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Lamborghini's best-selling Urus just got an S upgrade, with more power and tweaked looks. Don't expect subtlety

There is a delicious irony about our first drive in the Lamborghini Urus S happening in Qatar. In the wealthiest country per capita in the world, Qataris aren’t actually that interested in the S, the new ‘base’ version of the Lamborghini Urus. They’re all about the Urus Performante. Because if you’re going to buy a family car (and that’s what it is out here, even with the S’s £188,000 starting price), then you might as well get the top one.

Overall, Qataris have embraced the Urus with gusto, earning it a healthy market share. And offering a more powerful starting point into the Urus range will hardly hurt Lamborghini. What’s staggering isthat even these punchier versions don’t cannibalise sales off the Huracán and Aventador super-sports cars. The SUV is simply an additional purchase, such is the rarefied world of the Middle East.

The Urus S gets a reworked version of the bi-turbo V8 that appears in everything from the Bentley Bentayga to Porsche Cayenne, this time producing an additional 16bhp to take it to 657bhp and 627lb ft. Don’t tell the locals, but that’s actually exactly the same power as the Performante.

13 Lamborghini urus s side action

There’s a retuned exhaust and some front and rear styling tweaks. The S also has a matt black stainless steel front skid plate, designed to match the grille, and a carbonfibre bonnet with optional body-coloured or carbon vent surrounds. (Plain black is standard.) Again, whisper it to the locals: the Performante has a carbonfibre bonnet. At the rear, the bumper has been tweaked, with more matt black parts lower down and a new exhaust tip design.

More personalisation options are now available and Lamborghini is heavily pushing its Ad Personum programme, where most of the world’s colour palette is open to customers. Inside, there’s a newstitching pattern with fresh leather colour options, while drivers can choose from Bi-colour Sportivo or Bi-colour Sophisticated seats.

In the least surprising news of 2022, given the power upgrade, the Urus S is a mighty fast car, to the point where no 2.2-tonne machine really has any right to be. And yet the impressive thing is how benign it can feel. No Lamborghini is subtle but it’s not tricky to thread it gently through a city centre.

8 Lamborghini urus s headon dash

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Drop it into Sport mode and the exhaust takes on a more aggressive note that’s only added to with all the popping and banging on the overrun. We criticised the exhaust note as being overly digitisedand not that charismatic when we originally road tested the last ‘normal’ Urus, but it feels less so now. It doesn’t seem to be as forced.

One annoying character flaw remains, which is that you can only scroll through the car’s set driving modes (Strada, Sport, Corsa, Sabbia, Terra and Neve) in order. So if you drop into Sport for a B-road, you then have to cycle through five more to make the car more manageable for urban spaces.

There is active torque vectoring via the rear differential, so that the car feels really keyed into the Tarmac in tight turns with far more bite and aggression than you might think, also assisted by thefour-wheel steer. You’ll get higher cornering speeds in a Performante (wider track, higher downforce) but if normal roads are your thing, the S is more than enough.

Same goes for the ride quality. Disclaimer alert: the roads in Qatar are incredibly smooth. So despite our car’s whopping 23in wheels and low-profile tyres, I never felt a whisper of suspension wobble. I had a brief go in the Performante and that was much stiffer (coil springs versus the S’s standard adaptive air suspension) so the S is probably the one to go for in the UK. It feels like it could be better at the dual-purpose role of the everyday sports SUV, albeit if it’s only really in Qatar that it could be classified as ‘everyday’.


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michael knight 11 December 2022

What a vulgar motorcar. The kind of thing you see crawling along in Knightsbridge or Mayfair. 

jason_recliner 24 December 2022
It's so funny when english people say something is vulgar, as if their taste is not at all subjective and somehow superior!
Boris9119 10 December 2022

Piers might want to get out and about a bit more. The Urus is pretty common in my area and many others in the USA, and like in the Middle East they are used as daily drivers. Agree with Piers, the S is better than a Performante as a daily.