Lamborghini has never done subtle. The Italians from Sant’Agata Bolognese don’t do half-measures or tentative first steps. They go all-in, always. No idea is too crazy, no plan too risky. And we love them for it. This devil-may-care approach has resulted in more than a few mistakes and several bankruptcies in Lamborghini’s 55-year history. But it has also resulted in cars that have changed the history of the automobile, like the Miura, a machine that spawned the supercar as we know it. Since 1963, Lamborghini has been many things, but it has never been boring. The company has dabbled in all types of motorized things — none of them slow — including motorcycles, Formula One cars and speedboats.
The company was born of a feud between Ferruccio Lamborghini and Enzo Ferrari. Ferruccio was disappointed with his Ferrari, Enzo dismissed him, and Ferruccio got revenge by creating his own rival sports car company. Its logo is a raging bull, and since 1963, Lamborghini has never failed to live up to that image, creating a long list of wild, untamable machines. Whereas everyone else — Ferrari, McLaren — is fixated on making supercars more accessible, Lamborghini’s cars remain angry, with an air of danger, just like that raging bull.
Of course, there will still be some unenlightened buzz-killers who see Lamborghini’s new SUV — the Urus — as sacrilege, the moment Lamborghini jumped the shark. This, for the record, is a bad take.
For one thing, Lamborghini’s beginnings were humble. Before all the wedge-shaped sports cars, Ferruccio Lamborghini was a successful manufacturer of farm tractors, the ultimate utility vehicle. For another, if Lambo were going to jump the shark, that moment would’ve been when it launched its first SUV, the LM002, back in 1986. But the LM002 only cemented Lamborghini’s reputation as the most exciting automaker in the world — and an understanding of its story is important to fully appreciate the new Urus.
It began in the 1970s when Lamborghini produced a prototype off-road vehicle called the Cheetah for the US military. By all accounts, it wasn’t a good design. That military contract eventually went to AM General for its Humvee. But at Lamborghini, the idea of an off-roader captivated an engineer named Giulio Alfieri, who, in 1982, re-imagined the rear-engine Cheetah as the more conventional front-engine LMA concept. Keep in mind the term “SUV” hadn’t even been invented at this point. It was a radical thing powered by a Chrysler V8. By 1986, Alfieri’s idea had evolved into a production-ready machine powered by the same 5.2-litre Lamborghini V12 found in the Countach Quattrovalvole. Called the LM002, it was a hit at the Brussels Auto Show that year. Only 300 were ever produced, between 1986 and 1992.
“For it to go down in history like the LM002, the Urus will have to be faster, louder, and more deranged than any other SUV on the road. “
At around 180-200 km/h in the LM002, Lamborghini’s test-drivers reported regularly hearing a loud boom, as if the car was breaking through the sound barrier — “As if you were in a low-flying plane,” one of them said. Such a big, blunt thing moving so fast punched quite a hole through the air and left a large slipstream in its wake. In the rearview, there was only a huge cloud of dust.
Here was a thing that looked like a Hummer, but made a sound as it whizzed past like a V12 supercar. If you ever saw one, it would leave your senses at odds with each other, trying to reconcile these two impossible facts.
If you can find a late-model example in good condition today, it’ll set you back around $300,000 — and prices are only going up. Not only is it a good investment, it’s cooler than any other SUV you can buy — the ideal vehicle for a family ski weekend in Zermatt.
To say the Urus has big shoes to fill is a gross understatement. For it to go down in history like the LM002, the Urus will have to be faster, louder, and more deranged than any other SUV on the road. That’s a tall order, given the fact that Aston Martin and Ferrari are both currently working on ’utes of their own. But when it comes to crazy, never bet against Lamborghini.
Alas, Lambo’s new SUV will not be powered by a V12. This is 2018, and even Lamborghini must make concessions to fuel economy. To that end, the company has confirmed a plug-in hybrid version of the Urus will arrive eventually, probably before the decade is done. The first models, however, will be powered by the brand’s first turbocharged motor, a new 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, which Lamborghini says was developed in-house. It’s good for 650 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque — enough to propel this 2.1-tonne beast to 100 km/h in less than four seconds.
It’ll have all-wheel drive, but unlike the LM002, the Urus was never meant to carry troops over sand dunes. No, this was meant to provide Aventador owners with a more practical daily-driver. It will be based, loosely, on the same architecture as other luxury SUVs from Volkswagen Group brands, including the Bentley Bentayga and Porsche Cayenne. However, the Urus is lower and wider than those machines. It’s also the fastest — naturally — with a top speed of 305 km/h.
The company calls this the first Super Sport Utility Vehicle, so, of course it has carbon ceramic brake discs, torque vectoring and all-wheel steering. Among the myriad driving modes, there’s one called EGO, which feels appropriate.
The name “Urus” comes from the long Lamborghini tradition of naming its cars after bulls. Urus was the Latin name for a species of ancient cattle from which the modern Spanish fighting bull is descended.
Few vehicles in recent memory have been so hotly anticipated. The company has doubled its production capacity with a new factory in Sant’Agata dedicated to this new SUV. The original Urus concept debuted back in 2012 at the Beijing Motor Show, and the hype has been building ever since. Even before anyone has driven it, the Urus is already a slam dunk for Lamborghini, with the potential to double the firm’s sales, dramatically changing the business. It’s a safe bet there will be a long waiting list for one of these when it arrives later this year. More importantly, the Urus is proof that Lamborghini is still on the vanguard, still going its own way. Ferruccio wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.