2023 Lamborghini Urus S Review

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Our first drive of the new Lamborghini Urus S ahead of its Australian launch shows it sits in the sweet spot between performance and practicality.

With the introduction of the hairy-chested Urus Performante, you might wonder why anyone would take a second look at the more conservative Urus S model. No other car company has a reputation for wild designs and intoxicating driving experiences like Lamborghini, and the Urus S seems a bit contradictory at first glance.

The Urus S is effectively the replacement for the standard Urus which now receives its first variants almost five years after it went on sale. That’s not too surprising considering the Urus is the Italian brand’s biggest seller and a key component to Lamborghini’s record growth this year.

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It makes sense then that Lamborghini hasn’t fiddled around with the Urus too much for what is essentially the facelifted model and arrives in Australia next year. The visual tweaks consist of a new front end design with a pointier bonnet line and more aggressive front bumper. Like the Performante, the S gets a body-coloured, carbon-fibre bonnet, while there’s the option of a matt black finish for the new vents.

The carbon-fibre roof can also be visible or painted, depending on how important subtlety is to the customer. The rear bumper has been tweaked as well, with a new exhaust tip design and air vents behind the rear wheels – which come in 21, 22 and even 23-inch sizes.

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Our test route involved both city driving and more open country roads in Denmark, and while the purple Huracan STO we were following understandably garnered more attention, the Urus S still got its fair share of smartphones pointed at it – which is no doubt an important part of Lamborghini ownership.

Starting from $409,744 before on-road costs in Australia, the Urus S sits comfortably below the $465,876 Performante, despite sharing the exact same engine. Under the bonnet there’s the twin-turbocharged, 4.0-litre V8 that appeared in the old Urus (along with various Audis, Bentleys and Porsches), but now it produces 12kW more at 490kW, while torque stands at a chunky 850Nm. The Urus S accelerates from 0-100km/h in 3.6 seconds and tops out at 306km/h – quite significant numbers for a car weighing 2197kg.

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The way the Urus S delivers its power is sensational and there aren’t many other SUVs that offer this amount of drama. The Strada driving mode is all well and fine when you’re cruising (which the S does just as well as any Audi Q7 or Porsche Cayenne), but if you shift to Sport there’s less delay in throttle response, while the exhaust note – which Lamborghini has retuned – is addictive as you climb through the revs.

Surprisingly, this power is still manageable on the road – such is the availability of torque. The automatic eight-speed ZF transmission is quick enough in its shifts (thankfully the Urus uses steering wheel mounted manual paddles rather than the Huracan’s fixed ones) and of course switching to Sport or even Corsa sharpens up the shift times. Most Urus S owners will probably keep their car in one driving mode, which is good because the actual shift mechanism on the centre console feels and sounds a little flimsy, you also have to scroll through all six of them (there’s also Terra, Neve and Sabbi off-road modes) to select the mode you want.

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As we’ve said, the Urus S performs well in a straight line in spite of its weight and in the corners it’s more engaging than you’d expect. Plenty of confidence can be gained from the quick steering which is a little light for a car of this size and weight, but there’s lots of feedback from the front axle. Active torque vectoring through a revised rear differential and four-wheel steer work towards giving the Urus S a slightly rear-biased feel through tighter corners.

The enormous 440mm diameter carbon ceramic brakes on the S are excellent with progressive feel despite offering immense stopping power. On the more track-focused Performante there’s stiffer steel springs which help it sit 20mm lower than the S – resulting in a slightly firmer ride on the road. For Australian roads the standard-fit adaptive air suspension of the S is more suitable.

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Flick back to the more sedate Strada mode and the S is comfortable and surprisingly quiet if you lay off the throttle. There’s cylinder deactivation technology on board, which helps to provide a combined economy figure of 14L/100km, although doesn’t enhance overall refinement. Most of the noise transmitted to the cabin comes from the huge tyres, until you inevitably succumb to temptation and blip down a gear or two in Sport or Corsa mode.

Just like the exterior, the interior of the Urus S is a little more reserved than the Performante. Of course, you can customise the colours of the leather through Lamborghini’s extensive Ad Personum options list, but overall it’s a welcoming, premium-feeling interior with a sense of solid build quality – the design of the vents and switches are a little busier than its German siblings, however.

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Even though it’s a Lamborghini the Urus S is also a big SUV so there’s practicality in the shape of a cavernous 661-litre boot, and there’s easily enough room in the back for adults to be relaxed on a long trip.

Noticeably cheaper than the Performante, the S is our favourite in this new-look Urus range. It still has the theatre you expect from a Lamborghini in terms of performance but it also delivers as a family SUV. With these two distinguishable models to choose from, the Urus should be more popular than ever.

2023 Lamborghini Urus S specs

Model: Lamborghini Urus S
Price: $409,744
Powertrain: 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged V8
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Power/torque: 490kW/850Nm
0-100km/h: 3.5 seconds
Top speed: 306km/h
CO2/economy: 320g/km, 14L/100km
On sale: 2023 (Australia)

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Our first drive of the new Lamborghini Urus S ahead of its Australian launch shows it sits in the sweet spot between performance and practicality. With the introduction of the hairy-chested Urus Performante, you might wonder why anyone would take a second look at the...2023 Lamborghini Urus S Review