Lamborghini's new Urus is the world's fastest SUV

Lamborghini has revealed the world's fastest SUV, the Urus.

Capable of 305km/h, the new five-seater is claimed to be the world's first "super SUV", an effort to separate the off-roader from the horde of luxury and performance SUVs it will compete with.

To be priced from $390,000, the Urus will go on sale in Australia late in 2018.

Named after an extinct species of European bull, the Urus is a radical departure from the traditional Lamborghini.

It uses a turbocharged engine for the first time and weighs 2.2 tonnes, hundreds of kilos more than the supercars Lamborghini is known for.

Lamborghini chairman and CEO – and former Ferrari F1 team boss – Stefano Domenicali describes it as "a new breed of bull" and "a visionary approach based on the infusion of Lamborghini DNA into the most versatile vehicle, the SUV"

"The Urus elevates the SUV to a level not previously possible, the Super SUV. It is a true Lamborghini in terms of design, performance, driving dynamics and emotion as well as drivable every day in a range of environments," says Domenicali.

Lamborghini's next SUV

Rugged, utilitarian vehicles are nothing new to Lamborghini.

The brand was founded in 1948 producing tractors, something that continues to this day, albeit with no association with the cars other than the name.

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And in 1986 the brand released its first off-roader, the LM002.

Looking more like a military Hummer than anything from the company's sports car division, the LM002 was powered by the Countach supercar's V12 engine that could launch its aluminium and fibreglass body beyond 200km/h.

But the LM002 was more about off-road ability and was designed to go pretty much anywhere.

Just 300 were built, with production ceasing in 1992.

Powerful stuff

Lamborghini has long utilised naturally-aspirated V10 and V12 engines, something that power the current Huracan and Aventador.

They give that characteristic shriek and the instant throttle response Lamborghini strives for.

But the Urus is an indication that times are changing for the Sant'Agata manufacturer.

The 4.0-litre V8 is the same basic engine used in the Porsche Panamera and rival Bentley Bentayga.

But there is significant Lamborghini development to boost its output to 478kW and 850Nm.

That torque figure, in particular, is important for providing the low rev response buyers of big, heavy SUVs expect.

While some will relish thrashing their Urus, many will also want effortless response without having to drive it hard.

So, it's quick.

Teamed to an eight-speed auto, the V8 launches the 2200kg SUV to 100km/h in 3.6 seconds.

The dash to 200km/h takes 12.8 seconds and the fun stops at 305km/h, beating the 12-cylinder version of the Bentayga by 4km/h.

Look this way

Lamborghini is known for its dramatic wedge-like designs.

So, it's no surprise the Urus continues the shock factor with a nose inspired by the Huracan and Aventador.

But the further you venture to the rear of the aluminium-intensive body it's clear the demand for five seats and decent interior space – this is an SUV, after all - has challenged designers.

Sure, there are bold angles and rising windowline, as well as frameless doors for a hint of that sports car feel.

There's also hexagonal wheel arches inspired by the Countach, which itself inspired the LM002.

But the taller roof profile and hunched tail are not design cues usually associated with the maker of exotic Italian supercars.

Enormous wheels – the selection ranges from 21-inch units to 23s – and distinctive Lamborghini LED lights help ensure the car is part of the family visually.

Down and dirty

Lamborghinis are usually about race tracks.

But the Urus is geared up for life on rougher tracks.

As well as its raised ride height, the Urus gets a four-wheel drive system with specific driving modes for going off-road.

And there's some Italian flair to their designations.

As well as Strada (road), Sport and Corsa (track) modes, there is Terra (off-road), Neve (snow) and Sabbia (sand).

In regular driving the Urus sends 60 percent of its drive to the rear wheels and 40 percent to the front.

However, the active self-locking Torsen centre differential can apportion up to 70 percent of the drive to the front wheels and 87 percent to the rear.

Going fast

Despite the ability to venture off-road, don't expect the Urus to follow a Range Rover into the bush.

Its focus, after all, is about going fast, so there are compromises.

While it's not light by Lamborghini standards its 2200kg kerb weight is towards the lower end of fast SUVs.

It's also low-slung and there's also air suspension that allows the centre of gravity to be lowered further for sporty or high speed driving.

The Urus also borrows the Aventador's rear-wheel steering system, for better low-speed manoeuvrability and better high speed stability.

There's also torque vectoring, which electronically apportions drive between the left and right wheels for better traction and stability.

Lamborghini v Ferrari

The Urus could be just the ticket for accelerating Lamborghini sales past Ferrari.

Ferrari typically wins the sales race comfortably thanks to its broader range and more powerful brand, the latter a result of many factors, including a longer history and long running F1 program.

But in a world fast moving to SUVs – in 2017 SUVs have outsold passenger cars in Australia for the first time – the Urus is perfectly timed to take advantage of demand for versatility and a higher-riding look.

More importantly, the Urus will beat Ferrari's upcoming SUV to market.

Ferrari long said it would never produce an SUV, but the company has softened its stance throughout 2017.

Under pressure from shareholders keen to exploit surging demand for SUVs, Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne conceded the company is developing an SUV.

However, he refers to it as an FUV, or Ferrari Utility Vehicle, in an effort to separate it from the mainstream.

As for the Urus, Domenicali describes it as fitting "perfectly within the Lamborghini family as a high performance car. It is the culmination of intensive development and passionate skill to create a new breed of bull: a Super SUV that transcends the boundaries of expectations and opens the door to new possibilities, for both our brand and our customers."