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2019 Lamborghini Urus: First Drive Review

The 2019 Lamborghini Urus helps us reach a new appreciation of the word "excess." In some people’s eyes, the all-new Urus SUV/crossover might have an excessive amount of power, exhibit over-the-top looks and cost crazy money. And why is a legendary builder of supercars making an SUV anyway, apart from the desire to cash in on this seemingly irresistible, unavoidable trend?

Forget all that stuff. The Urus is amazing, worthy of the famed bull badge, with the perfect amount of excess. And where does it say that supercar marques aren’t allowed to produce super sport utility vehicles?

OK, even calling the Urus "amazing" might seem excessive, but it does have the power to amaze, not just from what’s under the hood. This is, after all, a Lamborghini. The Urus is the first (and so far only) SUV from Lamborghini since the company became part of the Volkswagen/Audi operation.

And yes it does deviate from tradition. The 2-seater, midengined supercars are assembled virtually by hand at the old and hallowed Sant’Agata Bolognese factory in northern Italy, whereas the Urus is built in a brand-new mechanized facility constructed alongside. Lamborghini knows it has to make a whole lot more of these to satisfy demand.

Not least because this is a Lambo that owners can drive every day. It has no problems dealing with speed humps, is easy to get in and out of and can be surprisingly civilized.

Bull Power

Which is quite a feat when the Urus has 641 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque emanating from its twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 (Lamborghini’s first turbocharged engine). Bear in mind that 500 hp is the point where most sane extreme driving enthusiasts would say "enough" and get on with blasting from A to B in the shortest time possible. But, you know, excess is good.

The clever bit is that maximum torque, the surge of acceleration that happens when the gas pedal is pressed, comes in at a fairly low 2,250 rpm. So the sprint from 0-to-60 miles per hour can take a sports car like 3.6 seconds. For an SUV weighing 4,843.5 pounds, that really is amazing. Top speed, meanwhile, is limited electronically to a delightfully white-knuckled 189.5 mph. The exhaust system makes sure that spines are tingled while all this is happening.

Having such accessible torque also brings benefits if anyone takes their Urus off-road. It allows a driver to modulate the throttle so there’s no (or little) wheel spin on tricky surfaces, yet still get the vehicle moving.

Bull Bearings

The transmission is an 8-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. It works perfectly well and sends engine output to a standard-issue all-wheel drive system with a limited-slip center differential.

Under normal conditions, the system splits torque with 60 percent going to the back axle, for a predominantly sporty rear-wheel drive feel. But it can send up to 87 percent of available power rearward, or up to 70 percent to the front. It also facilitates torque vectoring for superior cornering talents, making the outside wheels turn faster than the inside.

As well as each corner receiving power, the Urus has all-wheel steering. At lower speeds, the rears go in the opposite direction to the fronts to tighten turning circles and enhance the vehicle’s maneuverability. At higher speeds, all four point the same way for optimum stability when, say, changing lanes.

More engineering ingenuity is evident in the suspension. It’s an adaptive air setup tuned to handle a broad range of demands. Along with active anti-roll bars and active wheel decoupling, the Urus can maintain constant contact with the road (or trail) surface with all four wheels. As a desert racer, the Urus could be awesome, especially since the selectable driving modes include a setting for sand.

Play the Tamburo

Yet the Urus is even more at home on a race track, where a firm suspension is essential. The method of making the Urus harmonize with its environment is a collection of controls set into an inverted T shape at the base of the center console. Lamborghini calls it the Tamburo.

Flip the red cover and press the button that fires up the engine. No, that cover doesn’t have to be there, but it’s a nice dramatic touch. To the left is a lever marked "Anima." Pull it to scroll through the settings. Strada is the regular road-going setting. Next comes Sport, suitable for sets of quick canyon road bends. Corsa means track, and the traction/stability controls are relaxed to allow some tail sliding and driver correction before cutting in. Then there’s Sabbia (sand), Terra (dirt) and Neve (snow).

On the right side is a lever marked Ego, which allows drivers to customize their own settings of steering, throttle, transmission and suspension responses.

Even in Strada mode, the Urus is quick. In Corsa mode, the suspension drops by about an inch (it raises itself in the off-road modes) and the acceleration becomes wilder. There are other SUVs that can handle some off-road challenges and still deliver a satisfying performance on the track, like the BMW X5 M and the Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR, but the Urus is on another level. It’s so gloriously fast, yet so composed, with a much more advantageous power-to-weight ratio. At first, the higher driving position and center of gravity (compared with a sports car) take some getting used to, but familiarity and trust soon kick in.

When the time comes to hit the brakes, the Urus deploys massive carbon ceramic discs — 17.3 inches up front, 14.6 inches at the rear — the largest on a production vehicle. Another example of excess being a positive aspect. The front calipers house 10 pistons. Carbon ceramic discs are resistant to fade and often highly expensive extras in other manufacturers’ vehicles, while most only offer 6-piston front calipers. The Urus has all this as standard.

Bull Room

No one usually describes a Lamborghini interior as spacious, but the Urus rewrites the rules here as well. The cabin is sumptuous and roomy, full of high-quality leather, aluminum and carbon fiber. In its regular form, the Urus seats five, but offers four bucket seats. The standard front seats are well-shaped and comfortable, although we found the optional sport seats to have greater lateral support.

Lamborghini says someone measuring 6-feet 3-in will be fine sitting in a rear seat. We wouldn’t argue. Cargo space is 21.8 cu ft. behind the rear seats, expanding to 56.4 cu ft. when they’re folded down.

Bull Market

The 2019 Lamborghini Urus is on sale now and starts at $200,000. That’s a lot of money for a form of personal transport that doesn’t involve wings. But consider all the standard equipment that also includes 21-in wheels, navigation, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and parking sensors at both ends. Options include a Bang and Olufsen 12-speaker audio system, bigger wheels and an off-road package.

It would be easy to dismiss the notion of a Lamborghini SUV as pandering to market forces. Maybe that’s how and where the idea first arose, but the execution is as red-blooded and hair-raising as a Lamborghini supercar, while also being the most comfortable and capable Lamborghini there’s ever been. It’s a win-win.

To gain access to this information, Autotrader attended an event sponsored by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

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Colin Ryan
Colin Ryan specializes in writing about new cars. But he has also covered trucks, vans, 3-wheelers, even the occasional motorbike. That’s the kind of thing that happens while contributing to the Los Angeles Times, Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, Popular Mechanics, Variety, Mazda and Lexus customer magazines, as well as many enthusiast sites and publications. He was also a staff writer at BBC Top... Read More

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