Christmas time for me has always been about snowy mountains and sitting by a warm fire with a fine single malt. Well actually that’s not quite true, that’s more of the ideal. As an Englishman it was really about bleak London nights, horizontal rain and warm beer, but that’s another story.

Nevertheless, it was a paradox for me when I was recently invited by friends at Lamborghini to test their new Lamborghini Urus in the desert, the conundrum at hand was twofold – Christmas in the desert and an SUV from Lamborghini.

Winter in the desert is spectacular, clear blue skies, cool dry temperatures and long light that brings out the warm hues and dramatic contours of the mountains. The Urus is equally spectacular, with its aggressive stance and dramatic lines it combines the performance of a supercar with the comfort and practicality of an SUV. 

This, however, is not your typical SUV. In fact, Lamborghini has coined a new term referring to the Urus as the world’s first Super Sport Utility Vehicle “SSUV”. Lamborghini has always been an innovator and non-conformist and the Urus follows this tradition.

Lamborghini Urus Dynamic Launch in Palm Springs, California.

The design blends styling cues from the LM002, Lamborghini’s original off-road vehicle built for the Italian military, with iconic Lamborghinis of past and present with lines that evoke the Miura and ground breaking Countach with the modern day Huracan and Aventador. The distinctive silhouette and roof line make the Urus seem less like an SUV and much more like a coupe, which is surprising for such a big car.

Inside, the Urus is all business and feels distinctively Lamborghini, with the hexagonal themes beautifully and subtly integrated in the design elements. Italian style and craftsmanship resonate through the carefully created combination of Italian leather, alcantara, aluminum, carbon fiber and wood. The seating is low and supportive as you would fully expect and technology is seamless across the fully digital TFT displays with intuitively located switchgear.

The centerpiece of the cockpit is the ‘Tamburo’ driving mode selector on the center console that controls all the dynamic vehicle systems, which makes the Urus feel very much like sitting in the cockpit of a Jet, from the beautifully machined aluminum cover for the engine start / stop to the ergonomic levers for the ‘Anima’ and ‘Ego’ systems that enable the driver to select the vehicle driving dynamics. ‘Anima’ which is literally Italian for soul changes the entire personality of the Urus to switch between road, sport and track modes, as well as snow and sand. 

Flipping the aluminum cover and pressing start unleashes the 4.0-liter V8 twin-turbo engine for that was specially designed and built specifically for the Urus. In Strada mode the Urus is docile, comfortable and a real pleasure as a daily driver, however, switching into Sport and Corsa modes it transforms into an incredibly capable performance machine, with the sound you would expect from a Lamborghini.

I spent the morning putting the Urus through its paces at the Thermal Racetrack in Palm Springs. The combination of speed and agility is formidable and the Urus is an exhilarating vehicle to drive on track. The power seems limitless, delivering 650 hp at 6,000 rpm and an incredible 850 Nm of maximum torque as low as 2,250 rpm, the acceleration, grip and pull out of corners is exceptional. At 4,800 pounds the car is clearly not light, but it with the best weight-to-power ratio in its class it will accelerates from 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds, reaches a top speed of 190 mph and is the fastest SUV available on the market today. Carbon Ceramic Brakes (CCB) come as standard and are the largest and most powerful in class, bringing the car to a standing stop from 62 mph in just over 100ft.

The automatic eight-speed gearbox is tuned to provide very short low gear ratios for optimal acceleration and longer high gears for high speed at low engine revs for enhanced fuel consumption and lower emissions. The Urus also features 4-wheel steering introduced in the Aventador S, at low speeds the rear-axle steering angle is opposite to that of the front wheels for increased agility and a reduced turning circle. At high speeds the rear axle steering angle is in the same direction as the front wheels to improve ride, stability and driving dynamics. The Urus also features active torque vectoring via a rear differential, enabling propulsive power to be instantly distributed to each individual wheel for enhanced traction, depending on the driving mode, driving style and the road grip. 

After a fine Italian lunch, I had an opportunity to take the Urus into the desert. This is where the 850 Nm of Torque can really be felt. The Neve (Snow), Terra (off-road) and Sabbia (Sand) modes increase the ride height and the anti-roll bars enable asymmetric movement during cornering to ensure optimal traction. These adjustments transform the Urus into a very capable vehicle on a variety of mixed surfaces, it is grippy but with the power it is a huge amount of fun to play with the traction and drift across the sand.

Lamborghini Urus Dynamic Launch in Palm Springs, California.

Whilst the track environment is where the Urus really shines, it is unbelievably agile in a multitude of different environments and surfaces and it is very easy to forget that it is such a large vehicle, particularly when surrounded by the beautiful leather and alcantara of a luxury sports car. 

Lamborghini expect to double vehicle production with the Urus and after driving it you can see why. This car is reinventing the SUV category, it is as much at home on track, in the desert or on the daily school run. Lamborghini has created a multi-dimensional vehicle that is both daily driver and an exhilarating, formidable track machine. 

They have set the bar for the ultimate Super-Sports Utility Vehicle. 

For more information on the Lamborghini Urus click here

Images Courtesy: Lamborghini