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2023 Lamborghini Urus
The recent movie, “Lamborghini: the man behind the legend” tells the story of Italian industrialist Feruccio Lamborghini’s attempts to get Enzo Ferrari to “fix” what Mr Lamborghini believed were problems with Ferrari clutches. After being told dismissively to go back to making tractors, Lamborghini famously started his own sports car company, which today, more than 60 years after that (possibly apocryphal) exchange, constitutes Ferrari’s most potent competitor.
So, after its founding Lamborghini Inc grew steadily over the decades, is still Italian owned, and now sells over 9000 vehicles per year at an average price of almost $300,000, right?
Um, no. The 9000/$300,000 part is correct, but in 1973, ten years after founding the company, Mr Lamborghini was forced to sell it, and Automobili Lamborghini SPA bounced around from marginal owner to marginal owner until it was finally rescued in 1998 by Volkswagen AG, which owns it to this day.
What Volkswagen brought to the table, in addition to financial stability, was access to Porsche and Audi parts, components, and platforms, which have enabled Lamborghini to produce vehicles cheaper and more reliably than they could have if they were a stand-alone company.
Which brings us to the 2023 Lamborghini Urus SUV, a triumph of platform sharing if there ever was one. Based on the Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q8 platform, the Urus shares its engine, transmission, and many other bits with the top-of-the-line Cayenne Turbo S and Audi RS Q8. That’s good because those SUVs are great performers, but it’s bad because the Urus is more German than it is Italian.
That doesn’t mean that the Urus as a vehicle is bad, nor does it mean that it’s not Italian (the Urus is manufactured in Italy). But it does mean that the Urus is quite different from its competitor from Ferrari, the Purosangue, which is smaller and sportier than the Urus. The Purosangue is also more “Ferrari” because it sports a true Ferrari V12 engine and transmission.
Keep in mind though, that the car gods giveth, and the car gods taketh away: MSRP for a new Urus starts at around $235,000 while a base Purosangue will set you back more than $400,000. Using Porsche/Audi parts allowed Lamborghini to keep Urus pricing relatively low.
For the record, the Urus is fast. Zero-to-sixty MPH takes just 3.1sec thanks to a 657HP twin-turbo 4.0L V8 engine, and its top speed is 190MPH. Naturally, fuel economy suffers: EPA estimates are 14MPG City, 19MPG Highway. I doubt customers will give that a thought.
Thanks to a design with many sharp edges and lots of angularity, the Urus definitely looks like a Lamborghini. In fact, with all of the “Lambo boi” design elements and a lower profile than its platform mates the Cayenne and Q8, this Lamborghini could never be confused with any other brand, even by non-enthusiasts.
Driving the Urus is a pleasure, mostly because you get lots of “Lambo-ness” without too much of it. Other reviewers have criticized the Ferrari Purosangue (which I haven’t yet driven) because it drives too much like a Ferrari sports car when SUV owners, even exotic SUV owners, want an SUV driving experience when they get into their SUVs, and that makes sense to me. If I owned a Lamborghini Aventador and bought a Urus SUV, I would want a less intense driving experience when I drove the Urus. Yes, I would value the “Lambo-ness” of the Urus’ design and interior, but I would appreciate its higher seating position, extra elbow room, and softer ride.
Speaking of the Urus’ interior, it is very Lamborghini. To start the engine you have to lift a “protective” cover over the red Start button—as if the Urus were asking, “are you *sure* you’re ready for this?” My test car was black over (very) red leather, which is classic Italian and quite fetching. In any other car, the bright red interior in my Urus would be too much, but in this SUV it works. In fact, a subtle exterior color over a bright interior is the best way to go in a Urus in my opinion.
Not surprisingly, the UI/screens/etc are very Volkswagen AG, and Porsche in particular. Yes, there are many Lamborghini-specific fonts and graphics, but if you own a modern Audi or Porsche you’ll be able to find your way around the Urus’ tech easily.
Of course, because of its slinky styling the Urus is less roomy than the aforementioned Porsche Cayenne or Audi Q8. Is it good for taking four adults out to dinner? Yes, but don’t volunteer to drive those same friends to a city four hours away. It won’t be a good trip for anyone in the rear seats.
The fact that the Lamborghini Urus SUV isn’t really a Lamborghini is a feature not a bug. In fact, its Audi-based engine and transmission make it a better SUV, which may explain the Urus’ popularity. I approve.