Car reviews - Lamborghini - Urus
Stunning looks, spacious cabin, potentially fiery engine, comfortable ride, beautifully built, easy to drive
Room for improvement
Blind spots, switchgear needs familiarisation, can drink when pushed, big ask to fit into some park bays
Lamborghini’s second attempt at an SUV is big, powerful and seriously impressive
21 Nov 2018
By NEIL DOWLING
ALI Baba may have uttered “open sesame” to access the cave of riches in mythology but in reality, the words to access instant wealth for car-makers are Sport Utility Vehicle.
What started as a soft-roader niche for wannabe explorers quickly turned into Ali Baba’s cave and unexpectedly drew disciples from prestige manufacturers (BMW, Mercedes-Benz et al), then luxury brands (Bentley and Rolls-Royce) and then car-makers that had previously exclusively provided high-end sportscars. Like Porsche – Cayenne and Macan – and now Lamborghini with its Super Sports Utility Vehicle, the Urus.
Lamborghini invented the SSUV tag to define the Urus as a sportscar that could go almost anywhere and, indeed, to places that even their owners would not consider. It is a tag used specifically to raise the profile of the new Lamborghini SUV – the second all-road production vehicle from the Italian brand since the LM series of the 1980s and 1990s – beyond that of its rivals.
The Urus uses components from family members to create its hybrid of the family wagon and sports coupe and, with it, also introducing turbocharging to Lamborghini for the first time.
Australia has a relatively small market but it remains important. Sales have started and dealers already report that most buyers are first-time Lamborghini owners. So though it originally seemed improbable that a revered sportscar-maker such as Lamborghini could find glory and profit in moving to SUVs, it now appears that the move is already paying dividends.
Price and Equipment
Nothing from Lamborghini fits into most buyers’ ideals of value for money. The brand is unashamedly exclusive and reaches a niche audience that has the means to purchase and maintain an exotic sportscar.
But the Urus alters that ever so slightly. It’s still barely affordable – at $390,000 plus on-road costs – to all but a handful of buyers, but the target audience is no longer a single or couple but potentially a family.
The Urus can do more things and because of that, appeals to a broader buying group.
It is an SUV in the sense that it has a versatile cabin with five seats (four seats is a $12,725 option) with rear seats that fold down, a large lift-up hatch at the back and a spacious boot that betters many in its class.
Look closer and it has a full leather interior with high-end infotainment running from satellite navigation through to a central digital TFT monitor with what Lamborghini calls an ‘animated 3D representation” that can be personalised by the owner.
The Lamborghini Infotainment System (LIS) uses two touchscreens, with the main screen for accessing entertainment functions and connecting with media, navigation, telephone and car information.
Beneath this is a smaller screen that has a digital keyboard and compatibility for hand writing information, such as spelling out the name of a street address for the sat-nav. It is also integrated for voice recognition for additional functions such as sending text messages.
That’s part of the standard spec but spend more money and you can specify a TV tuner, digital radio ($1414) and a card reader, head-up display ($3535) , smartphone interface (which connects to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) and rear seat displays ($9721).
Standard audio is an eight speaker unit but think big and you can get the Bang & Olufsen unit with surround sound, 1700 watts of output and 21 speakers for $11,665.
Standard are sport seats with electric adjustment and heating. Optional are finer adjustment levels and ventilation and massage for $5832.
Outside there’s the 21-inch alloys, though 22-inch are available (for about $8000) and Lamborghini even say 23-inch are on offer.
If these features are impressive, note the frameless doors and the (hidden) extensive use of carbon-fibre and forged and extruded aluminium for the chassis and loose panels.
So it can seat up to five people but the four-seat option just makes this car and separates it from – ironically – the market Lamborghini purports to entice: families.
The Urus is tall but its ride height lifts it off the ground while the narrow side glass make it look like the cabin is compressed. It’s not. There’s more than sufficient leg and headroom in the rear for three adults (five seat standard spec) while front occupants equally have a lot of space to stretch.
There’s no sense of claustrophobia as the profile may suggest but there is a sense that the (optional) side steps do complicate the exit manoeuvre.
The heavyweight hand of Audi shows in attention to detail for the occupants. If this was a 100 per cent Lamborghini offering, it’s doubtful there would be cupholders. At least, US-sized cupholders. There’s now two in the front and two in the back seat armrest.
More influence from Germany is the precise finish of the body and, especially, the cabin, switches that switch, gauges that are readable and an infotainment system that is easy to use and comes with crisp images.
Even the glovebox is useable and stuff can even be stored in the door pockets.
For cargo, the rear seat folds down and increases luggage space from 616 litres to 1596 litres which are very good figures for any SUV, surprisingly good for one that looks more like a sportscar than a wagon.
Lamborghini supplies the Urus standard with high-end leather upholstery and trim, although everything you see has the ability to be personalised.
The leather is in single colour though there are five colour options. Owners can specify duo colours for the upholstery ($4595) and have contrasting stitching ($1237). Go crazy and get colours for the seatbelts ($1591), carpets and floor mats.
The steering wheel can be finished in leather, perforated leather, coloured leather, suede and be heated.
Dashboard trim is out of the box in piano black and brushed aluminum but there’s the option of open-pore wood ($3181), carbon-fibre, and aluminium. Maybe you’d like the brand’s logo on the seat head restraints for a mere $1591 extra. Pretty much anything is available for a price.
Engine and transmission
This is the automotive equivalent of kissin’ cousins with Volkswagen Group siblings Audi and Lamborghini merging engineering concepts and components and hanging the lot off the group’s MLBevo platform that is also used – with variances – for the Volkswagen Touareg, Porsche Cayenne, Bentley Bentayga, Audi Q7 and Audi Q8.
The engine is basically the Audi V8 developed with Bentley in 2012 and seen in the above vehicles plus the Bentley Flying Spur and Continental, Audi RSs, Audi A8 and Porsche Panamera. It’s clearly been around.
It was Digital Trends’ Engine of the Year in 2013 which noted that its cylinder deactivation was a particularly neat party trick because it would fill the four lazy cylinders with air, isolate and lock the camshafts, turn off the fuel injectors and coils, then employ the active engine mounts to cancel any vibration. Then it would retrace those steps and get eight cylinders firing within 300 milliseconds.
Lamborghini has fitted different heads to its version, which, together with exhaust tuning, has been responsible for a lift to 478kW at 6000rom and torque of 850Nm at 2250rpm to 4500rpm. This is up 78kW and 80Nm on the Bentayga.
It has turbocharging -- for the first time and no doubt not the last – in a Lamborghini.
The Urus is claimed to have a combined fuel consumption average of 12.3 litres per 100 kilometres with city driving cycle delivering 16.7L/100km and highway running quoted at 9.7L/100km. On test the Urus computer was reading 10.8L/100km after covering some suburban and plenty of country roads.
A bit more enthusiasm in the country and a return journey through the suburbs and city trimmed that to 12.1L/100km, which is acceptable given the size, weight and ability of the SUV.
The engine power heads to all wheels through a common ZF-derived eight-speed torque convertor automatic. The drive is assisted by an electronic rear differential with torque vectoring and a centre Torsen differential.
The rear and centre diffs are controlled by sensors that base power delivery on available traction, though the off-road modes of the drive-select system can lock the front, centre and/or rear diffs to cope with extremely poor surfaces.
Drive goes 40 per cent to the front and 60 per cent to the rear as the default, but use of the drive-select ‘Tamburo’ switch to pick more aggressive drive modes can change that to up to 70 per cent at the front (and 30 per cent rear) or up to 87 per cent to the rear.
Ride and handling
It shares the platform with its cousins but the suspension geometry and details of the components differ between the brands. Urus has electronic air suspension – seemingly de riguer in this class of vehicle – and a drive mode system (Tamburo) that plays with the electrics through six levels, from strada (street) through to hell-bent track madness (corsa) and down to delicate off-road manoeuvres guided by the sand (sabbia) setting.
It’s a diplomatic system with no one mode ruling the roost, though this is tempered by the sheer fear of testing sabbia – and the neighbouring terra (off road) – button to its extreme.
Busting a $400,000-odd Lamborghini after a particularly tough off-road course isn’t something appreciated by most insurance companies.
In the sand it is an assured machine with confidence inspired by the torque of the engine, the breadth of its tyres – still with enough height to reduce air pressure when needed – and the torque vectoring rear differential backed by the Torsen diff in the centre.
Against that is the weight. Although significantly lighter than its rivals, at a shade under 2200kg it’s not an easy extraction if bogged.
On the road it’s weight advantage over the competitors – and here we mean the Bentayga and Range Rover and even the G-Class 63 AMG – makes its point with acceleration that bristles at a mere 3.6 seconds that wipes the board. The Bentley is, for example, almost one second slower (temporarily ignoring the fact that it is still damn quick).
The Urus feels like it’s alive, dancing on its Pirellis on a sprint and beautifully flat and predictable through the corners. There is a lot of the Aventador is the steering wheel feel but none of the harshness of the coupe’s suspension, little of the brashness of the engine and certainly none of the closeness of the cabin.
A lot of that is attributable to the four-wheel steering that has been borrowed from the Aventador, along with the ability to engage a drift mode.
The steering is simply brilliant, tucking the tail into the bend at speed and, when parking, turning in the opposite direction to shave 600mm off the turning circle and bring it down to the same as a mid-size SUV at 11.8 metres.
Then there’s the carbon-composite disc brakes – at 440mm claimed to be the biggest on a production car – and 10-piston front brakes. The rear units have a six-piston caliper sitting on a 370mm disc.
Lamborghini claims the braking is almost as spectacular as the acceleration, dropping a Urus travelling at 100km/h to a full stop in a short 33.7 metres.
The Urus’ downside would be the width, leaving little margins through some country roads, and in more congested areas, the poor rear visibility that is saved to a degree by the reversing camera.
Safety and servicing
If you’re expecting capped-price servicing then you’re shopping at the wrong showroom. Like many exotics and luxury brands, that’s not available. But there is a three-year, unlimited distance warranty and owners can boost that to four years (add $4772) or make it five years (add $9191).
Glass’s Guide does not have an estimate for this car’s three-year resale value.
Lamborghini’s Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) includes autonomous emergency braking; high-beam assistant that automatically fades headlights in and out of high beam mode as required; front and rear parking sensors; and cruise control.
Optional ADAS equipment includes traffic management, bird’s eye view camera and a trailer coupling assistant.
There’s a lot more versatility in this sportscar that you’d expect. It’s quick, roomy, functional and easy to drive. The cabin is beautifully finished and the comfort and ride qualities are excellent. But luxury SUV buyers should be aware this is not a lounge-room-on-wheels vehicle like the Bentley. There is a subtle raw edge to this and a silent expectation that if you buy it, you should be prepared to use it.
Bentley Bentayga from $334,700 plus on-road costs
Imposing and contentious styling wraps around an Audi-derived V8 (similar to the Urus) and constant four-wheel drive system with air suspension. The package typifies Bentley’s mix of luxury and sportiness with the result that despite its bulk, the Bentayga is quick and surprisingly agile. It pumps 400kW/770Nm from its 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8, has a 0-100km/h time of 4.5 seconds and claims an 11.4L/100km average.
Porsche Cayenne Turbo from $239,000 plus on-road costs
Another cousin of the Urus, the Cayenne is back fresh from a makeover with subtle design improvements. The Turbo is the top-shelf Cayenne with the similar 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 delivering 404kW/770Nm for a 0-100km/h time of 4.1 seconds and a fuel average of 11.9L/100km.
Range Rover SV Autobiography Dynamic from $341,400 plus on-road costs
World’s longest name is one of the most attractive SUVs on the market and packs a punch with a 416kW/700Nm supercharged 5.0-litre V8. Diamond quilted cabin, carbon-fibre door insets and console and knurled starter button and foot pedals are highlights. 2019 model specifications and fuel consumption data is unavailable at time of publication because of the new emission testing.
Model release date: 1 October 2018
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