The Urus is the first V-8–powered Lambo since the Jalpa left production in 1988. But while the Jalpa’s 255-hp 3.5-liter V-8 was an independent Lamborghini design, the Urus is a product of the Volkswagen Group and leverages the assets of the massive corporation. So the Urus’s engine is a 641-hp version of the twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 used in high-end Audis, some Bentleys, and the Porsche Panamera. Lamborghini vaguely claims that demon tweaks including specific cylinder heads have been applied, but the V-8 is assembled at a Volkswagen plant in Hungary and shipped to Lamborghini as a complete unit.
It’s not as charismatic as the Huracán’s V-10 or as intimidating as the Aventador’s V-12, but the hungry Hungarian V-8 under the Urus’s hood defines the vehicle’s character. Lamborghini has fitted it with an exhaust system that burbles with menace even at idle and snarls ferociously under load as it approaches its 6750-rpm redline. The twin-scroll turbos between the cylinder banks endow it with low-end thump unlike any previous Lamborghini’s engine (they’ve all been naturally aspirated until now). There’s 627 lb-ft of torque between 2250 and 4500 rpm—and plenty below and above those points—so the eight-cylinder endows the Urus with a responsive muscularity that’s as mesmerizing as a Lamborghini engine should be. Even though it grunts unlike any previous Lambo engine.
Hexagons dominate the Urus’s dashboard with aviation-style controls. Does the start button really need to be under a red flip cover? And the shifter is a big handle that simulates a jet’s throttle and is framed by smaller Tamburo levers, the left one for selecting from up to six Anima driving modes—Strada (street), Sport, Corsa (race), Neve (snow), and the optional Sabbia (sand) and Terra (off-road)—and the right side activating the customizable Ego mode. Think of it as Jungian on the left and Freudian on the right.
A lot of the interior is pure exotic-car theater, but it’s from the driver’s seat that the Urus feels most like other Lamborghinis. Yeah, you’re sitting upright and relatively high, but it’s easy to suspend one’s disbelief and pretend that the engine isn’t in the wrong place and that there aren’t three too many apertures. Surrounded in contrast-stitched microsuede and carbon fiber, it’s as much X-Wing fighter as family hauler.
And compared with basically any other SUV, this is a blisteringly fast beast. Lamborghini claims that zero to 62 mph takes only 3.6 seconds and that the Urus will reach a top speed just shy of 190 mph, which makes it the fastest production SUV on the market. The Tesla Model X ran to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds in our testing, but the Model X is limited to a 130-mph top speed—the Urus beats that by 60 mph. And shouldn’t top speed be the criterion by which all crossovers are ultimately judged?
Equipped with the optional 285/35R-23 front and 325/30R-23 Pirelli P Zero rear tires and running in the aggressive Corsa mode, the Urus has grip that seems to go on forever, right up until the moment it doesn’t. During a few proctored laps around the Vallelunga circuit outside Rome, the Urus’s steering was impressively quick, and the nose would turn in sweetly. But burn into a corner a little hot and the nose will push. Lamborghinis aren’t supposed to understeer in our book.
Racetracks are great fun, but the Urus is more impressive on the road, where it lopes along feeling understressed and composed, if stiffly sprung. At a cruise the exhaust nicely quiets down, the transmission heads for a high gear, and engine speeds drop to barely above idle. Lamborghini has built long-legged tourers before, including the 350GT and the Espada, and in an oblique way, the Urus represents a return of those cars’ long-lost talents.
Beyond that, the Urus also brings back some of the ability of the legendary LM002 SUV that Lamborghini built in the late 1980s and early ’90s. The Urus is nowhere near as narrowly focused as that raw off-roader, but the new model was easy to hustle around a small dirt course set up outside Vallelunga. Moab and the Rubicon may still be beyond it, however.
Few of us will ever drop the more than $200,000 required to procure a new Urus. But Lamborghini occupies an outsize part of the collective enthusiast soul. If the Urus succeeds and allows the company to create more spectacular machines as it stares down the electrified future, it will have served all our dreams well—and will have done for its maker what the Cayenne (and now the Panamera) have done for Porsche.
A Lamborghini is a Lamborghini because Lamborghini says it is, yet it’s tough to imagine any teenager having a poster of an Urus up in their room. But it’s easy to imagine their very rich parents having a real one in the garage.