The Lamborghini Urus is the perfect mix of sportscar and SUV

There's something stupidly sensible about the Lamborghini Urus. Five seats, family space, head-up display, fuel-saving start-stop when stationary and the crisp audio of a 21-speaker sound system.

Then you prod the throttle and some of that Lamborghini mongrel roars to life, a prod of the throttle thrusting it forward like a child launching a toy car across the house.

Welcome to life in the world's fastest SUV.

Profit machine

The Urus is the Lamborghini that had to happen, because SUVs are easier to create than sports cars – and they can seriously boost the bottom line.

But also because the Chinese market doesn't aspire to supercars like the rest of the world does. For a sports car brand to work in China, it needs an SUV, one of the reasons Ferrari is set to renege on previous promises never to build an SUV.

Not that the Urus is a regular SUV, at least according to Lamborghini. No, it's an SSUV, or super sport utility vehicle.

That can be attributed to the performance but also the wagon body.

At 1638mm high it's one of the lowest SUVs on the market, even undercutting the Porsche Cayenne by 35mm.

While it's impossible to hide the bulk of a five-seat wagon, the slimming side windows, bold angles and enormous wheels (ours were optional 23-inch units) make for impressive visual aggression.

Advertisement

Family affair

Beneath the skin the Urus rides on the same architecture of the Porsche Cayenne, Bentley Bentayga and Audi Q7.

That gives it pedigree, the adjustable air suspension tuned to infuse Lamborghini character.

While there's ultimately no hiding the high centre of gravity, the active roll stabilisation does a brilliant job resisting the urge to flop and lean.

The steering is ultra direct and there's immense grip, ensuring the sort of cornering aggression an SUV shouldn't be capable of.

Down and dirty

The Urus is also designed to go off-road, with raw numbers to back it up, including up to 248mm of ground clearance – more than a Toyota LandCruiser.

As well as Neve (snow), there are dedicated optional off-road modes: Sabbia (sand) and Terra (off-road), each of which tailors throttle response, gearshifts and traction control.

Tellingly we were requested not to take it off-road, in part because the owner's manual warns "an accident may occur" if you do so on the 23-inch wheels fitted to our car.

Indeed, it's tyres that are the limiting factor; low profile Pirelli rubber isn't designed to be pounded over rocks and mud, plus there's no spare.

Hear the roar

The 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 is designed by Porsche but it's been given the Lamborghini go-fast treatment, enough for 478kW and a whopping 850Nm.

It's not the most powerful SUV on the market (the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk takes that prize, with 522kW) but it is the fastest.

The Urus hits 100km/h in 3.6 seconds on the way to 305km/h.

While it's slower than Lamborghini's sports cars (no surprises there!) it is brutally effective as a five-seat wagon. Fast and ferocious with that sensation that suggests topping the triple tonne wouldn't be an issue.

In Sport mode the muted sound gets added induction thrum for a more complete sporty noise.

But it's Corsa mode where things get more aggressive, the upshifts on the eight-speed auto noticeably more aggressive and more cracks and burbles from those sizeable exhausts.

It's no V10 or V12 – Lamborghini gets those cars screaming – but it's satisfying by SUV standards.

It'd be better if you could dial up that full-throat sound in Strada mode, with its more relaxed gear shifts. Ultimately Sport mode is the best compromise for some bark without Corsa's jerky shifts.

Car about town

There's one area the Urus is easily faster than its sports car brethren – speed humps and driveways.

Whereas you have to crawl over them in a V12 Aventador, it's brisker in the Urus.

Combined with decent space in the back seats (head room suffers slightly from that sloping roofline) it makes for a thoroughly practical SUV.

Lots of Italy reminders, too, from the flag colours on the steering wheel and front guards to the names for the ambient lighting colours - Arancio, Rosso, Verde, Blu and Ego, the latter customisable between 30 hues.

Technology play

There's also lashings of technology, from the digital instrument cluster (which is thoroughly Audi, the temperature and fuel gauges a carbon copy) and dual centre infotainment screens; like the steering wheel switchgear it's almost identical to an Audi A7.

The biggest negative is vision. The slimming window line makes for poor rear and side vision and it's not helped by the left rear vision mirror, which doesn't provide a broad enough view.

There are also some quirks, such as the lack of a proper gear selector. Instead, you grab the right-hand shift paddle to engage Drive, then the aircraft-like lever in the centre console to pull back for Reverse.

It means parking and U-turns are a two-handed job and you have to keep an eye on where that shift paddle is so you can go forward.

Cash up

The list price for the Urus is $390,000, although it's another $11K-odd to get the Bang & Olufsen sound system that for now is a "compulsory option" (later in 2019 the standard sound system will be available).

Then there's stamp duty, dealer delivery and registration, which will add about $30K depending on your state.

So don't expect change from about $430K, or more if you start ticking some of the myriad option boxes.

And there are things that really should come as part of the big buck deal: digital radio and an electric tailgate, for example.

Still, as a shock-factor SUV with supercar straight-like straight-line performance the Urus adds flair to the growing sports SUV segment – all with plenty of unexpected sensibilities never before seen in a Lamborghini.