Lamborghini reveals SA-bound Urus 'super SUV'

By Motoring Staff Time of article published Dec 5, 2017

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After five years’ worth of concept vehicles and teaser images Lamborghini has finally revealed the road-going version of its third 4x4, the Urus.

The third you say? Yes, three decades ago the Italian firm released its Countach V12-engined LM002, aka ‘The Rambo Lambo’, and 10 years before that the unlikely carmaker tried its hand at filling an American military contract with a rear-engined dune buggy on steroids called the Cheetah. There was also a failed prototype called the LM001 but because only one was made in 1981 we won’t count it. All three are considered forerunners of what would eventually become AM General’s Humvee.

Not that the Urus inherits any learnings from its predecessors. Where those cars strayed far from Lambo’s core performance philosophies and focussed more on slinging sand, the Urus adheres better to the brand’s historic supercar values. Sort of.

With 478kW and 850Nm coming from its Porsche-sourced 4-litre twin-turbo V8, there’s no doubting the performance factor. Lamborghini claims 0-100km/h in 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 305, shooting the Urus straight to the top of the speedy SUV pile. It’s also the first turbocharged model, that we can think of, in Lamborghini’s 54 year history. Correct us if we’re wrong.

While it’s unwise to expect handling comparable with low-slung Huracans and Aventadors, the Urus does come with the same bag of grip-enhancing tricks as other performance SUVs. Family ties mean it’s built on the same basic platform as the Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7 and Bentley Bentayga, and like those cars it gets electronic torque vectoring, multi-chamber air suspension, electromechanical anti-roll bars and four-wheel steering. 

A Torsen centre differential is fixed at a 40/60% torque split between front and rear axles in normal conditions, but up to 87% can be sent rearward for a rear-wheel driven feel in corners, and up to 70% can be sent to the front when things get slippy.

Spotting a Urus in the bush will be about as probable as seeing a Prada parka at the summit of Everest, but still Lamborghini says some adventuring is possible. Ground clearance is listed between 158 and 248mm depending on air suspension settings, and an optional Off-Road package includes reinforced metal bumpers and additional underfloor protection.

The package also adds two more settings to the ANIMA (Adaptive Network Intelligent Management) drive mode selector, so on top of Strada (Italian for street), Sport, Corsa (track) and Neve (snow), drivers can choose Terra (off-road) and Sabbia (sand) modes with specific ride height, roll bar, throttle, gearbox and differential settings. Though with wheel sizes ranging from 21 to 23 inches, any Sani Pass excursions will likely not suit the low-profile tyres.

It might be hard to view this five-door super SUV in the same evocative light as Lambo’s sexy sports cars, but it’s at least an entirely new approach to the sport ute segment. There’s an almost coupe-like vibe to the Urus’ profile, with chiselled panels and angular lines not dissimilar to the marque’s current exotics. Lamborghini says the bonnet references the historic Miura, but we can’t see it. 

The uniqueness carries on inside where far more effort has been put into differentiating this product from Lambo’s Audi stablemate. Where the Huracan is an unashamed R8 in drag, the Urus is a breed of its own in terms of cabin detail, infotainment interfaces and digital instrument clusters. Two stacked touchscreens in the console are quite similar to those in the latest Range Rovers, but two aircraft-style levers, hexagonal switchgear and vents, and a trademark flip-up red ignition toggle give a specific flavour.

The Urus is scheduled for South African launch in the third quarter of 2018. Pricing will be confirmed closer to the time, but internationally prices closely mirror the base Huracan’s meaning it should come in around the R4.3-million mark.

Lamborghini’s naming tradition sees all of its cars titled after famous bulls, and the Urus carries it on. Urus, also known as Aurochs, were a wild ancestor of domestic cattle, and had an appearance similar to that of Spanish fighting bulls, as bred for the past 500 years.


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