Can irrationality be engineered? Yes. Can a Lamborghini be rational? No… or perhaps, yes. The Urus gives us some interesting questions, and as usual we’re very keen to find out.
In many ways, this is a first for EoW: the first official Lamborghini and the first long-term hyper-SUV press car is a cause for mass celebration.
There’s a guilty pleasure in using such a car as your daily for a week… during full quarantine! The Lamborghini Urus is an oxymoron on four wheels. It’s perhaps the vehicle most representative of the world that we’re living in: a Lamborghini SUV that actually feels nothing like a big 4×4 with huge horsepower. Think about this: nowadays we have track cars which feature all creature comforts, and SUV’s that feature all the rugged edge of a proper supercar. Perhaps, the Urus is the ultimate modern vehicle made to answer the ever so present question: if you could have only one car, which could it be?
This Lambo is a mix of the sensible, the rational and the complete irrational. It has four seats and can travel comfortably while driving on any road; most importantly, it still has the same savagery and outrageous nature that made Lamborghini so loved to this day by many. Most importantly, it has impeccable vehicle dynamics and behaviour: does it feels like an SUV? Not at all: it’s more like a fast 2+2 GT that can travel off-road. As the fine folks at Sant’Agata Bolognese were very keen in insisting that the Urus could actually go anywhere and do anything you want it to do, we decided to find out. Not that we were short of ideas, and since we’re more the old school type of petrolheads, we followed the settings written in Italian on the centre console, the “Anima.” In other words, we had a Lamborghini as a daily driver for one week and we wanted it all. Without compromise.
The only setting that we didn’t try was Sabbia (Sand) as, it’s quite challenging finding some sand in winter while in semi-lockdown… also because the nearest real sandy location is the Tabernas desert in Spain. Yet, for one week we had a mechanized Bull that could do everything and more. From the classy urban landscape of Milan, to the corners of the Modena racetrack, to the mud of the Langhe region, and to the snow of the Italian Alps- we had it all. There’s a feeling of connection and immense satisfaction in driving a Lamborghini right in the land where it was made. To take it out and see the countryside while driving on the long, infinite straights evokes a time when Miuras and Countachs were shrieking at full speed down these same roads. For an enthusiast, there’s hardly any more satisfaction than to drive off and spot the camouflaged prototypes passing by: call us silly, but you do feel a sort of connection between the car, you, and the surroundings.
We believe in the “back to the roots” philosophy and our first stop was visiting a friend of ours who by chance had just bought a lovely Countach S “low body” that he wanted to show us. Knowing the influence of the classic Gandini Line of this car on the Urus, it was quite a treat to see both cars together. What should have been a short visit ended up in 2 hours of pure nerd-out on Lamborghinis and supercars. What we had was an SUV and we were comparing it to the V12 beasts that defined the history of the Raging Bull.
As the chief designer said multiple times, the Urus was inspired by the Countach in many ways and it shows in the design: having a desirable low body example before us, not counting two Diablos, we had a lot to discuss. For sure, being pedantic enthusiasts we would have wanted a V12 up front. Well… that would have been absolutely terrific and completely mad. Not that the 4 litre twin turbo engine that we had was bad, but c’mon… it would have been a nice experiment to rock-crawl while spitting flames like an Aventador! Still, the savagery we wanted was there… no complaints at all then. We could bemoan all day that even Lamborghini has had to conform to the “fashion” of large SUV’s but is that the case here? Perhaps, we should remember that Ferruccio Lamborghini was a farmer, a family man and somebody who enjoyed practicality as much as performance.
Back in the glorious 60’s, he built the Espada, which he regarded as his “Rolls Royce.” It was a large 4 seater more expensive than the Miura and offered top class creature comforts and enjoyed commercial success. Around the same time, Lamborghini offered the Jarama 2+2, another gorgeous GT, arguably one of the best cars money could buy at that time.
Perhaps, sensibility wasn’t really a stranger to Lamborghini after all. As a matter of fact, the idea of an everyday, top class motorcar was well planted in Ferruccio’s mind since the beginning. To have an SUV right now feels that Lamborghini went back to the roots of its truest philosophy. The Urus feels right at home between the narrow dirt roads of this region. It’s a sort of homecoming to where it all started: the Lamborghini family were farmers in the town of Renazzo and the young Ferruccio was educated to the rigors of hard labour in the fields.
In a way, a Lamborghini 4×4 makes sense. Utilitarian, comfortable and spacious and it’s perfect for use as an all rounder: our press car even had a retractable trail hook! As an SUV, it’s simply a fashionable means of conveyance, but in such an environment, it becomes as a pleasurable way to transport supplies around in such a car.
Since we couldn’t resist and hence the fact that in Strada we never actually had any need to press harder than necessary on the throttle. Since Modena’s Autodromo was on the way home and since it was empty, it meant that it was all for us! Having friends in high places grants you good opportunities after all. Having tried the Strada settings on the roads around Sant’Agata, we were more than keen to try out the radical Corsa mode. If all our lucubrations over Lamborghini were right, we had to give it a proper go. The Urus has four wheel steering, active roll bars, air suspension and a twin-turbo 4 litre V8 with 650 horses: on paper, it shows promise.
What you should be aware of is that this SUV defies the laws of physics as direction changes are instantaneous, with no roll, maximum composure and incredible dynamics. The acceleration is savage, the gear-changes give you a proper kick in the back, and the exhaust is loud enough to be heard from a distance. The torque balance in this mode is shifted towards the rear, for maximum sportiness.The response of the Urus to the driver’s inputs is very tactile and takes into consideration the driving style of the driver. Consider that in Corsa mode, the throttle response and the power delivery are calibrated specifically to the inputs that the driver is giving to the car. Feathering the throttle results is smooth delivery, allowing you to take full advantage of the four-wheel drive system. The four wheel steering action, paired with the active anti-roll bars reduce pitch and roll considerably, resulting in such rapid direction changes that you hardly doubt you’re driving a 2-tonnes super SUV. In hard cornering, the central differential behaves as a self locking unit, transferring power to the wheels, which have more traction. From the standard 40-60 torque partition front and rear, torque can be split up to 87% of the torque to the rear axle and 70% to the front, when necessary.
Upon entering the corner the Urus inspired so much confidence that you’ll find yourself increasing the pace corner after corner. The clever set up of the rear active differential is controlled by an electro-hydraulic motor acting on the gearing of the differential. This layout works with the lateral acceleration ECU that automatically multiplies the torque sent to the wheel, external to the corner. Differing from a normal torque-vectoring system, where they move the torque to the different wheels, the system of the Urus increases the amount of power, resulting in a maximized traction during hard cornering.
Pair this with the active roll bars and the rear steering, which can turn the rear wheels up to 3 degrees in the same direction of the front wheels, and you’ll end up with a car that feels fabulous to drive fast. The sensation is that of driving a smaller and lighter car, very forgiving and sincere in its feedback. The steering rack has no lag and reacts with precision and immediacy with a very intuitive action. Needless to say that the savagery of the acceleration and the fast gearshifts give you a very pleasurable driving experience… which was unexpected, to be honest.
This came in as a shock as no other super SUV can boast such a high level of dynamism and immediacy. You could tell that the knowledge of Lamborghini makes everything go faster. Parked next to a Huracan Super Trofeo with a deep smell of brakes and the tingle of the warm exhaust, it looks like it just came out of an endurance race. It’s a sort of flashback to the days when the Company was doing consultancy for a noted American brand, which decided to have a certain 10-cylinder truck engine modified for use in their first sports car. You can put a truck through the hands of Lamborghini, and you’ll end up with an F1.
As excited as we were to test the state of the art dynamics, we headed out to our next proving ground. A trip to the hills of Piemonte region resulted in the next test on the Anima setting, “Terra” or LM002 mode, if you prefer. The conditions were fairly bad, given that there was a lot of snow that melted, making roads look like mud pits. In this setting, the Urus can be raised up to 248mm in total and acts as a proper off-roader. The stability and heavy braking in these conditions are impressive: accelerate and brake as hard as you can but the Urus just won’t bother about the conditions. The clever 4×4 system maximizes traction and helps with an ideal torque transfer, always resulting in the most optimal performance in these harsh conditions.
Like a chameleon, the Urus adapts wonderfully and soon you’ll find yourself driving in a completely different manner than you would on track, using the weight transfer to maintain excellent directionality and high overall speeds.
Our journey following the Anima setting couldn’t be completed without having a proper test in the mountains, hence the Neve (Snow) setting. In Italy, the place with the most extreme temperatures in winter is the Asiago Plateau, where temperatures can go down to as low as -20. Needless to say, this was the best place for driving on the snow setting. Our press car, a wonderful Blu Eleos example, wasn’t fitted with the optional off-road kit as it wasn’t available when it was built, so we didn’t explore extreme terrain. However, the Plateau is wild and not as popular as other skiing areas, and it offered quite a few roads to experiment.
With the traction control being invasive, it was quite easy to manage slippery situations, especially on ice. Controllability combined with the wonderful tactical qualities of the Urus made this an easy experience: the feeling of being in control without too much effort is definitely what makes this car fairly unique. Consider driving through a place where conditions were changing and ice was a constant threat, and yet not feeling any stress at all- it’s something that doesn’t happen everyday. The Asiago Plateau is an extreme place and the Urus rises to the occasion, providing a drive experience so confidence inspiring that the wilderness truly feels… unlocked.
This mechanized Bull is clearly the work of clever people. Forget about the YouTube sensation of this car and let’s focus on the substance: there’s a lot to know and to love about this SUV. Imagine if the kids who in the 80s had the Countach as their poster car could hear now that an everyday Lamborghini is possible and a tangible reality.
It has multiple personalities completely separate between each other. It’s the rational insane Lamborghini which has studied at University and has the best answer for every situation… even when you want to drive around making loud noises. We truly started our journey not in Sant’Agata Bolognese, but in a small, almost hidden-away garage not so far away from the Factory, alongside the icon of this Company, the Countach, and we ended in Milan, at night. The competence of the Urus allowed us to be silly, driving around in Sport, with the open exhaust and its loud pop-corn, simply because we knew we had a Lambo under our feet. In this journey we played the jester, then the professional, we got dirty then became family men by carrying people and things around, and most importantly, we got excited. So let it be, a sensible car that can go anywhere and still be able to do stupid things, just because: perhaps it’s a big middle finger to all.
Unlocking every road is possible… and will always lead to the unexpected. No one could believe that a driving oxymoron could be the epitome of the rational madness that this car is. Having it parked under Cattelan’s big middle finger as a monument that breaks all the rules and sends a big F.U. to everyone… in the end, this is a Lamborghini.