Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: April 1, 2019
This isn’t your standard Lamborghini. While you may be used to dazzling Huracans and over-the-top Aventadors on bedroom walls and laptop wallpapers, the Urus diverges off the phylogenetic tree and into unchartered territory. It’s got four doors, two turbos, three off-road modes, a front-mounted engine, an actual trunk and liftgate, and decent ground clearance for all-weather usability. Doesn’t sound like a traditional Lamborghini, does it? Welcome to the new age where SUVs reign supreme, at least in the sales department. Don’t just take my word for it. There’s a reason why the Rolls-Royce Cullinan and Bentley Bentayga exist. Even Ferrari and Aston Martin are hopping on the bandwagon.
The Urus, named after an extinct breed of wild ox, is Lamborghini’s answer to a growing demand for SUVs and their do-it-all mentality. I know what you’re thinking. What’s next, a four-door Aventador? This Italian automaker once stood for fast, sexy, dramatic sports cars exuding pizzazz from every angle, and had angular sheetmetal sharp enough to injure bystanders that veer too close. They used to be the center of attention and overload a young boy’s daydreams with an object of desire. But the Urus is not that.
While it may catch your attention when parked next to domestic SUVs, the Urus clearly doesn’t have the same road presence as a Huracan. There are acute edges everywhere, more bends and curves than a Lexus RC F, and the rear quarters look eerily close to its more humble stablemates that lie on the same platform, the Audi Q8 and Porsche Cayenne Coupe. The short overhangs and raked back roofline also makes the Urus appear more like a spiky armadillo than a raging bull, and the understated Grigio Lynx paint on our test vehicle did well for camouflage.
We’ve had neighbours and friends think it was a Porsche (to the Urus’ defense, they also had no idea Lamborghini made an SUV) and is frankly a good paint colour if subtlety is your mojo. We also received less rubbernecking stares than my stint in an Audi R8 - they should have optioned the Urus with 23-inch wheels! Of note, Lamborghini doesn’t even offer anything smaller than 21s. And if you haven’t noticed, Y is the favourite letter of the Lamborghini design team. You’ll find the twenty-fifth letter referenced on everything from the taillights to the front air intakes. They also love hexagons.
Anyone who has spent time in an Audi Q8 might feel bamboozled when they get into the Urus. You get the same heart sinking feeling transitioning from a Dodge Charger to a Maserati Ghibli. Those pop-up Bang and Olufsen speakers on the dashboard are straight from an Audi. Same goes for the dual center displays and instrument cluster screen. Even the stitching on the steering wheel and the font used in some areas are sourced from the four-rings. Don’t even get us started on the window switches, lock button, and even the sound that is emitted when you lock the vehicle. Frankly, we could go on and on but you get the point. And truthfully, the Urus had to borrow from the parts bin to even make this a viable offering to the bean counters. Lamborghini couldn’t spend boatloads of money designing a bespoke motor and interior when they could simply scavenge and pillage. We would rather them spend that R&D money on their sports cars anyways.
Regardless, Lamborghini has added enough garnish and spice to make occupants forget about its humble beginnings. That red flip-up cover hiding the ignition button turns every start-up into an occasion, and those beautifully tanned leather seats wouldn’t look out of place on a Hermes handbag. They look and smell like they’re fresh out of a local Italian tannery. Even the barrier between the rear cabin and trunk, including the passthrough slot, is wrapped in quilted leather. In essence, the Urus is a spruced up Audi Q8 but keep in mind that the Q8 is already a phenomenal luxury SUV. To take it up to the elevens is no easy task and Lamborghini has achieved just enough to make its $300,000 price tag worth every penny. There’s a boatload of customization options too. Even though Lamborghini nickels and dimes everything Porsche-style (I mean come on, $3,668 for a sunroof?), we doubt it will bother those one-percenters.
In the Urus, you sit much higher up than any other Lamborghini in production, which takes some adjustment if you’re coming from a Huracan. That’s because you can actually see out of this thing. It’s like going on a diet and actually being able to see your feet. Available in both four- and five-seater configurations, there is a generous amount of rear cabin space for my six-foot figure despite its raked back roofline and raised wheel arches. We had no issues sitting back there for long periods of time either.
Every Lamborghini isn’t without its quirks. The display screens, like in the Audi, are difficult to use and there are no physical knobs or dials either. The screen requires a deep, intended, and accurate press for it to register your command as well, so if your finger misses by one centimetre because you’re busy looking at the road ahead, you’ll have to try again. This becomes cumbersome when adjusting the cabin temperature on the go, but luckily there are enough physical controls on the steering wheel to take care of your audio needs.
All the criticisms about the Urus being just a glorified Audi is quashed the moment you fire up the engine, even though it’s not your typical Lamborghini naturally aspirated V10 or V12. Instead, the Urus uses a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 borrowed from the Porsche Panamera Turbo, but re-tuned and injected with enough supercar DNA to make it somewhat unique and memorable. It also grants you, your occupants, and every bystander within a one-kilometer radius a goosebump-inducing exhaust note. You can hear this SUV coming from the next town. It’s louder than anything we’ve heard from AMG, BMW M, and even the Dodge Hellcats. For a V8, Lamborghini has found a way to tune their exhaust for maximum wow factor, and you can even opt for an Akrapovic exhaust straight from the factory. Have a listen to our Exhaust Notes video above to hear the Urus in all of its eight-cylinder glory.
Noise aside, this motor pushes out a remarkable 650 hp and 627 lb-ft. While that used to be the most powerful SUV output in the Volkswagen portfolio, that’s just been trumped by recent reports of Porsche’s new Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid model touted to make at least 670 hp. The reigning production SUV record still lies with the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, but that supercharged brute is a bit of a blunt hammer if you ask us, compared to the katana that is the Urus.
The Urus slices through the air like a hot knife on butter. Pedal to the metal, it flies forward like you’ve just stepped on its tail. Top speed is 305 km/h, and 0-100 km/h comes in 3.6 seconds, faster than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo (3.9 s) and the Bentley Bentayga Speed (3.9 s). Shame that it taps out at a disappointing 6.800 rpm, short of a Huracan Performante’s 8,500 rpm banshee wail. Be that as it may, the sheer force of acceleration and how the front end lifts up reminds us of the Range Rover Sport SVR, but that Brit is supercharged. Lamborghini achieving a similar kind of thrust with a turbocharged motor is nothing short of engineering excellence. Good thing then, that the standard carbon ceramic brakes are just as potent. Furthermore, the 8-speed automatic transmission fires off shifts with an AMG-like eagerness, jerking the car forward if playing aggressively. Though it is not as buttery smooth as a BMW’s ZF unit, the thunderclaps on upshifts keeps emotions running high.
Active roll stability control combined with active torque vectoring and four-wheel steering means the Urus turns well too, the latter of which effectively shortens its wheelbase when rotating. The result is an SUV that isn’t unwieldy when navigating around a crowded parking lot. There’s agility when you need it, and as with other Lamborghinis, there are many driving modes to choose from: Strada (street), Sport, Corsa (track), Terra (off-road), Sabbia (sand), and Neve (snow), because English is only for the plebians, and all of which are accessed through the toggle lever on the center console. On the right side, there is also an EGO mode where you can individualize each driving setting.
But stick the Urus into Strada mode and it transforms into a docile, friendly, and rather anonymous SUV. The exhaust hushes up, the air suspension relaxes and focuses on absorbing vibrations, and the engine and steering become as easy to operate as an Audi Q8. Take off the badges and everyone else will think so too. Add to that its double-glazed windows and sound insulation materials, and there’s no wonder why Lamborghini claims it’s more than usable as a daily driver. We have no quarrels here but if we were to truly nitpick, there is a bit of excessive wind noise around the B-pillar area that reaches the driver’s left ear. On another note, the Urus is actually the most fuel efficient Lamborghini we’ve ever driven, averaging 16.1 L/100km on a leisurely drive between highway and city streets. Fancy that.
Follow the family free and yes, the Urus does begin its life from humble beginnings, but keep in mind that those origins are already at the top of what most luxury buyers can attain. The Urus is for the super elite, the upper echelon of the 1%. It harnesses the best of the Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche portfolio and condenses it all into one excellent package with unique details like the firing order stamped on the engine cover, and the speedometer displayed on the rear entertainment screens. It’s also the first time we’ve ever seen puddle lights for the rear passenger doors. This was Lamborghini’s mission all along and despite all the criticism, the Urus is what the world wants and they have delivered exactly that.
While the Urus may not succeed in permeating our daydreams and pushing us to buy more lottery tickets, it has been one of the most exciting, enthralling, and emotionally charged SUVs we’ve ever driven, and trust us, we’ve driven a ton. It carries the versatility of a modest grocery getter, the adrenaline to satisfy the inner race car driver, and will undoubtedly fit into many prospective buyer’s lifestyles. While the young boy may not daydream about having a Urus in his future garage, the man he grows into when he can actually afford a Lamborghini surely would.
Model: 2019 Lamborghini Urus
Paint Type: Grigio Lynx
Base Price: $232,000
Price as Tested: $302,825
Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,112 / 2,016 / 1,638
Curb weight (kg): 2,200 kg (estimated)
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8
Horsepower: 650 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 627 lb-ft @ 2,250 - 4,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 16.1