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Lamborghini Has a Surprise For You

The 2019 Urus is unlike any other Lamborghini in existence

Courtesy Lamborghini

Italian supercar brands forge cults like religious orders. Whether it’s drivers devoted to the race-inspired, uncompromising power of Ferrari or the matured elitism of Maserati, once red, white and green passion sets in for well-heeled men and women, they tend to stick to their favorite badges with fierce loyalty.

So, I imagine, everyone who worships Lamborghini needs to take some time to ponder the 2019 Urus. It’s not far-fetched to say the gorgeous, new midsize SUV is the biggest departure for any automaker in the last 10 years and certainly the most surprising shift in identity for a builder of supercars.

Lamborghini remains the boldest and most wonderfully insane of Italy’s cars. Amongst the cars with common dealerships in the U.S. selling machines you can see on streets from Manhattan or Beverly Hills, Lamborghini offers the most aggressive visual designs and performance numbers. Lambo piles on the fins and the stealth fighter fenders with shameless panache.

They world trembled at the Countach. There’s an attention-hungry craziness about an AventEdor or a Huracan. For generations, any car wearing the fighting bull emblem wanted to be amongst the loudest, the fastest, the brightest, the priciest and the baddest. Still, while Lamborghini was flying along and building that brand reputation, a massive trend built momentum in the automotive business. The emergence of midsize SUVs and crossovers created a class of automobiles destined to dominate the industry. Regardless of whether a given automaker counts itself amid the general consumer or mid-range luxury tier, it’s a solid bit that a company’s best seller is a crossover. From Lexus to Buick, crossovers rule the line.

That world famous bullish badge broods from a wide, dark grill—telling lesser vehicles to clear the way for this new $200,000+ player in the SUV game.
With the reality of the crossover craze staring them in the face, what were the supercar makers to do? Big people carriers capable of rugged, all-terrain transport worked for Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, BMW, Lincoln and their ilk. However, the hypercar contenders live in more rarified air and take their identities very seriously. The forgers of the world’s greatest performance cars weren’t supposed to make anything “utility vehicle” in its name. Arguably, Porsche broke the impasse with the introduction of the Cayenne—though some would argue that’s more of a big, super sport hatchback than an SUV. Beyond the Maserati Levante and the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, Bentley opted for the full-size treatment with its Bentayga; a luxury SUV that manages to look, sound and drive like a true Bentley – and the wealthy drivers who put the pricey British builds in their six cast garages accepted (even welcomed) it into the line for evermore.

Now, the Lamborghini faithful must decide if they will do the same with the Urus. It’ll be an interesting adoption process as Lambo lovers differ greatly from Bentley backers. It’s a short jump from a Bentley Continental into the hand-stitched leather seats of a Bentayga. Even the fastest, most performance-tuned Bentley has a stateliness to it. They cruise well above the noise and haste even north of 100 mph. That sense of superiority and comfort is important to Bentley drivers, but they don’t necessarily want to call out too much attention from the little people. The noble Bentayga was welcome to apply for membership in that club and is now a fixture.

That all worked for Bentley, but there’s really no reason to drop six figures on a Lamborghini if you enjoy anonymity. Its cars exist to capture attention—each one a sight and sound spectacle. So, when the executives, designers and engineers over in Bologna decided they could no longer ignore the millions upon millions of dollars spent on SUVs every year, they needed to create a fully serviceable SUV that offered the same fury and dazzle of any other Lamborghini creation.

Did they pull it off with their 2019 Urus? Calling its creation the “world’s first Super Sport Utility Vehicle,” Lamborghini’s crew made certain the proper spirit of Italian passion reported for duty. The styling is ultra-aggressive, perfectly blending a high-riding stance atop 21-inch wheels with a wide, hunched, aerodynamically forgiving frame. That world famous bullish badge broods from a wide, dark grill—telling lesser vehicles to clear the way for this new $200,000+ player in the SUV game.

A five-seater with room for golf clubs under the rear hatch, the Urus never tries to cheat its SUV/crossover identity by keeping one wheel in the world of the hyper car. It’s true you can find echoes of an Avantador in the sweeping lines running from the passenger cab up to the small rear window looking in on the SUV’s payload bay, but that’s where any hints of “car-ness” end. The Urus stands tall with a length of 201 inches and a curbside weight of 4,850 tons.

The minds behind Lamborghini know that the true proof of identity for any Italian super ride lives under the hood. The days of V12 utilization are fading — even amidst halo cars. So, the Urus employs a four liter V8 bi-turbo engine, capable of producing 650 horsepower and a published 0-60 mph time of about 3.6 seconds. The engine noise is a proper Lambo bellow, even if its baritone notes lack the high-pitched, almost Formula One-like turbo wine some super coupes manage. Eight cylinders is clearly enough to provide sufficiently brutal velocity.

After parking and shutting down the Urus on a quiet southern California night, the noise of the powerful fans needed to cool that powerplant drowned out the engine noise of passing, mass-market crossovers. Lamborghini’s entry into the SUV world is simply a giant amongst mortals.

The Urus driving experience is what the typical Lamborghini driver will have to adapt to as they adjust to a Super Sport Utility Vehicle world. It shouldn’t be that grueling an educational curve as the Urus tackles all driving scenarios with big money aplomb. An eight-gear automatic transmission with sport paddle shifting in high-performance drive modes joins with full-time all-wheel-drive keep all of that power under control. Sticky Carbon ceramics brakes bring it all to a stop with impressive immediacy.

Luxurious and comfortable, riding atop exquisite four-wheel independent suspension, the Urus is a perfect grand touring choice for top-end buyers. At highway speeds (…the thing can seemingly idle at 100 mph…), the Urus can fly past anything else on the road. On the streets, potholes and speed bumps are a vague afterthought. In turns, that wide stance adds grip and cuts down on understeer.

However, while serving up this ride as smooth as Venetian glass, the Urus waits to remind you what automaker built it. Let’s say you want to blow by an annoyance ahead of you on the freeway or get out of a wolf pack clogging up the streets. You position for the pass and put your foot down. You’re immediately met with an explosion of halo car-worthy noise and eye-popping speed apt to toss your head into the back seat. There’s little doubt your fellow drivers and terrified pedestrians will never see an SUV move quicker.

Blazingly fast or not, the Urus is still an SUV and doesn’t shrink away from that “sports utility” tag. Its Anima intelligent drive mode system allows the driver to adjust suspension, wheel height and power settings from Strada or Corsa (Street or Track) to Sabbia, Terra or Neve (Sand, Off-Road or Snow). The Urus’ Torque Vectoring technology distributes the power to the wheel with the most grip to propel the vehicle through the various surfaces.

There is one button in the tech-stuffed cockpit that could cause a Lamborghini enthusiast to raise a well-groomed eyebrow. In past decades, the idea of an eco-griendly button (called the EGO here) in a hypercar would’ve played like sacrilege. Still, there it is, waiting prominently on the Urus’ center console to set all of the drive settings to the most comfortable and fuel efficient options. This long-haul driving mode helps the SUV pull down fuel efficiency numbers of 12 mpg street and 17 highway. And fortunately, the term’s presence here is merely another option. If the driver wants the feel of an ultra-powered SUV, it waits loyally within this new mid-size beast. If he or she wants to cruise, that EGO switch can be flipped anonymously.

The new Urus is the vehicle Italy’s beloved hypercar maker needed to build to take advantage of an evolving industry—and its boffins built it perfectly. Now, it’s up to the faithful attending the Church of Lambo to decide if they welcome this stately creature to their holy order.

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