Is The Lamborghini Urus The Fastest SUV?
November 15, 2018 | BY Andre Lam
From compact to large, modest to luxurious, sport utility vehicles have evolved into an entire ecosystem of their own. In 2017, Lamborghini added another facet to the market with the fastest SUV of them all—the Urus. Andre Lam heads to Rome to discover its power
For the better part of the last two decades, Lamborghini has been planning to create a four-door sports saloon to complement its supercar range, which comprised of the Aventador and Huracán coupes. It even developed a concept car called Estoque, but it was put into cold storage when the sport utility vehicle (SUV) bug started spreading across the automotive world like wildfire. The Italian marque, however, wasn’t entirely new to the SUV game—it had developed a prototype for military use in the late 1970s and later, the road-ready LM002 in 1986—and was thus more partial to entering the burgeoning car segment. With that, the Urus was born.
As Lamborghini’s designers would realise, morphing the sleek shape of the marque’s supercars into a bulkier SUV was a monumental task. They took cues from the military look of the LM002, such as its hexagonal wheel arches, and worked on creating a dynamic angular design that would ensure low aerodynamic drag and reduce aerodynamic lift. The result is a fierce and deceptively compact-looking five-seater SUV that is one of the biggest in the market.
The Urus’ interior comes across as the luxurious version of an aircraft cockpit. Like its supercar siblings, the car’s push start button and toggle switches on its central console give the impression that an aircraft designer might have had a say on how it would look. In fact, the aeronautical look very much suits the Urus, which boasts a top speed of 305km/h—the fastest for any SUV. And in case one needed any reminding that this is a Lamborghini, the car sports the signature hexagonal air vents similar to that of the Huracán.
On the performance end, the Urus’ platform has been engineered to be shared with other members of the Volkswagen Group, namely Porsche and Bentley. This means that top speed isn’t its primary goal. Nevertheless, Lamborghini kept this in mind and developed a new 4.0L V8 engine that incorporated two turbochargers for the first time to produce an impressive 650hp and 850Nm of torque.
With all-wheel drive, the traction from the behemoth’s tyres during take-off is phenomenal, allowing it to claw its way to 100km/h in just 3.6sec. It employs the latest eight-speed automatic transmission to send the power to a centre differential for distribution between the front and rear wheels. All four wheels are constantly being driven, with a slight preference towards the rear. The car also has rear-wheel steer for greater agility and stability.
The Urus has a bewildering array of hardware and control systems to do your bidding but to simplify the functions, Lamborghini collates them into a single master control switch called Tamburo, which lets you access the Lamborghini driving dynamics control system. Depending on the road conditions, the drive modes include Sport, Strada (street), Corsa (track), Terra (off-road) and Neve (snow) . Equipped with the latest three-chambered air suspension, the car can also raise ride height for terrain crossing or lower itself for a sportier drive.
Granted, the Urus isn’t the last word in comfort, but considering its overtly sporty nature, it does deliver a decently cushioned ride. The reason for this is the combination of air suspension and an active anti‑roll system that prevents body roll in corners. It is a clever engineering solution that allows you to have your cake and eat it.
When in Rome on the invitation of Lamborghini, I drove the Urus through the city as well as off-road and on the race track. The track is not the usual stomping ground for an SUV, so having us take it on during this trip showed Lamborghini’s confidence in the Urus’ abilities. And of course, we drove in the Corsa mode for a ferocious sports car experience.
Remarkably, the car’s huge carbon ceramic brakes soaked up the punishment from any hard braking. The immensely powerful engine also made the car feel nearly as spirited as the Huracán. In the corners, it was not quite as agile as its super car sibling though it has no equal in its segment. Its massive 23-inch wheel and tyre combination, which is optional, ensured incredible grip to the ground, so it took deliberate provoking to unhinge the Urus.
My experience with the Urus turned out to be a lot better than I had expected. I might have been a tad disappointed that it didn’t have a raucous V12 engine, but its V8 engine more than made up for it with a mighty punch. Most importantly, supercar owners who have been lamenting about only using their ride on the weekends now have the perfect solution that even their family can appreciate.
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