Lamborghini's 305kmh Urus is a car made for the track, trail and tarmac
Lamborghini's first SUV is made for the track, trail and tarmac The Lamborghini Urus comes with a 4-litre turbocharged V8 engine, allowing it to despatch the century sprint in 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 305kmh. PHOTO: LAMBORGHINI

A sportscar brand spawning a sport utility vehicle (SUV)? Been there, done that - Porsche led the way when it launched its Cayenne in 2002.

But when a supercar brand enters the fray, expectations are raised. Because it is one thing to produce an SUV with some semblance of performance, but quite another to create an SUV that is also a supercar (loosely defined as a vehicle with a top speed in excess of 300kmh). The latter is akin to making pigs fly.

So when Lamborghini announced five years ago that it would make an SUV, the world waited in anticipation while purists waited in fear.

The wait is over. Lamborghini has finally unleashed the Urus. At the launch event in Rome, the Audi-owned Italian marque announced that 68 per cent of customers who booked an Urus were new to the brand. And the average age of these newcomers were up to 10 years above the average age of a typical Lambo buyer, which is 40 to 45 years old.

The purists' deepest fear, then. Surely a car for drivers too old to get in and out of a low-slung Huracan or Aventador cannot be very sporty.

Well, a few laps at the Vallelunga race track 20km from Rome proves that this fear is largely unfounded. Yes, the car does not have the tarmac-kissing centre of gravity as its siblings, but thanks to technological wizardry, the Urus acquits itself extremely well.

A 4-litre turbocharged V8 - a first for Lamborghini - endows the 2.2-tonne SUV with supercar-like credentials, allowing it to despatch the century sprint in 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 305kmh. Its peak torque of 850Nm arrives at 2,250rpm, with immense shove accessible in a seamless fashion thereafter.

While all-wheel-drive has been a Lambo characteristic, the Urus channels as much as 87 per cent of torque to the rear axle and 70 per cent to the front to help it cope with challenging ground conditions.

A short sprint around a gravel track proves less unwieldy than you would expect of a vehicle the length of a Mercedes-Benz S-class.

But it is on the race track that the Urus proves to be most impressive. You hardly feel its plus size as you blast it through the legendary Autodromo Vallelunga, a 4km wrench-shaped circuit.

The car traces the racing line drawn by a pace car (also an Urus) with amazingly little effort. Its massive standard-issue ceramic brakes have no problem shedding speed for even the third, sixth and seventh turns. These corners are insane because they are not only sharp, but they also follow long straights which allow the car to attain high speeds.

But between pure friction provided by its massive Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres and a battery of electronic dynamic aids, the Urus finds its way each time with practically no fuss.

Even when the car is carrying a tad too much speed into a turn, the combination of rubber and semiconductor genius saves the day - but not without a whole lot of howling from the Pirellis.

The car's proportions help too. At 5,112mm long, 2,016mm wide and 1,638mm tall (with a 3,003mm wheelbase), it is the widest and lowest among luxury SUVs.

The car has all-wheel-steering, which shrinks its massive length and wheelbase; active damping to help cope with changing surface and driving conditions; active torque vectoring to distribute up to 75 per cent of torque to each wheel on the fly and active anti-roll bars.

The last feature is interesting because, unlike a mechanical equivalent, it has a small motor and a set of gears to apportion axle stiffness.

It is difficult to take note of contribution from each of these driving aids when you are in full flight, but it is even more difficult to imagine taking the Urus through its paces without them.

For all its brilliant hard engineering, there is no way such a big, heavy and tallish vehicle with such a long wheelbase can feel so capable and confident on a track. In this respect, the purists have nothing to fear. The Urus matches up far better than expected.

The roads around Rome are not exactly enjoyable. Hence the road test segment is short, but long enough to show that the car's air suspension is unable to filter out the ruts on some stretches. Having said that, it is far less punishing than what a sportscar would be.

Despite its long wheelbase, the Urus is not especially roomy. Rear headroom is adequate for short to medium distances, but is possibly a challenge over long hauls for taller occupants.

Still, you have to hand it to Lamborghini. As the first supercar SUV, the Urus fits the bill in the way it drives, the way it looks and even the way it sounds.