Only rebels need apply.
From farming machinery to the LM002 the Lambo badge has form away from racetracks, but does the new one live up to the promise?
Romanticising over the well-read story of an Italian with a tractor company having the gall to argue with the rulers of the racetrack, and as a result birthing a raging bull to fight the prancing horse would be doing this car a disservice. Yes, there were likely moments more fitting a montage of rebellion in those early days, but here today we sit at the table receding the fruits of their labour. We should then, enjoy them, rather than all stand around beating around the same story of how the roots began their journey. If this sounds a little flippant, then the car in question is ready for its segway.
It’s been two decades since BMW managed to pull off the unthinkable and make the off-road platform trickle over from mud to tarmac, only returning to the dirt if the level is flat and wet weather is long past the horizon. The sports activity vehicle, as BMW dubbed it, departed the Land Rover’s ball game and started a new one entirely. No more was it about a vehicle that could drive on the road, but be more than a match for the environment surrounding it. Instead, a car with road presence and the feeling of go anywhere took stage front and centre, the consumer rushed in, not so bothered about the fact that the performer’s voice couldn’t match the outfit. Manufacturers soon caught on and over time made cash cows of them. Porsche was quick to get in on the act, Aston Martin and Ferrari have held off as long as they could. Lamborghini joined them in holding back, not wanting to tread a path too distant from their more conventional offerings, or, possibly because the parent brand wouldn’t let them. The truth is a little muddy, pardons the pun.
In the sea of manufacturers that could claim some a big four-wheeler as part of their heritage and be unlikely to cause palpitations of an old guard of purists, Lamborghini was the one. The LM002 has its place in the history books, conceived because with Lambo’s it was always about standing as far out as possible. If the convention goes one way then they go precisely the opposite. Some of this has been brought into line under Audi ownership. Madness contained in today’s monicker, rather than batshit crazy of pre-millennium.
It is curious that with a VW parts bin to plunder and a market segment growth with no signs of hitting the brakes, the Urus has only recently joined us. Perhaps Audi’s previous-generation Q7 with its V12 diesel was seen as enough, or that the segment for hyper-powerful SUV’s was too small and dominated by Porsche with little space for contenders. Porsche would be keen to make sure that the parent to all these firms, VW, didn’t cannibalise their market by giving team bull a direct competitor.
Sadly, we haven’t been given another made LM002. There is nothing about the Urus that would make you question whether the local wealthy businessman has come to town or a paramilitary operation is in full swing. The blocky exterior of the old car gets a few nods with the Urus, but it is much closer aligned to an Aventador on stilts than a descendant of its only predecessor in the segment. Those that enjoy crisp turn-in will be relieved by this, the roll in the chassis is minimal and belies its size. They aren't apologetic at Lamborghini for making it this way either, there's no dusting off of some old company directive to justify its creation in the way Ferrari will have to. It’s impossible to say 'we’re only here for the money' even when everyone in the room knows it, but a tight line has been walked. The car is a proper Lamborghini and isn't left to the side of the showroom as an embarrassment to the brand that had to be built because shareholders demanded it, instead it sits proud, front and centre. This despite that we all know many of its parts trace their roots back to Ingolstadt rather than Sant'Agata Bolognese.
The Urus performs incredibly well on test. The visual drama isn’t quite matched by what’s under the skin, the 4.0 V8 is a firework with a powerful display of noise and speed but competition is stiff. Especially considering what else is available under the VW halo, Porsche, Audi, and Bentley all compete in the high end high powered SUV segment, then there's Audi with the RSQ8.
The BMW M5 or Audi RS6 would soon force a blue flag for a Urus.
In fact, writing about the Urus is rather challenging, admittedly a fast lap of a track or an off-road course would make for enough content to create a story, but it would feel forced. Occasionally cars need that, a new Ferrari needs to be experienced both on the road and the track to really unveil itself. The novella it creates with its driver during ownership being reason enough to not have to justify itself like any other purchase.
The Urus doesn’t really do that, when the Gallardo finally bowed out to make way for the Huracan there was a momentum to design. This was backed by the oily bits spinning behind the driver and theatre that played on demand at every push of the start button. Sure, it was no Contach, or Diablo, but the Aventador exists to fill those stretched boots.
Could the Urus be a compromise too far? The LM002 offered up its drama by being surplus to all requirements, it existed solely to be different. No great claims could be made that would stand up to rigorous testing, and that was fine. Its function was to appear able, if you lived in the Alps and genuinely needed to forge a river and take on a mountain to fetch a baguette, you weren’t aware of the LM002's existence. The Urus appears a little caught in between two worlds. It’s great on the road, but slower and less engaging than anything else Lamborghini will sell you, but maybe it is here that the Urus makes its greatest case. On a track, it will get walked past by much humbler opposition that hasn’t compromised itself with an additional few feet of vertical mass. The BMW M5 or Audi RS6 would soon force a blue flag for a Urus. However, this isn’t about raw speed or finesse, instead, just like the LM002, it is about a dramatic look that turns heads on the street and thunders past anything with a less dramatic appearance on a motorway slip road. The Urus is a big, thirsty, powerful beast with no real purpose except to look like it’s going 185mph even when stationary. Somewhere a concourse LM002 is smiling at its bloodline.