What's it really like to drive a $500,000 Lamborghini?
Tim Nicholson gets behind the wheel of the Urus SUV.
Like many kids who grew up in the 80s and 90s, my bedroom wall was covered with posters of souped-up Aussie muscle cars and dreamy exotic supercars. The likes of the Ferrari Testarossa, Porsche 911 and Lotus Esprit Turbo featured heavily on my wall, but none compared to the radical Lamborghini Countach that looked like something out of a sci-fi movie.
While Lamborghini is best known for its sports cars, it changed gears in 2017 with the launch of the high-riding Urus. This was Lamborghini’s second SUV following the boxy, utilitarian LM002 (also dubbed the ‘Rambo Lambo’) from 1986, which was intended for military use.
Unlike the LM002, the Urus is no rugged off-roader. It’s a high-end, high-performance SUV for the high earning. The version we drove is priced at a touch under $500,000 before on-road costs. For that, you get a brutally powerful twin-turbocharged V8 engine and a lengthy list of add-ons. But what’s it actually like to drive a car like this? I’m glad you asked…
Why does Lamborghini need an SUV?
Porsche started the ball rolling back in the early 2000s by introducing an SUV to its sportscar range. It turned out to be a financial saviour for the brand, allowing it to continue developing the sort of sportscars that made the brand famous. Now, virtually every premium sportscar manufacturer on the planet has followed in its footsteps. Maserati and Aston Martin now have SUVs, Ferrari is currently developing one, and so is Lotus. There are some holdouts like McLaren, who refuse to even consider an SUV model.
Lambo leveraged its place under the enormous Volkswagen Group umbrella to lower development costs to return to the SUV segment. As a result, the Urus shares some of its underpinnings with other models in the VW Group stable, including the Porsche Cayenne, Bentley Bentayga and Audi Q7/Q8.
Despite sharing some of its oily bits and a few interior touches with those models, the V8 engine has been heavily reworked by the Italian brand, with an exterior design that is unmistakeably Lamborghini.
The SUV gamble has paid off big time for Lamborghini. It is the brand’s top-selling model by some margin and a huge profit maker.
I’m sorry, it costs how much now?
If you want to buy a regular Urus with no options included, you’ll pay $395,888 before on-road costs. Most buyers will add in a bunch of extras because they can. The Urus we drove is a ‘Design Edition’ that features a pearl paint in yellow, orange or the blindingly bright ‘Verde Mantis’ (green) of our test car. That paint alone costs a tick over $17,000 – which is the same price as a Kia Picanto.
Lamborghini Urus rear detail.
Okay already – what’s it like to drive?
Flick the ignition gate up and pound the start button for an almighty growl. The throaty exhaust is a treat on start-up and even better on the road.
Under the bonnet is a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 pumping out a hefty 478kW of power and 850Nm of torque. It drives all four wheels via a slick eight-speed automatic.
Once you plant your foot, the turbo spools up and wham, you’re blasted forward with sheer force. Lamborghini says 0-100km/h is done and dusted in 3.6 seconds. Bonkers.
The Pirelli P Zero tyres riding on massive 23-inch wheels are unbelievably grippy, holding the road flawlessly for exceptional cornering. It darts through twisty roads like a car half its size and lacks even a hint of body roll.
Those enormous brakes pull the Urus up with incredible force, and the steering is sharp and engaging.
What’s surprising is the supple ride quality on all sorts of road surfaces.
The Urus has not one but six driving modes to choose from. Strada is for everyday driving, Sport and Corsa are for more enthusiastic driving, Neve for snow, Terra for off-roading (would you want to, though?), and Sabbia, which Lamborghini says is for “scaling dunes in the desert”. We probably wouldn’t recommend driving the Canning Stock Route in this thing, though.
Does it drive like a real Lamborghini?
This is what it all comes down to. Forget the price and fancy features, the big question is, is the Urus a true Lamborghini? And the answer is…sort of.
Hear me out. This sportscar on stilts is capable of jaw-dropping performance and will blow most other SUVs off the road. But it can’t match the experience you get from the Huracan and Aventador. Designed and engineered as pure performance cars, they sit impossibly low to the ground, and their sole purpose is to go very fast and hug corners.
The purpose of the Urus is also to go very fast and hug corners, but it’s also capable of carrying a herd with cargo, and it’s almost a tonne heavier than the Huracan. It can’t compare to its stablemates, but it drives exactly like a Lamborghini SUV should drive.