I recently had the opportunity to make a childhood dream come true; a trip to Liverpool FC to attend a training session at the club's facilities, meet legendary player John Aldridge and go behind the scenes on a tour of Anfield. The ultimate football experience required the ultimate footballer's car, and there was only one choice...
But what exactly is a footballer's car? I don't know the etymology of the term, but to describe a vehicle as such is unquestionably to insult it; to imply a gauche lack of taste, an absence of class or a lack of originality. The first car I remember it being routinely applied to was the Bentley Continental GT, then the Range Rover Sport and subsequently an entire slew of perfectly competent vehicles dubbed too 'new money' to be approved of by those passing judgement.
The latest machine to find itself labelled as a 'footballer's car' is this: the Lamborghini Urus. It's visually striking - although not exactly beautiful; it's exclusive, with a price tag of £165,000; and its 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 puts out 650hp and 626lb ft, so it's fast. But true enthusiasts know that it's basically an Audi in drag, so only a poser would buy it. Except that's not quite the case...
As noted when driving the car in the dunes of Dubai, if Lamborghini's primary calling cards are drama and extreme performance, rather than the driving purity of Ferrari or clinical ability of McLaren, then the Urus is more than capable of remaining true to that ethos. With the right modes activated and buttons pressed, the Urus is capable of a remarkable turn of pace, 0-62 coming up in just 3.6 seconds. Not only that, but it possesses the agility to match; no, not supercar sharpness or genuine track prowess - of course not - but easily enough dynamism and poise to make light work of a B-road, and cover ground at a rate which would likely surprise many of its doubters.
When driven day-to-day, though, on the kind of mundane journeys and roads which occur more often than not, it just isn't capable of maintaining that same exciting aura, regularly slipping into the background and becoming just another comfortable, semi-practical SUV. While the powertrain is perfectly capable of thrilling in its upper reaches, and the chassis is more than happy at speed, once things calm down the Urus loses any hint of the performance lurking beneath. In fact, with the car left in its most accommodating of settings, even the pops and crackles of the exhaust diminish to the extent that it's entirely possible to forget you're in a Lamborghini at all.
To some people that'll be precisely the point; to others, it'll be heretical. If you're buying a marque's most liveable car then of course it ought to offer the widest possible bandwidth of performance options, right down to simply getting you from A to B with the minimum of fuss. But others will argue that if it's a Lamborghini you're signing up for, then you surely expect a certain level of consistent shock and awe, even if it comes at the cost of slightly compromised comfort or convenience.
Neither opinion is right or wrong, really, and I still can't quite decide which side I come down on. I think I'd probably prefer the latter to be honest, especially when it comes to the interior, which is thoroughly ergonomic and entirely usable but - having only recently handed back the keys to a Huracan Evo - appears more like a Q7 with some contrived Lambo styling cues thrown in than an authentic product of Sant'Agata. I'd rather have to spend a second fumbling for the non-existent indicator stalk, only to remember it's been replaced by a switch on the wheel to free up room for the massive shift paddles - that sort of thing. Because Lamborghini, right?
Outside the situation is much the same. The Urus is hardly a looker at the best of times, but its appearance could be vastly improved by focussing less on the function and a little more on the form. Case in point being those rear door handles - they need sorting out. Get rid of them entirely, replace them with a button inside the car, move them to the C-pillar Suzuki Swift-style; anything less practical but more beautiful would do.
So the Urus isn't just all skin fades and sleeve tattoos, then, it is a thoroughly capable and at times genuinely thrilling prospect. But while its mercurial talent can be beguiling at times, it comes to the fore frustratingly seldom. It's Adriano to the Huracan's Ronaldinho - to use an analogy that's 15 years out of date. One's a little too heavy for its own good, yet still capable of flashes of brilliance, while the other seems to exist purely for the joy of the game, full of flair even if it's not always called for. That's the spirit that sets a true Lamborghini apart from the rest, and it's one that's sadly not quite there in the car which now accounts for nearly 50 per cent of the brand's sales.