Barely three minutes after leaving my driveway for an excursion around Los Angeles in a borrowed Grigio Lynx grey Lamborghini Urus “Super SUV,” another one—its chiseled skin painted in Blu Astraeus—popped into my rearview mirror. What this tells you: one, L.A. remains one of the world’s leading showplaces for high-end wheels, and two, the Italian maker’s second-ever sport-utility—following the wild “Rambo Lambo” LM002 from more than a quarter-century ago—is a smash hit. In 2018 alone, following the 2019 Urus’s launch in June, Lamborghini sold a stunning 1,761 copies worldwide. And remember: This is a machine that starts at almost $204,000. Almost 12 months later, there’s a Urus invasion in the City of Angels.
Is the Urus worthy of such celebrity and demand? I got an eye-opening sense of “yes” last December, when I had a chance to flog one around the Streets of Willow Springs racetrack as part of our 2019 Automobile All-Stars competition. Frankly, the Urus proved almost physics-defying, blasting around corners like a sports car half its height, braking with phenomenal and unyielding resolve thanks to standard carbon-ceramic brakes, and screaming forward like a true Lambo, all 641 horses attacking the track via a superb all-wheel-drive system and an active torque-vectoring rear differential. If you’re talking performance, there isn’t another production SUV on earth that can match the Urus. It’s a true Lamborghini.
As for what’s it like to live with a Urus for a few days, that I discovered during my most recent drive. For starters, know this: Lamborghini’s tall four-door is no nervy, high-strung prima donna. If you want it to be, it’s a pussycat, completely content to burble around busy city streets, the air-sprung ride smooth, the eight-speed automatic changing gears all but imperceptibly, the throttle almost mild when the lever-like “Tamburo” driving-dynamics selector is set to Strada (“street”).
Even just cruising around, though, the Urus feels electrifying, its cockpit full of modern-sculpture switches and copper-toned Nero Ade leather seats and, most conspicuously, a flip-up red gate over the center-console start/stop button. It’s doubtful you’d be more awed by the control panel of a nuclear submarine—yet the Urus is no mere show pony. The advanced systems and Audi-derived infotainment interface work beautifully, and it’s easy to navigate your way around. The end result is lovely grand-tourer, a refined, roomy, utterly sophisticated piece—with a double-size serving of pizzazz.
But, man, does it go, too. The Urus boasts impressive DNA—it shares its platform with the Audi Q7 and Q8, the Bentley Bentayga, and the Porsche Cayenne—but dynamically it’s in a different league. Switch to Sport or the even-racier Corsa mode and the Urus’s mild demeanor runs for the hills. Especially in Corsa, the exhaust comes through full-pipe, the engine snarling like a leopard as it guns to its redline, the steering fast and full of feedback, the grip level—as I mentioned earlier—thumbing its nose at Newtonian physics. At no time, as I gunned through the canyons of Malibu, did I think “I’m driving a sport-utility vehicle.” I was thinking “Huracán with a better view.”
Sure, the low-slung Huracán has the edge on responsiveness, ferocity, and ultimate speed, but the Urus still feels special, racy, and eager to run. It’ll blast to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds—or likely quicker. The fact that it also boasts rears seats, a rear hatch, and a generous 22 cubic feet of cargo room seems almost impossible. Does this rig really weigh more than 5,000 pounds? You wouldn’t know it from behind the wheel. At least until Ferrari shows up with its 2022 Purosangue, the Urus looks to be the unchallenged performance star of the SUV field. The new G63 AMG is up there in terms of numbers, for sure, but it’s a sledgehammer compared with the scalpel-like Lambo.
Would you take an SUV with a high-revving, twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 and a top speed of 190 mph off-road? Lamborghini says “sure,” but I doubt many owners will. The Tamburo selector has modes for sand (Sabbia), snow (Neve), and terrain (Terra), and all three raise the ground clearance while also allowing the anti-roll bars to move independently, improving traction. But the thought of a creosote bush gouging scratches in that flamboyant sheetmetal . . . uh, maybe not. “Off-roading” in the case of the Urus probably means snowy climbs to the ski lodge at most.
Such all-weather adaptability, day-to-day functionality, and hair-raising athleticism come at a cost, of course. My test example included a long list of options, including 22-inch Nath diamond rims ($4,798), an Advanced Driver Assistance Systems bundle ($6,313)—including PreCognition anti-collision and a trailer-coupling mode—an ambient light package ($3,036), a panoramic roof ($2,778), Bang & Olufsen 3D audio ($6,313), and a lot more. Total tally: $264,112.
Clearly, that stratospheric sum is no obstacle for plenty of buyers. What’s also clear is that, if you can ante up, the Urus delivers big-time. Like nothing else, in fact. If Ferrari can top this Lamborghini, well, that’ll be something.
2019 Lamborghini Urus Specifications
|ENGINE||4.0L twin-turbocharged DOHC 32-valve V-8; 641 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 627 lb-ft @2,250 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV|
|EPA MILEAGE||12/17 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||201.2 x 79.4 x 64.5 in|
|WEIGHT||5,300 lb (est)|
|0–60 MPH||3.5 sec (est)|
|TOP SPEED||190 mph (mfr)|