standard are two screens, perfectly integrated above the central Tamburo. The upper screen is the key interface for entertainment while the lower screen provides a keyboard and handwriting compatible screen as well as control of functions such as climate control and seat heating.
The idea of a Lamborghini SUV might seem utterly outrageous, but the right mix of parts and the perfect execution have resulted in a vehicle that does everything you expect it would and more.
Engine: Eight-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Displacement: 3 996cc
Power: 478kW @ 6 000r/min
Torque: 850Nm @ 2 250r/min
Transmission: Eight-speed Automatic
4WD system: All-wheel drive
Driving aids: PreCognition, Traffic management, top-view camera, trailer coupling mode, EGO driving modes, Active torque vectoring, Tamburo drive mode selector
Differential lock: Torsen self-locking centre differential
Tyre size: 285/40 R22 (front) 325/35 R22(rear)
Tyre brand: Pirelli P-Zero
Rim size: 22-inch
Suspension front: Multi-link
Suspension rear: Multi-link
Brakes front: 440mm Carbon ceramic discs
Brakes rear: 370mm Carbon ceramic discs
0-100km/h: 3.6 seconds
0-200km/h: 12.8 seconds
MEASUREMENTS AND CAPACITIES
Engine speed at 120km/h: 1800r/min
Average fuel consumption: 12,3 litres/100km (claimed)
Fuel tank capacity: 85 litres
Ground clearance, front: 240mm
Ground clearance, rear: 250mm
Weight: 2 200kg
Warranty: Three-year/100 000 km
Maintenance plan: Three-year/100 000km
Service interval: 15 000km or 1-year
Price: R3 495 000
TEXT: Reuben van Niekerk