The new Lamborghini Urus has polarised people on social media since its unveiling – while most people weren't really bothered by the idea of a sport utility Lambo as a concept, a production version either set pulses racing or caused faces to scrunch up in distaste. Whatever your thoughts on this “SSUV”, it's actually no softie – the eccentric Italian supercar marque was keen to display its apparent off-road prowess through press photos that show theUrus throwing up dirt and sand as it ploughs through slippery off-road terrain. With a 4.0 litre twin turbo V8 heart that develops 650 HP and 627 lb-ft of torque, the Urus certainly has the grunt to back up Lambo's claims of this being a “Super SUV”.
Whether it has the grunt or not isn't really the point, however. The real question lies in what changed in the automotive landscape to move the competition over sports cars into the SUV category. With each new concept, every new production ready model, it is becoming increasingly clear that the world actually has a place for SUVs made by traditional purveyors of the sports car – Bentley, Jaguar, Porsche, Maserati and now Lamborghini are adding to their ranks by funneling huge amounts of money into the development of SUVs and sporty crossovers. Why?
The roots of this change can be traced back to 2002, with the launch of Porsche's highly influential but uglier than sin Cayenne. That broad shouldered, awkward looking beast set the standard – the Cayenne Turbo is one of the first series production SUVs in the world to tout power figures as a unique selling point. Of course, actual enthusiasts avoided it like the plague, with most Cayennes snapped up by athletes and celebrities who neither took it off-road nor found the confidence to push it on-road.
What the Porsche Cayenne set off took about a decade to take hold. While Porsche introduced the smaller, more agile Macan, other sports car manufacturers were just about ready to step out of their shells and experiment. There was demand for the sporty SUV too – it offers people surprising utility, even more surprising performance and the high driving position makes drivers feel like kings of the road. But when majority of the owners would never use even half the car's abilities, you really do have to question if it makes sense on the part of manufacturers to indulge the whimsical demands of potential buyers. The recent flurry of activity in the SUV segment signals the start of a power war, to be waged in a similar manner to the supercar and hypercar's exponential growth over the past decade.
The Lamborghini LM002 was made in extremely limited numbers because oil sheikhs in the Middle East wanted a four-wheel drive Lambo they could take over sand dunes and drive over dirty peasants whenever they wanted. It existed as an icon of the 80s, a defiant symbol of Lamborghini's madness in the face of all logic and comprehension. The Urus, following the likes of the Porsche Cayenne, Bentley Bentayga, Maserati Levante and Alfa Romeo Stelvio, is no longer a torch-bearer of the wonderfully unique or ridiculous overkill. By merely existing in an SUV obsessed world, the Urus proves that Lamborghini has become common-place in its desire to sell mainstream cars to a mainstream public. The creator of the supercar has fallen far into the depths of consumerism, and the Urus, named after the large wild ancestors of domestic cattle, is their most shameful attempt at being mainstream yet.