FIRST DRIVE | The 2020 Lamborghini Urus is a surprisingly friendly brute
There are folks out there for whom the definition of recession pertains only to waves at a beach. Pay attention if that applies to you, because in the space that follows we are going to be discussing a sport-utility vehicle with an asking price in the millions!
The specific arrangement of numbers and commas is perhaps irrelevant (about R3,5m, thanks for asking). But if you, dear reader, are spending in this category of the market, then you have already done your sums. Custodians of the Lamborghini operation in SA, LSM Distributors, availed us the keys to a demonstration model of the Urus. Rather appropriately, it had Italian registration plates — SA was the latest stop on its global rounds. The model first made its local appearance in 2018. This week national media members had a chance to report back after an official driving event.
By now you are probably quite aware of its familial roots. Yes, the Urus has kinship with the likes of the Volkswagen Touareg, Audi Q7 and Q8 fraternal twins, Porsche Cayenne and the Bentley Bentayga. Perks of being under the wing of the monolithic Volkswagen Group.
As you would expect, the division represented by the disgruntled bovine mascot has managed an exquisite job of repurposing those core ingredients. Not that the basic, ready-made mix was poor to begin with: the earlier-mentioned products are well-received by shoppers in their respective classes. Look, people, this is how the automotive world works in 2020. Synergies, joint ventures, acquisitions — that is the nature of the beast.
Hopping into the Urus, overlooking the obvious Audi shared services (key included), you will appreciate the sprinkling of bespoke, Italian idiosyncrasies. The buttons on the upper section of the central fascia, for example, seem to be imprisoned by elegant slivers of metal. And the elaborate, machined sculptures that double up as toggles for the terrain modes and driving settings err on the fiddly side.
Luckily, unlike us motoring scribes, the Lamborghini customer demographic is not made up of pedants obsessed with nitpicky details. These are, if the advertisements are to be believed, flamboyant characters who suck the marrow out of life. And according to the company, the Urus is likely to be the first entrant to the brand for many buyers.
This is crucial to bear in mind. Do not expect the distilled essence of a 12-cylinder Aventador S, albeit with seating for four and a cavernous luggage compartment. Rather, the Urus trades on the sizzle reel of what the Lamborghini experience is all about: that boisterousness and charisma peppered liberally with a generic, proven foundation.
Just like its supercar sisters, the Urus is fired up by a starter button concealed with an aviation-inspired, flip-up lid. That prompts the 4.0-litre, V8, twin-turbocharged engine rambunctiously into life, before settling into an acceptably polite idling tone. Yes, even Lamborghini needs to adhere to emission and noise pollution regulations.
No point in rattling off about consumption figures. But we will talk about the sensation of momentum delivered by its 478kW and 850Nm. Fast, obviously, with a quoted 0-100km/h sprint time of 3.6 seconds. If you were to try the 0-200km/h dash, you could do it in as little as 12.8 seconds, where the Urus will keep going all the way to 305km/h, allowing that automatic gearbox to fully enjoy its eighth cog.
Truth be told, it never felt as ferocious or untamed as the promotional videos might have led us to believe. We were hardly exerting the workings of its three differentials. No, we were not blasting through the desert, throwing up sand and disturbing wildlife. Instead, we were briskly and comfortably dispatching a jaunt through the picturesque landscape of the Western Cape, with an imaginary family and holiday baggage.
Adaptive pneumatic suspension ensured that the 2,200kg Urus shifted its weight with alacrity, while rear-wheel steering made the narrower bits of our route less daunting. Not forgetting the stark benefit of easier manoeuvrability through the traffic circles of Century City.
And the title? Urus is derived from a breed of cattle, following the long-standing tradition of creations named after pedigreed bulls. But I think there was a simpler solution for this practical beast. They should have just called it the Famborghini. Thank me later, Mr Domenicali.