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Lamborghini Urus: Driven

Outsized, overpowering and over here - we drive Lamborghini's wannabe SUV in the UK

By Nic Cackett / Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Urus certainly gets a reaction - and we're not just talking about the 280 comments left on the first drive. "It's sh*t," pronounces Luc Lacey, PistonHeads' occasional snapper, fresh from the driver's seat. Two hours later though, parked up on a residential road, people - lots of them - cross the street to get a picture. Divisiveness isn't exactly unusual in big-ticket SUVs, but, as with practically everything else about it, the newest Lamborghini takes it to the nth degree. Yet for all the accompanying fuss, it isn't really a love/hate car at all; objectively speaking, and on the basis of half a day spent driving around Surrey, the Urus doesn't belong to its detractors or its admirers. It's halfway great. Though not necessarily the half that wants desperately to be a proper Lamborghini.

Such a distinction is unlikely to matter beyond PH's drum circle. Most people will regard the question of its underlying identity as virtually moot. It's been badged a Lamborghini by the people with the right to do so, therefore it is one. And certainly from many if not most standpoints, it conforms to type - being vaguely striking to look at (by the standards of the class), silly to listen to and, for its size and weight, monumentally fast. It is also, for the want of a better phrase, always 'on it'. Uniquely for an SUV, 'D' cannot be selected from the gear lever, only a paddle - which says much of what you need to know about the way the car has been set up. Even in 'Strada' the Urus feels pretty aggressively damped, and (for an SUV) is extremely alert to direction changes. It is by some distance the most restive car to sit on VW's MLBevo platform, and - equipped with 22-inch wheels - makes for a slightly edgy experience on UK roads.

But the pay-off is obvious enough. As Prior discovered abroad, the Urus is seriously limber. When it came to handing out the parameters for the 48v-anti-roll bars and air springs, the Lamborghini contingent must've been gesturing like crazy at the VW Group meeting, because they clearly have access to the system's outer limits. In 'Sport' mode - a halfway house so fercious that selecting it immediately drops the gear ratios from 7th to 4th - the car barely succumbs to roll at all, and hides its considerable mass at least as well as a Porsche Cayenne. Presented with a clear (and wide) road, it would be hard for even the staunchest anti-SUV campaigner not to cock an eyebrow in appreciation at the way it barrels through sighted corners like a Baja 1000 racer remade for a tarmac rally stage.

As you might expect, the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 is a more than willing participant in all this. It too feels tweaked well beyond even its normal silliness, emitting all manner of look-at-me fireworks - from mid-range symposer-based bawl to pops and bangs and blather on the overrun - all of it alongside that preposterous 650hp/626 lb ft output. It is no less responsive than the chassis, and does so good a job of firing the Urus up the road that even the car's self-made label of Super Sport Utility Vehicle feels credible. From a standing start, it is downright ferocious - and it repeats the trick away from corners, too, thanks to the ever-zealous downshifting of the gearbox in 'Sport' and the presence of a torque-vectoring differential on the rear axle. 'Corsa' is even more extreme.

Containing this level of acceleration, while remaining nonchalant about the competing laws of physics, is the Urus's familiar selling point. Given the V8's positioning over the nose, the incisiveness of the business end is truly impressive - as are the standard carbon-ceramic brakes - and no-one should expect to easily encounter the limit of its enormous Pirelli P Zero tyres on a dry road surface. But to what end this uncanny ability? There is shock and awe, sure, built from the stupendous speed at which things can be made to happen, but for all the engineering prowess contained within, Lamborghini has contrived no significantly better way of immersing the driver in the wider SUV experience.

As with its MLBevo stablemates, the Urus majors in head-shaking bemusement and chest-compressing performance - yet no matter how fast the steering or shrewd the response, honest-to-goodness exuberance seems in short supply. Pushing on in the Urus is not unlike watching an enormous CGI battle scene; all the right components have been expensively assembled for your enjoyment, but then it all happens too fluently and fiercely for its own good and you find yourself thinking about cheese nachos. All too often, the car doesn't feel as rewarding to drive as the slower, sloppier, grittier Range Rover Sport SVR. And, anyway you cut it, that's a nuisance when you're wearing a Lamborghini badge.

Still, it doesn't suddenly make it half bad. This is easily the firm's most usable and accessible car. It has five doors, five seats, a large boot and possibly the best finished interior Lamborghini has ever produced. Despite the off fidget, it is easy to rub along in and effortless to drive fast. A return trip to the continent holds no fear for the Urus driver - and we can hardly think of a better way to commute to a Kuwaiti oil well. But a Sunday morning spin for the sake of it? No, not on your nelly. In six hours, PH was shaken, stirred and then entirely ready to hand it back. And a Lamborghini - even a so-so one - is like a vestigial tail; something memorable and solid ought to stay with you. Something like a naturally-aspirated V10, perhaps? Probably. It would have made the model no quicker, certainly - but louder and truer, and earthier. As it is, the Urus is probably the fastest and most formidable luxury SUV ever made. But no more than that.


Engine: 3,996cc V8, twin-turbo petrol
Power (hp): 650@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 626@2,250-4,000rpm
0-62mph: 3.6 seconds
Top speed: 190mph
Weight: 2,197kg
MPG: 23
CO2: 279g/km
Price: £164,950

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