2023 Lamborghini Urus S | PH Review
We're half a decade and 20,000 sales into the Lambo SUV era – time for the all-important refresh…
By Matt Bird / Thursday, 9 February 2023 / Loading comments
Once upon a time, a Lamborghini facelift would surely have ranked among the industry’s simpler jobs. Fettle the V12 for a few more horsepower, add some new purples to the colour palette, make the exhaust even sillier and – voila – another supercar icon. For the Urus, the job must be more demanding. As the first five-door, five-seat Sant’Agata supercar, usability can’t be sacrificed at the altar of even wilder performance; on the other hand, a car deemed insufficiently better would struggle to justify its position in a frenetic segment. Aston Martin already builds a more powerful SUV; Porsche has made one capable of a sub-7:40 Nordschleife lap. There is a Ferrari coming in short order. Lamborghini can ill afford to be left behind – the market is simply too lucrative.
Accordingly, there’s now a two-model Urus range for the very first time: the new Performante version for those that must have a record-breakingly fast truck with Pirelli Trofeo Rs on the options list, while the Urus S picks up where the old car left off, described by Lamborghini as offering ‘increased power combined with luxurious versatility and presence to confirm its status as the ultimate lifestyle Lamborghini Super SUV’.
Note there no mention of focus or grip or aggression – that can be left to the Performante. This means that what’s immediately apparent about the S – as was always the case with the Urus, to be fair – is its ease of use. It is a two-and-a-quarter-tonne, £200k+, 190mph Lamborghini, yet it remains no more taxing, no more stress-inducing, than a BMW X5. An X3, even. Thanks to an obliging automatic gearbox and responsive twin-turbo V8, it’s docile and easy to rub along. At launch, the Urus seemed pushy to the point of aggressive – and to look at it, you’d assume the attitude remains – but five years later the styling and on-paper performance belie a far more approachable experience from the driver’s seat.
The driving position is brilliant, the interior laid out smartly, and the build quality apparently unimpeachable. We probably shouldn’t expect anything less from a modern Lamborghini, though it’s surprising just how quickly the Urus S does a passable impression of sensible family SUV. Just don’t go any bigger than the 22-inch wheels fitted here (23s are on the options list) as that will likely give the air suspension too much to do in eliminating low-speed jiggle in a car this heavy.
Of course, the Urus S isn’t a sensible family car. But the fact that it can now do a convincing impression of one ought to endear it to its customers (especially as there’s something sillier above it for those wanting silliness). There are some cues to its Lambo-ness before going too fast, subtle things like a rear view that isn’t good enough (why would there not be a rear wiper?), a head-up display brighter, bolder and bigger than anything out there, plus drive modes that act more as personality transplants than mere enhancers. If you think Lamborghinis should be over the top to the point of anti-social, rest assured that the SUV-shaped one can do that.
Lambo boasts of a ‘sharper note in each drive mode’ for the retuned exhaust, and it’s no exaggeration to say that the Urus S sounds borderline illegal in its most aggressive Corsa setting. The twin-turbo V8 booms and thunders its 666hp out, sounding like the sky is falling in behind its four tailpipes. Perhaps it isn’t the most tuneful noise ever made, but the seismic impact is beyond doubt. It’s fierce and ferocious in best Lambo tradition, turbos whistling and V8 bellowing; Strada feels like switching Creamfields for a carol service immediately after, though might offer the most authentic representation of what’s going on. Sport is quite nice for playing the high-rise GT3 racer.
As always with a modern Lamborghini, however, there’s quality underneath the melodrama. The gearbox feels like it’s from another century compared to the DBX, and this twin-turbo, 4.0-litre V8 is perhaps even sharper in its reflexes than that twin-turbo, 4.0-litre V8. The most powerful SUV in the world the Aston might be, yet the Urus certainly never feels any slower, anywhere and anytime. It puts 666hp to devastatingly good effect, always ready to nerf the horizon one more time with that freshened-up front end, optional bonnet vents and all. All of these MLBEvo monster trucks, from RSQ8 to Bentayga S to Cayenne Turbo GT, feel supremely fast; the Urus S, as every Lambo ought to, feels even more rapid again. Another 16hp is hardly a lot extra when kicking off with 650hp, but it is more. And in Lamborghini world, more is obviously better.
That mantra sort of extends to the driving experience, too. It’s possible to detect traits here familiar from those related SUVs, albeit cranked up to the max. The active anti-roll that keeps the Audi so spookily flat is even more effective, the Urus only ever really pitching at all if standing on the mighty ceramic brakes, and the rear-steer that transformed the agility of the Bentayga gives the impression of a V8 Lamborghini hot hatch, so incisive are its direction changes. In fact, it is a testament to the car’s driver-mode bandwidth that everything can be slackened off enough to permit cruising for mile after effortless mile.
To that end, the Ego switch remains an easily configurable and very useful individual setting, with even the most aggressive steering and suspension modes just about tolerable. Purely in terms of dynamic latitude, the Urus S might be the most impressive of all the MLBEvo contenders, now challenging the more luxurious for calm on-demand, yet still capable of mind-bending performance that defy its size the rest of the time. The Performante on trick tyres would absolutely give the Turbo GT’s 7:38 a run for its money.
Nevertheless, it remains true that the Urus isn’t the most gratifying or invigorating SUV to drive fast. The investment made in the uber Cayenne’s suspension hardware created something that could convince you it was cut from the Porsche GT cloth, from the response of the steering to the control of its mass – and it is those nuances of feel and feedback that don’t quite measure up in the Urus. Similarly, it lacks the DBX’s caddish sense of humour, driving like a very fast and fearsomely adept four-wheel drive car, rather than a 700hp sports saloon in the wrong body.
Will Urus customer mind? Probably not. Evidently, the formula has struck a chord with the buying public, and Lamborghini’s latest meddling leaves it entirely intact. By adding just a bit more power and a dollop more drama, from the fresh look to the outrageous sound, Lamborghini will be confident of retaining its new customer base when it comes to trade-in time as well as tempting a few more in besides. And while cars like the Urus S will remain anathema to the Lamborghini purists who like everything to be below waist height, the updated version is probably the most rounded model ever offered by the brand. With just a bit more silliness on top. Don’t be surprised if another 20,000 go very quickly indeed.
SPECIFICATION | 2023 LAMBORGHINI URUS S
Engine: 3,996cc, twin-turbo V8
Power (hp): [email protected],000rpm Torque (lb ft): [email protected],300-4,500rpm 0-62mph: 3.5 seconds Top speed: 190mph Weight: 2,197kg (DIN, without driver) MPG: 20 CO2: 320g/km Price: £182,851.20 (price as standard, taking car price of £152,376 plus 20 per cent VAT; price as tested £237,358.80, taking optioned price of £197,799 plus VAT. Options are Red calipers for £893, 22-inch diamond finished ‘Nath’ wheels for £3,562, Rear Lamborghini logo in high gloss for £262, Bonnet air vents in body colour for £301, Body colour Style Package for £2,549, Black Chrome Exhaust Pipes, for £780, Black anodized aluminium inserts for £447, Floor mats with leather piping and double stitching for £487, Optional stitching on steering wheel for £293, Embroidered Lamborghini shield for £674, Big Interior Carbon Package – Shiny (!) for £5,513, Optional stitching for £625, Bicolour Sofisticato Leather for £4,133, Lower leather package for £2,175, Upper leather package for £2,475, Panoramic roof for £2,279, Fully electric front seats with ventilation and massage for £2,296, Bang&Olufsen Advanced 3D sound system for £5,072, Ambient light package for £2,213, Acoustic and heat insulated glass for £749, Heads free tailgate for £585, Heat reflective windscreen for £282, Lamborghini Connect Vehicle Tracking for £1,051, Lamborghini ANIMA with offroad modes for £449, Park Assistant Package with Remote Park for £2,506, Sunblinds package for £1,164, Garage door opener for £268, 22-inch Pirelli P Zero tyres for £1,339)
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