After more than five years of hinting and teasing, Lamborghini has officially joined the SUV party. Following in the wheeltracks of sports and premium brands like Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Bentley, the Italian supercar brand released their SUV – the ‘Urus’ - in December.
According to Lamborghini, the Urus is more than a Sport Utility Vehicle, it’s the world’s first “Super Sport Utility Vehicle” thanks to a twin-turbo V8 engine that delivers a 0-100km/h acceleration time of 3.6 seconds and a 305km/h top speed - the fastest top speed of any production SUV currently available.
Like almost all recent Lamborghinis, the Urus takes its name from the world of bulls and bullfighting. In this instance, Urus is derived from the ‘auroch’, which were the wild ancestors of modern domestic cattle. According to Lamborghini, the fighting bulls of Spain are still closely related to the ancient urus bulls in appearance.
Firsts, but not the First
For all the hype surrounding the Urus as Lamborghini’s debut in the SUV market, it should be noted that it technically isn’t their first SUV. That honour goes to the LM002, which started as the ‘Cheetah’ military vehicle project back in the late 1970s and evolved through the LM001 and LMA prototypes before being released as the LM002, a civilian production model, in 1986.
Closer to a dual cab ute in appearance than a wagon-style SUV, the LM002 featured a V12 petrol engine, four-wheel drive and three self-locking diffs, all covered in a chunky fibreglass and aluminium body.
The LM002’s off-road capabilities were impressive, and the interior was well-appointed for the period, with leather seats and power assistance for just about everything. But a high price and poor fuel economy, even by 1980s standards, made the LM002 more of a plaything for the extremely wealthy – mainly middle eastern oil sheikhs – and it was never taken too seriously.
The Urus is an entirely different proposition and Lamborghini are very serious about both the vehicle and its chances in the modern market. An expansion of the Sant’Agata Bolognese production facilities and Lamborghini’s dealer network have been undertaken in anticipation that the SUV will double annual output to around 7,000 vehicles in the near future.
“The Lamborghini Urus is a visionary approach based on the infusion of Lamborghini DNA into the most versatile vehicle, the SUV,” says Stefano Domenicali, Automobili Lamborghini Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “It is a true Lamborghini in terms of design, performance, driving dynamics and emotion, as well as [being] drivable every day in a range of environments.
“The Urus is the culmination of intensive development and passionate skill to create a new breed of bull: a Super SUV that transcends the boundaries of expectations and opens the door to new possibilities, for both our brand and our customers.”
While the “first Super SUV” tag for the Urus is somewhat hyperbolic, other firsts claimed by the new arrival are undeniable. The Urus is the company’s first four-door since the aforementioned LM002 and also the first to use a front-mounted engine since the same model.
The Urus is also Lamborghini’s first five-seater, while a more modern first is the use of an electromechanical active roll stabilisation system.
Finally - and surprisingly, given the company’s history of performance - the Urus is the first ever production Lamborghini to use a turbocharged engine: until now, all Lambo engines have been naturally aspirated.
Power of Eight
That engine is a twin-turbo V8 of 4.0-litre capacity, which breaks with the current Lamborghini tradition of V10 and V12 engines.
Lamborghini say they went with a turbo V8 because it delivers the sort of low-rev torque required in an off-roader. A more practical reason is that the existing Lamborghini engines won’t fit the ‘MLB Evo’ platform that the Urus is built on; the same platform that’s the basis for Bentley’s Bentayga, the Porsche Cayenne and Audi’s Q7 SUV.
The V8 produces maximum power of 478kW at 6000rpm and max torque of 850Nm between 2250 and 4500rpm. In a vehicle weighing almost 2200kg, that translates to a weight-to-power ratio of around 0.13kW/kg, which Lamborghini are claiming as the best in its class.
In addition to the previously mentioned 0-100km’h sprint time and top speed, the Urus bolts from 0-200km/h in 12.8 seconds and can decelerate from 100-0km/h in 33.7 metres thanks to jumbo-sized carbon ceramic brake discs; 440mm diameter on the front wheels and 370mm diameter on the rears.
Exhaust flow, through two separate sections, is claimed to complement the firing sequence of the double overhead camshaft engine, which also features cylinder deactivation to improve overall fuel economy to a claimed 12.7lt/100km: hefty by most definitions, but reasonable in supercar terms, as well as being the most fuel-efficient V8 that Lamborghini has ever offered.
The engine sits low in the chassis to improve the Urus’s centre of gravity, while the centrally-mounted twin-scroll turbochargers keep the engine dimensions compact and also claim to deliver optimum engine responsiveness. Additionally, the parallel placement of the turbos is said to minimise turbo lag.
Mated to the engine is an 8-speed automatic transmission that’s electro-hydraulically controlled and tuned to provide short low gear and long high gear ratios. A specially-developed slip-controlled torque converter works with the engine for what’s claimed to be “exciting acceleration”, high speed at low revs and efficient gear braking.
Drive and Steer
While power and on-road handling are a given for any car bearing the Lamborghini badge, the ability to scramble over rough terrain isn’t.
Despite appearances to the contrary, Lamborghini boldly claim that the Urus delivers highly-responsive driving dynamics on “every road and surface”, as well as in any weather.
The four-wheel drive that defines an SUV is, in this instance, delivered via a Torsen self-locking central diff that is said to be particularly suited for off-road use.
Standard torque split is 40/60 front/rear, but up to 70 per cent of torque can go to the front axle, or up to 87 per cent to the rear to deliver the best traction as required. Allied to this is torque vectoring on the rear axle that can vary power delivery to individual wheels for improved grip.
There’s also a rear wheel steering function – lifted from Lamborghini’s Aventador S – that can alter the rear wheel angle by plus or minus 3 degrees. In low-speed applications, this can reduce the vehicle’s 3003mm wheelbase by up to 600m to make for easier negotiation of tight turns when the rear wheels are angled counter to the direction of the front wheels (counter-phase steering). When the rears are at a similar angle to the fronts (in-phase steering), the result is improved stability at higher speeds. While the RWS would have limited applications off-road, there are clear benefits for tarmac driving, in terms of reduced understeer and oversteer.
There are six driving modes available, with Strada (road), Sport and Corsa (track) options already familiar from Lamborghini’s existing supercar models. There’s also Neve (snow) and two optional modes - Terra (off-road) and Sabbia (sand) – which are debuting on the Urus. Choose to have the Terra and Sabbia modes fitted and you also get reinforced bumpers and additional underbody protection.
In each mode, the torque vectoring, ESC, throttle and transmission response, ride height and RWS are altered to deliver the best possible traction and handling. Each driving mode is selected via controls alongside the centre console’s ‘Tamburo’ (‘drum’ in Italian) driving dynamics controller.
Adaptive air suspension makes for easy ride height adjustment, from 158mm to 248mm, which on the road, sees the suspension stiffened for a firmer ride when cornering and softened for a more relaxed ride in a straight line. Adjustments to the damper valves are made automatically to suit surface and driving conditions, but can be individually adjusted – via an ‘EGO’ mode – to suit the driver’s preference. EGO settings, along with seat position and infotainment settings, can also be set and stored in the vehicle’s memory function.
Finally, the active roll stabilisation system debuting on the Urus is aimed at off-road use and is said to reduce body roll on broken surfaces and during cornering by actively decoupling each half of the stabiliser bars without affecting drive or steering performance.
At 5112mm long and 2016mm wide, the Urus isn’t all that different from Lamborghini’s Huracan or Aventador, but comparing heights shows the disparity to the existing range. The Urus’s 1638mm height is 473mm above that of the Huracan coupe (1165mm) and a full 502mm higher than an Aventador S coupe (1136mm).
Being so “tall”, it makes it hard to translate Lamborghini’s existing design language. Signature hexagonal details are there, most notably in the grille and the wheelarches, and there’s Lamborghini’s two-thirds body, one-third window ratio, too, but the rest of the Urus doesn’t specifically resemble either model in the current range.
Lamborghini claims the bulging bonnet was influenced by both their modern Aventador and classic Miura, while diagonal crease lines on the bonnet are said to be inspired by the Countach. These are all hard to see, as are the claims of LM002 influences in the design and a high degree of aerodynamic efficiency.
So far, opinion has varied on how good a job Lamborghini’s in-house designers have done, but the Urus does have undeniable presence, with minimal front and rear overhangs, an aggressive look to the front end, as well as numerous sharper angles on the lower part of the aluminium composite body, but these are at odds with the gentler curves of the upper body and roofline.
There are familiar Y-shaped LEDs in the head and tail lights, wheel sizes varying from 21- to 23-inch and a range of Pirelli tyres that were specially developed for this model. Other details include a glass-on-glass treatment to mask the C-pillar, subtle roof spoiler and a rear diffuser that’s said to be racecar inspired.
In addition to being powerful, Lamborghini says the Urus is also luxurious, with abundant space for both front and rear seat passengers. That’s hard to judge from the images presented so far, but there appear to be fewer compromises in terms of comfort than in other Lamborghini vehicles.
In terms of style, the dash continues the Y-shaped and hexagonal themes of the exterior detailing on things like the centre console, air vents, cupholders, door handles and headrests.
The broad centre console is said to be reminiscent of the LM002, but other elements are from the modern Lamborghini canon, including front seats lifted directly from the Huracan.
Those front seats get heating and ‘DNA memory’ 12-way adjustment, with 18-way adjustability optional. A rear bench is standard, but two individual bucket seats can be fitted instead.
With the rear bench in place, boot space is listed at 616 litres, increasing to 1596 litres when folded. Both the doors and tailgate can be opened via sensor panels on the bodywork, while the power tailgate can be optioned up to motion activated opening.
Fine leather is the standard seat upholstery, in either black or dark grey, with Piano Black and brushed aluminium trim on the dash, but a number of other colours and materials for things like the carpets and seat belts, as well as the seats, dash and door trims, are optional.
The multifunction steering wheel allows easy driver control of the third generation LIS (Lamborghini Infotainment System) and other in-car functions, while a vibration damper in the wheel itself is said to reduce driver fatigue.
Ahead of the driver is a full TFT digital instrument display that can be customised to individual preferences.
Controls for the LIS are split across two touchscreens on the centre console: the upper handling navigation, phone, media and vehicle features; while the lower features a keyboard and is handwriting-compatible for more specific personalisation of features like the climate controlled air conditioning.
The standard sound system is an eight-speaker arrangement, but this can be optioned up to a premium Bang & Olufsen unit with 21 speakers.
Surprisingly, given the Urus’s elite status and six-figure price tag, features like a Head Up display, DAB digital radio, smartphone interface and rear seat entertainment system are optional.
Also optional are some advanced safety features, like a 360-degree camera, traffic management systems and a trailer assist function. Lamborghini are vague on the standard safety tech, but say it is comprehensive and includes a collision mitigation system.
Following its unveiling in Italy in December, the Urus is due to go on sale in most markets - including Australia - shortly. Local deliveries will start in Q2, priced from $390,000 (excl. ORCs).
Lamborghini Urus – basic specs
Body: Lightweight aluminium composite monocoque (VW MLB platform)
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8
Max Power: 478kW @ 6000rpm
Max Torque: 850Nm @ 2250-4500rpm
0-100km/h: 3.6 seconds
Top Speed: 305km/h
Fuel capacity: 85 litres
Economy: 12.7lt/100km (combined cycle)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: Permanent 4WD w/Torsen centre differential and rear-wheel steering
Suspension: Multi-link front and rear w/adaptive air dampers
Wheels: 21-inch alloys (23-inch optional)
Brakes: Carbon ceramic discs (440mm Fr, 370mm Rr), 10-piston Fr calipers, 6-piston Rr calipers
Dimensions: 5112mm x 2016mm x 1638mm (LxWxH)
Ground Clearance: 158mm – 248mm
Weight: ‘Under’ 2200kg
Max Cargo Capacity: 1596 litres
Words: Mike Ryan
Photos: Lamborghini Media