Each week our team of experienced senior road testers pick out a new model from the world of innovative, premium and performance badges, and put it through its paces.
Here we go again - none. What a glorious state the industry is in that so many models launched in the last 12 months have no heritage - that is, they aren’t simply the ninth rehashing of a popular car that’s been around since the Seventies, with minor improvements in pace and weight which no customer will see. No, we’re seeing a plethora of brand-new shapes, brand-new names and brand-new powertrains.
The Urus is Lamborghini’s first foray into the SUV market: yes, there was the LM002 in the late Eighties and early Nineties, but it was not exactly the lifestyle vehicle we buy today. A more pertinent example of that would be the one-off estate built for the Sultan of Brunei.
As brand fans will know, however, Lamborghini does have a heritage of four-wheel-drive and (Chelsea) tractors.
Say what you like about the whole Urus idea, but the reality is a commercial necessity, hence we now have SUVs from Porsche, Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Lamborghini with Aston Martin and Ferrari following hot on the heels. McLaren swear blind they’ll never make one. We’ll see.
It’s very weird to sit in a Lamborghini with proper rear seats. On one hand, it feels like an Audi RS5, due to the sharing of internal switchgear and parts among VW Group companies. On the other hand, it’s a little cramped and dark, thanks to the more sporty, sloping roof line, and that’s no bad thing - if you buy a Lamborghini, you want it to feel like a Lamborghini.
And so at the front we have the traditional Lambo starter button protected by a fighter-jet-style red lever that must be lifted first (kids loved it, of course). The lever to select drive mode (comfort, track, snow, sand etc.) is a funky little thing, and the modes are given their Italian names, of course.
Our test Urus came in white with a black interior - one can’t help feeling a Lambo should always be lime green or orange. Inside there’s a two-screen touchscreen, like the one Land Rover now puts in its top cars, and a 21-speaker - count them! - Bang and Olufsen stereo.
There’s also Apple CarPlay and all the VW Group goodies… But it’s the next bit you’ll be looking at…
Obviously, it’s the fastest 2.2-tonne SUV out there, until Ferrari unveils its one. 0-62mph is over in just 3.6 seconds, courtesy of 641 horsepower, if that’s the life you’re after. Lift that lever, press that button, and you’ll wake the neighbours until the revs of the twin-turbo V8 engine settle.
You’ll be wanting to keep it in Sport mode, to keep the engine noisy and the exhausts banging and popping, otherwise why did you buy a Lambo? Needless to say, it’s fast in any gear, thanks to a huge slap of torque (626lb ft) at just over 2,000rpm, and even though this is essentially a supercar, given its weight, it’s the torque that counts.
If you really do insist on being an unobtrusive driver around town, no problemo. Keep it in standard drive mode and the engine quietens to a mere burble.
The suspension makes use of the group’s 48v anti-roll system which so impresses in the Bentley Bentayga; it means there’s little wallow or yaw, and goes a decent way to disguising the traditional “rubbish handling” attributes of an SUV. In fact, you can sling this round a corner in a way which puzzles the brain and disconcerts the occupants, who are bracing themselves for a hefty tip towards the windows.
We want to say “loads”, because we are among Lamborghini’s biggest fans, ever, and this is a very decent offering from the brand, full of verve and cheek and bonkers performance. It’s just that a high-performing SUV from a supercar brand still requires some thinking about. The Urus pulls you emotionally in two different directions, while your head knows that the whole thing is inevitable and here, right now, to be accepted as a motoring ethos.
Perhaps it comes down to the styling: perhaps Lambo has been too apologetic in its offering - if we’d wanted a sober super-SUV, we’d have waited for Ferrari’s offering, or put a deposit down on the Aston DBX. A Lamborghini SUV we can handle, but make it absolutely barking, stark-raving mad. It’s not far off that, but an extra aero flourish or two in the design might have sealed the deal.
As it is, the passion comes from that performance, which thankfully hasn’t been dialled down. The final verdict, perhaps, should come from mums and kids on the school run - this is a car which will undoubtedly be bought for that purpose. We’ll leave it to the five-year-olds.