Lamborghini Urus: Part 1 of the Super SUV Showdown
What is a super SUV? A supercar, yes, listed in the dictionary as a very expensive fast or powerful car with a centrally located engine, but even then the proper application is subjective and disputed. But a super SUV is still completely open to debate and interpretation, even down to how it should be written. Makes the lecture I was subjected to by the Lamborghini PR people a bit odd, especially their insistence that the Lamborghini Urus is the only SUV worthy of the super SUV tag. Sure the Lamborghini Urus’ marketing is liberally peppered with Super Sport Utility Vehicle but that, to me, is not the most elegant way of putting it – after all in the car world, super sports cars are 911 Turbos, not Aventadors. And why not call them Hyper-SUVs? Or are we leaving that open for a Veyron/Chiron on stilts? Semantics aside, it stands to reason that if a supercar is a car superior to all others, a super SUV is an SUV superior to all others. Or as the Urban Dictionary puts it, very expensive, very fast penis extensions. And on that note, we pit the Lamborghini Urus against the Bentley Bentayga, the Mercedes-AMG G 63 and the Porsche Cayenne Turbo in this four-part series.
The Lamborghini Urus is SUV porn
It’s only fitting that the Lamborghini Urus is the one to bring the word super-SUV into public consciousness, seeing that back in the sixties it was the Miura that got motoring journalists all hot and bothered with the word supercar. And just like the Miura was a supercar even when standing still so too is the Lamborghini Urus a mad, visual, sensory overload. It is spectacular. Gosh, just look at it. Like all those iconic Lambo supercars, the Lamborghini Urus too is worthy of the real estate on your bedroom wall. It’s SUV porn. And even if you delete the badges, everybody will know that this is a Lamborghini; it could only ever be a Lamborghini.
The genius is that they’ve got it right the very first time round. Sure the Lamborghini Urus is not Lambo’s first crack at the SUV genre, but the Rambo-Lambo was brutalist at best. Actually, that LM002 is the only one worthy of the super SUV tag as it was/is the only SUV with its engine sitting mid-ships, how conveniently that detail has been overlooked by the PR/marketing people. And on that note I must apologise for running out of different ways of writing it so let’s stick with Super SUV shall we.
Super SUV showdown part two - Bentley Bentayga
The Huracan that you can drive everywhere
Back to the Lamborghini Urus. You have to remember nobody got their SUV styled right the first time round. Not Porsche (first Cayenne, my god!), not even Rolls Royce (the Cullinan! Good grief!). The Urus though… wow! As it is loaded off the transporter we’re all giggling like little children, taking pictures with our mobile phones, going ooh and aah. Cars rarely make seasoned journos go ooh and aah anymore. And when the Urus is fired up we burst into spontaneous, hysterical laughter. If there’s anything that can turn grown men into eight-year-olds, it is the Urus. I know I’m banging the styling drum a little too much but there’s nothing on the Urus that looks out of place, nothing that looks anything less than spectacular. Down to the exhaust tips, everything is flamboyant and extrovert. It is the Huracan that you can drive everywhere. In fact, it draws as much attention, if not more than the Huracan. If the doors scissored upwards, and I’m sure there is another SUV in the Lambo skunk-works with scissor doors in the wings, it’d be called the Aventador of the SUV world. Forget how it drives, just by the way the Urus has been styled is job done.
That’s something that the PR people have taken too literally because we can stare at the Lamborghini Urus as much as we want, but our driving kilometers are laughably short. If it were anybody else we’d have said no thank you but, erm, this is a Lamborghini and I grudgingly make an exception. It means there’s no time to tell you how it rides or form any impression of any of the nuances that mark out the very good from the truly extraordinary. I pull up my naughty-boy pants, flip up the fighter-jet-trigger-like shield over the start button (what a childishly awesome trick!), toggle the driving mode to Corsa (Sport+ in English), play with my ego (Ego is what the different driving modes are called!) and line it up.
Before launch control, I must point out I also like the small details. The gearbox is an 8-speed auto, not a twin-clutch or a robotised manual, and you do not pull a lever to engage drive. Instead, like a supercar, you tap the right paddle for first. For neutral you don’t move the gear lever to N but pull both the paddles, just as you would in a proper supercar. And for reverse you pull up the ‘gear shifter interface’ on the centre console. It’s not the most logical but it is the most extrovert and the latter is of greater import in something like the Urus.
Super SUV showdown part three - Mercedes-AMG G 63
The wild-child of the supercar world
Foot on the brake, right foot flat on the accelerator, Launch Control activated, eyes on the horizon, and go. Fcking hell! Yeah, sure, you expect a Lamborghini to be fast but this is shocking. The grip is mad as hell, after all there are 315-width 22-inch tyres on the back. For traction the Urus could hardly be found wanting and that means all 641bhp gets ploughed into the tarmac like an absolute beast. It takes superhuman courage to keep the right foot planted; the immediate instinct is to succumb to the fear and lift off but every kilometre is being logged and I’m not going to waste even a millimetre. First, second, third, fourth, 200kmph comes before you know it, the gearshifts are hard but nowhere as hard as on a Huracan, forget the Aventador, and the noise is loud, angry, powerful, appropriately Lamborghini. And then hard, super-hard on the brakes. Brakes are carbon ceramics (on an SUV!!!), the discs are the largest on any production car (440mm rotors up front!), and the stopping force is appropriately violent for a Lamborghini. Heck, everything is appropriate for the wild-child of the supercar world.
“Tyres barely squealed and that means we didn’t even get to the absolute limit of cornering grip – but the absolute limit of my own cornering ability definitely was reached”
Next up is the twisties (I actually researched the perfect location, a straight followed by curves, and then photography and videography on the return back to the flat-bed so not even a kilometre is wasted) and the disbelief continues. There’s no body roll. Nothing that I can make out at least and I’m throwing it into corners at speeds I would not attempt in anything that weighs two tonnes and rides so high. Actually I don’t think I’d attempt these speeds in many cars either – sports, super, anything. The Lamborghini Urus just grips. On a downhill hairpin I get the rear to squirm a bit as I give full gas on the exit but that’s it, a little wiggle, the massive tyres hook up and like a bullet we’re going on and on. Later, when we wrap up, I recall the tyres barely squealed and that means we didn’t even get to the absolute limit of cornering grip – but the absolute limit of my own cornering ability definitely was reached. Heck, to get to the limit of the Urus’ cornering potential you need a race track. Imagine, here’s an SUV that needs, nay requires, a racetrack to broach the final frontier of the handling. My word! What an engineering triumph!
To think that the basic platform is the VW Group MLB-Evo that even the Q7 runs. Okay, that’s a very simplistic description but Audi bits and bobs are sprinkled liberally around the Lamborghini Urus. There’s the Virtual Cockpit, obviously with Lambo-appropriate flamboyant fonts. The indicator stalks, steering wheel controls, all are Audi. I haven’t driven one but my colleague who has, kept murmuring Q8, Q8. If you want a diesel Urus wait, I guess, for Audi to launch the Q8 in India (spoiler alert, this year). If you want a cut-price Urus, there’s an RS-Q8 doing laps round the Nurburgring. And then we will debate if the RS-Q8 is worthy of being called a super SUV, with the Urban dictionary being very clear about the fact that there’s no such thing as a cut-price supercar.
Super SUV showdown part four - Porsche Cayenne Turbo
Supercar for and off the road
Which is all beside the point, for the Lamborghini Urus is the god of all SUVs. Last month we said the Cayenne Turbo, in the real world filled with indifferent roads, varying surfaces and all the nastiness that Indian roads are famous for, is quicker than a sports car. Well, the Urus, in the same real world conditions, is quicker than a supercar. For all of its V10 horsepower, a Huracan always causes a traffic jam behind it as it side-scrambles over speed breakers fearing death to the underbody. With the Urus, speed breakers are no problem. The ride, truth be told, is rather good even in the full-hard Corsa mode. You can fly over little speed breakers and rutted roads without a problem. Plus, since you sit a little higher than Lambo’s cars, you can see further ahead and the added visibility gives you more confidence to stay on the throttle for longer. Unless you’re on a racetrack, a Huracan will never be able to shake the Urus off of its tail. The Urus is the supercar for India. It’s Lambo’s ticket to dominating the supercar market. Their dealers have never been happier, having already sold out their allocation of 9-odd Urus’ each – and they’re clamouring for more. It’s the reason Ferrari are working on a super SUV, and I think it’ll be the hardest super-anything Ferrari have done in a long while. The Urus sets such a high benchmark! The simple truth is the Urus is superior to every SUV you or I have ever driven, and by definition deserves the super SUV tag. As much as I hate to admit it, the Lambo PR people are far from wrong.