What is it?
A car that would have been impossible to imagine a decade ago. While Lamborghini started life building tractors and built the Hummer-like LM002 in the 1980s, the idea of a high-riding, high-performance crossover from the modern-day version of the brand seems unlikely – until it wasn't.
The automotive world has become so SUV-obsessed that even brands with such a razor-sharp focus as Lamborghini couldn't ignore that lucrative market any longer. First unveiled as a concept back in 2012, it took until 2018 for the Urus to hit production but it made a statement as soon as it did.
Unlike the LM002 that was aimed at military use, the Urus is all about performance. While it has off-road capability, the reality is this is the ultimate status-symbol SUV; thanks to its edgy styling and Rampaging Bull badge. Our test car took it to the next level with its unmissable ‘Verde Mantis' paint job.
But Lamborghini has a reputation for building fast cars to maintain, so the Urus can't just look good. Especially as it has so many rivals these days, the likes of the Porsche Cayenne Coupe, BMW X6 M, Bentley Bentayga, Maserati Levante, Aston Martin DBX and the upcoming Ferrari Purosangue.
Does it have any racing pedigree?
The company reportedly flirted with a Dakar Rally entry with the LM002 but so far there's been no similar interest in taking the Urus racing; Lamborghini has limited all recent racing activity to the Huracan – specifically in GT3 competition.
But Lamborghini did promote the performance credentials of the Urus recently, establishing a string of speed records for driving on ice. Russian Andrey Leontyev hit 298km/h on the frozen Lake Baikal back in March, that's only 7km/h shy of the Urus' top speed on tarmac.
What's under the bonnet?
Under the surface there's a lot the Urus has in common with other members of the Volkswagen Group, specifically the Cayenne, Bentayga and Audi RSQ8. The German giant shares a lot of unseen hardware between the models to save development costs, but does mean it runs the risk of diluting the driving experience between brands.
Fortunately, Lamborghini insists on doing as much as possible of its work to ensure its cars have their own character (see the Huracan and Audi R8 for proof). Aside from the exterior design the Lamborghini has a more dynamic presence on road, even compared to the Porsche Cayenne. While it's not high-strung, it's serious about performance and always feels ready to unleash a burst of speed whenever you need it.
It runs the same 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 you'll find in the Cayenne, tuned to make a neck-snapping 478kW of power and 850Nm of torque. It sends that grunt to all four-wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Despite being a large, five-seat SUV, Lamborghini claims the Urus runs 0-100km/h in a sports car-like 3.6 seconds and 0-200km/h comes in just 12.8 seconds. While we didn't get a chance to run our own times, it feels every bit that fast. Squeeze the throttle and the Urus launches forward with ferocity, as the power pours out of the V8 seemingly without end.
It does come at a cost though, with fuel economy that will make you want to buy shares in your local Ampol – 12.7-litres per 100km on the combined cycle, but you can reasonably expect to see the wrong side of 20L/100km around town or when driven hard. Having said that, if you're worrying about fuel use you probably shouldn't be looking at a twin-turbo V8 Lambo.
How does it handle?
This is where Lamborghini really had to pull out all the stops to ensure the Urus stood apart from the likes of the Cayenne, Levante and DBX. To that end the Italian company has loaded it up with technology to ensure it handles well enough to earn the Lambo badge, including all-wheel drive with active torque vectoring and rear-wheel steering as well as standard carbon ceramic brakes, adaptive air suspension and active roll stabilization.
The net result of all those elements is an SUV that handles remarkably well, more like a sports sedan rather than a high-riding crossover. The various systems combine seamlessly, allowing you to push the Urus harder through corners than you would think possible.
The active torque vectoring and four-wheel steering help the Urus rotate through the corner, endowing the big machine with agility few of its rivals can truly match. The adaptive dampers and active roll stabilization add to the feeling of confidence when cornering by controlling the ride and keeping the Urus flat even when leaned on.
The ride is naturally firmer than you expect from an SUV (but if you're after luxury buy a Bentley Bentayga or Range Rover) but still far from uncomfortable even on the optional 23-inch alloys our test car was rolling on (21-inch alloys are standard).
One of the most impressive aspects of the Urus is its stopping power, but when you look at the specs that shouldn't be a surprise. Not only are carbon ceramic brakes standard, they are the largest brakes on any production car; the front rotors measure 440mm and are clamped by 10-piston calipers, while the rears are 370mm with single-piston calipers. To put that another way, the front rotors are 17-inches – that's as big as some other car's wheels. Lamborghini claims the Urus can decelerate from 100-0km/h in just 33.7m
Where would you most like to drive it?
The obvious answer is a racetrack like Phillip Island. After all, Lamborghini calls it a Super SUV and the Audi RSQ8 impressed when we drove it at The Island early this year, but… where I'd really love to sample the Urus is off-road. After all it is an SUV and that means it must have some off-road capability despite Lamborghini's on-road heritage.
The company does offer an ‘Off-Road Package' that adds steel bumpers and adds more driving modes – Terra (land) and Sabbia (sand). I mean, who wouldn't want to take a Lamborghini through dirt, mud and sand dunes?
What's the interior like?
Design is a hallmark of Lamborghini and the Urus is a perfect example of why it's so important. While it does utilise elements of other VW Group models – in this case the Audi RSQ8 – the company's design makes it its own. Under the surface there may be some commonality, everything you see and touch is pure Lamborghini. The attention-to-detail is exceptional, with Lamborghini's trademark angular design language throughout the interior. Even the graphics on the digital dashboard and twin infotainment screens are unique to the Urus.
But the highlight has to be the ignition switch, which like the Aventador and Huracan is underneath a fighter jet-style cover. It probably will get a little tiresome after a while, but I wouldn't have it any other way because it adds a sense of drama and occasion to the driving experience in a way only Lamborghini can.
Is it good value for money?
It will come as no shock that the Urus is an expensive SUV, priced at $395,888 (plus on-road costs). That puts it above its rivals, and by some margin – the Aston Martin DBX is priced from $357,000; the Porsche Cayenne Coupe Turbo from $262,300; Maserati Levante Trofeo from $336,990; Audi RSQ8 from $208,500; and Bentley Bentayga V8 from $340,400.
And that's before you start customising your Urus to suit your personal taste, because that runs up the tally in a hurry. The options on our vehicle totalled an eye-watering $101,915 – even by the affluent standards of your typical Lamborghini buyer that's a lot of extra money to spend to get your ideal Urus. To be blunt, some of the optional extras should be standard on a car costing nearly $400k, namely DAB digital radio (a hefty $1414) and a hands-free tailgate (another $1591); both items that come standard on many SUVs costing less than $100k.
The big ticket options are the pearl green paint costs a whopping $17,144, you'll spend $11,665 for the Bang & Olufsen Advance 3D sound system and the shiny black 23-inch alloys add $9898.
But being extravagant and unrestrained is what the Urus is about, not penny-pinching, so for buyers the premium price is obviously worth paying.
Would I buy one?
If I had a spare $500k I'd certainly love to have an Urus in the garage. It's expensive and over-the-top but what else would expect from a Lamborghini SUV. In an era of high-performance SUVs the Italian brand needed to do something special to stand out from the crowd. With the Urus that succeeded spectacularly.
This isn't the SUV for everyone, those you prefer to be understated on the road won't appreciate its head-turning style and that's where the more restrained Audi RSQ8 plays. For those who want a more luxurious premium SUV they should look at the Bentley Bentayga. While the Porsche Cayenne is a more balanced SUV, blending everyday useability with dynamic capability.
But if what you want is unadulterated performance in a dramatic package – the Urus is utterly brilliant.
2021 Lamborghini Urus price and specifications
|From $395,888 plus on-road costs
|4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo petrol
|478kW at 6000rpm
|850Nm at 2250-4500rpm
|Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
|21-inch alloys (standard)
|285/45 ZR21 (front), 315/40 ZR21 (rear)