Lamborghini's new Urus could have what it takes to beat Ferrari

It's almost as heavy as a Toyota LandCruiser Prado and powered by a Porsche-developed V8, making the Urus arguably the least pure Lamborghini in the brand's history.

But that won't stop the 305km/h high performance SUV from being a sales success.

Early orders for Lamborghini's first proper luxury SUV – remember, it also produced the military-focused, Hummer-like LM002 in the 1980s – suggest 70 per cent of buyers will be new to the brand.

Its aggressive, angular styling tinged with practicality could also appeal to more women than any of the wedge-like supercars the brand is known for.

Head to head

With the lure of rear doors, back seats and a sizeable boot Lamborghini expects the Urus to double its sales globally.

In Australia, that should be enough to propel the Italian brand past its closest rival, Ferrari, especially when you consider Aussies love SUVs almost as much as Americans.

In 2017 local Lamborghini sales dropped slightly to 127 cars for the year. Ferrari sales grew in 2017 to 210, a local record.

Selling field

If Lamborghini manages to double its sales it's conceivable it could sell upwards of 250 cars, which could be ahead of Ferrari.

Not that it's a target, according to the area manager for Oceania, Andrea Ruggiero.

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"For sure, we're going to have … at least a similar size [to Ferrari]," says Ruggiero, adding the brand is committed to doubling its volume.

But he dismisses the Ferrari target.

"It's not a matter of a race between us," says Ruggiero.

Not-so-friendly rivalry

Ferrari and Lamborghini have long had a fierce rivalry, dating back to the 1960s when Ferrucio Lamborghini tried to give Enzo Ferrari advice about his cars.

In the past, some Ferrari people have been known to joke that Lamborghini makes great tractors, referencing the brand's early years as a manufacturer of farm equipment.

But Lamborghini will have won one race with the Urus – the race to produce an SUV.

Not that Lambo refers to it as an SUV; in an effort to separate it from mere Porsches and Mercedes-Benzes, the company calls it an SSUV, or super sports utility vehicle.

Ferrari is also trying to avoid the SUV tag, with reports it could call its upcoming high-rider an FUV, or Ferrari utility vehicle.

An SUV by any other name

Whatever the name, the formula is familiar: utilise an engine and underbody bits from other cars and pop them in a practical four-door that sits higher off the ground.

That means more weight and a higher centre of gravity, two things that go against the ethos of a purebred sports car.

The head of research and development for the Urus project, Riccardo Bettini, describes it as "very high" and "very heavy" – at least compared with other Lamborghinis.

Get low

By SUV standards it's comparatively low-slung. Considering its performance, its 2.2-tonne heft is below that of key rivals.

For Lamborghini, the solution to the SUV conundrum was technology.

The Urus is the first car in its fleet to utilise active stabiliser bars, which allow a press-of-a-button change to the driving dynamics and comfort, depending on the terrain.

There's also adjustable height air suspension and torque vectoring, which can send more drive to the wheels on the outside of a corner, with the aim of improving steering feel and cornering pace.

Fast is good

With a top speed of 305km/h it's claimed to be the fastest SUV on the planet – for now, at least.

It can also accelerate to 100km/h in 3.6 seconds, which is quick – and matches Lamborghini's slowest sports car, the rear-drive Huracan Spyder.

And Lamborghini is preparing for an SUV lap record at the famous Nurburgring race track.

"Being faster is very important," says Bettini.

Who has the power?

But he says having the most power isn't crucial.

With 478kW the Urus is hardly undernourished, but it's outdone by a Jeep - the upcoming Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, with 522kW from its old school 6.2-litre supercharged V8 - which also beats it to 100km/h by one tenth of a second.

Price wise

Priced from $390,000 (plus on-road costs), the Urus is a comparative bargain in the Lamborghini showroom.

Despite getting more metal and seats than the lower-slung Huracan, it's only $10k more expensive.

Plus, it picks up rear doors, a gruntier engine, adjustable height air suspension and four-wheel drive.

Blame the apparent disparity partly on popularity; with shared parts and a higher production run Lamborghini can amortise the costs over more cars.

Know your audience

It also needs to play where the market is.

Supercar makers know what people are prepared to pay for fast toys, but executives acknowledge the Urus is the first Lamborghini that will likely be used as a daily driver by many owners.

So, practicality is a big part of the sales pitch.

It's also likely to be judged more pragmatically by shoppers who can also look to Bentley, Porsche, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi for an exciting SUV.

Needless to say, the Urus is a very different Lamborghini.

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