No bull: we road test the Lamborghini Urus super SUV

Liz Dobson
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Photos / Dave Kavermann


There are the naysayers who poo-pooed the idea of a Lamborghini SUV, but here’s a message for those people: get over it, because the Urus is here to stay and there are plenty of new Kiwi customers who agree.

The Urus is on sale now in New Zealand from $339,000 plus options with the local distributor (happily) surprised at the uptake by Kiwis.

The name comes from the Urus, the ancestor of modern domestic cattle (that’s no bull) and has the marketing tagline of “Since we made it possible”. So how did Lamborghini make the Urus possible?

The Lamborghini Urus concept was unveiled at the 2012 Beijing motor show, before another reveal at Pebble Beach that year.

The Urus is the world’s first Super Sports Utility Vehicle, taking exterior design cues from the Aventador but with the practicality of such competitors as the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, Bentley Bentayga, and Rolls-Royce Cullinan (see p21).

Those competitors are also part of the VW Group family that Lamborghini sits under, so there is shared DNA.

It sits on the same platform as the Audi Q7, Bentayga, Cayenne and VW Touareg, and uses the same engine as the Cayenne Turbo, with a lot of adjustment from the Lamborghini engineers.

Former Porsche designer and the man behind the Macan, Mitja Borkert, joined Lamborghini to tweak the concept and turn it into reality. Borkert has done an amazing job on making the exterior look like an Aventador, thanks to the huge honeycomb grille, the mid-body rear spoiler and four sports exhausts.

The only let-down has been the use of the Bentayga’s door handles rather than inset ones. That’s something for Borkert to work on for the facelift.

The Urus’ 4-litre twin-turbo V8 tweaked engine produces 478kW of power and 850Nm of torque — that’s improvements of 59kW and 50Nm over the 419kW/800Nm Cayenne Turbo S. The Italian also beats the German in the 0-100km/h sprint with the Urus winning at 3.7 seconds over the Porsche’s 4.1 seconds.

It blasts the Cayenne Turbo S for top speeds, hitting 306km/h and the Porsche 284km/h — not that that is anything to sneeze at.

Lamborghini has worked on reducing drag on the SSUV, but the performance comes at a cost, with fuel consumption of 12.7 litres/100km instead of Porsche’s 11.5 litres. Lamborghini also nicked Porsche’s permanent four-wheel-drive, eight-speed automatic powertrain.

The all-wheel drive system splits power delivery 40/60 front to rear and sends a maximum of 70 per cent to the front or 86 per cent to the rear axle in pre-programmed drive modes.

The Urus also has the rear-wheel steering system introduced in the Aventador S to navigate tight spaces.

It features rear-wheel steering and an air suspension system that can provide a maximum of 250mm of ground clearance for off-road use.

Wheel options range from 21in to 23in and it’s fitted with specially developed Pirelli P Zero tyres.

For those looking for a premium off-road experience this is a drive package that includes sand, mud and snow. That package is part of Lamborghini’s Adaptive Network Intelligent MAnagement (ANIMA) technology, which allows you to adapt to your driving needs. There’s the standard strada, sport for the motorway and my favourite, the corsa, that gives you track-like driving.

Lamborghini says it has developed the world's largest set of carbon ceramic brakes for the Urus, with 440mm rotors in the front and 370mm in the rear, using 10-piston calipers at the front and six-piston calipers at the rear.

Lamborghini has expanded its factory in Sant'Agata Bolognese, Italy to produce the Urus, making it the brand's first SUV since the LM002. Production began in February 2018 and Lamborghini plans to build 1000 units this year, and 3500 next year.

When I interviewed, Lamborghini chairman and CEO Stefano Domenicali last year, I suggested the Italian company would underestimate the worldwide demand for the Urus. He assured me everything was under control and they’d have enough, but I have to say, “Stefano, Stefano, I told you people would love it”!

Lamborghini reckons nearly 70 per cent of Urus buyers will be new to the brand, so who is the customer? There is a variety: from existing Lamborghini owners to drivers of a premium SUV who want something even more luxurious. One potential buyer I met this week in Auckland owned an exotic sports coupe and an expensive SUV but wanted to combine the two. Voila, here you go with the Urus.

Inside the cabin, there is a nice combination of Lamborghini, including the start/stop button button hidden beneath the usual flip-up fighter jet cover. I love that touch.

The rest of the console and dash includes the best from the VW Group but remains true to the Lamborghini name with all the functions you need on the steering wheel.

The cabin is user-friendly with lots of head and leg room and there’s a cavernous boot.

So, what is it like to drive? I had the car overnight and did obligatory circuits with colleagues and family, including my 13-year-old nephew and Lamborghini fan, Jesse.

The Urus was sure-footed on the motorway, and despite my best efforts for it to be raucous in the St Marys Bay tunnel, it only showed its wild side when entering the on-ramp when my foot went flat on the floor.

The Urus hunkers down at speed and you have the assurance of those huge brakes on busy motorways, but the best drive was along Scenic Drive, Waitākere heading against the traffic from Swanson to Titirangi. It was a clear run and the winding, tight road was ideal for the Urus.

Flicking into sport mode in the 100km/h areas, I delighted in the way the Urus effortlessly navigated the tighter and twisting corners, sitting at lower end of the rpms. On the flat, it blurped into a more powerful performance, revealing the “sports” of the SSUV title.

Heading back to my house, a neighbour driving past me nearly crashed his car as he did a triple head turn.

Yes, I wanted to say to him, this is THE Lamborghini SUV.

2018 Lamborghini Urus

Price: $339,000
Engine: 4-litre twin-turbo V8 (478kW/850Nm)
Pros: Great combination of SUV, sports car
Cons: Those door handles


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