The Urus’s handling character presents itself to you in layers. At first, you’re pleased to find that a car so tall and heavy, with the Urus’s extra-high performance level, grip level and response rate, can be so easy to engage with. Surprisingly light at the wheel in Strada mode but also wieldy-feeling and manoeuvrable, the Urus makes itself very unobtrusive to simply potter about in.

Get up to everyday travelling speeds and you access the next layer of its dynamic identity, where the car surprises every bit as vividly for its fleet of foot and agility as it does for its sheer straight-line grunt. Around tighter bends and junctions, the crisp instinctiveness and keen precision with which you can guide the car really are striking; a step above even what most performance SUVs at lower price points can do.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
Out-lapping a lower, lighter Merc-AMG GT63 isn’t a bad way for a fast SUV to impress. Lambo felt as fast through the faster bends, and quicker still down the straights.

Body control can be adjusted through three particular adaptive damping settings using the dedicated Ego (read custom) driving mode. It’s always impressive for lateral control, so you rarely get the sense that roll will be allowed to figure at all as part of the car’s cornering composure, let alone penalise it. Vertical tautness is quite marked at all times, and makes for ever-present composure on better surfaces, becoming slightly reactive over uneven A- and B-roads – but smoothing out nicely and becoming more fluent as you add a bit of pace and switch to the firmer damping modes.

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The last layer of the car’s handling repertoire is only accessible on a track – and preferably one with plenty of room for experimentation. Here you feel as if you have to overdrive the Urus slightly to get peak grip, performance and poise; and, with so many active handling and drivetrain systems in play, you’d be lucky to realise exactly when you were about to ask that bit too much of the tyres or chassis. Here, the Urus feels a bit brutish – and it falls short of the last word in truly absorbing handling balance, adjustability and control feedback.

But just witnessing the sheer pace, grip, cornering stability and handling composure that something so large and heavy can generate will still make your eyes pop out.

It isn’t great at making plain exactly how it’s clinging on so hard – but you do wonder if, with so many active chassis systems in play, clearer communicative facets wouldn’t actually make handling less natural, and the car less drivable overall at the limit of grip, rather than more so.

The standard carbon-ceramic brakes offer good bite and a level of retardation that didn’t deteriorate much during our circuit laps. Grip is evenly distributed and turn-in remarkably sharp, so that you seldom miss an apex on a balanced throttle even at really high pace. Pick up the power early when cornering and there’s only a limited amount that you do to adjust the car’s outbound cornering attitude, though – as well as only a slightly filtered and vague sense of the grip level remaining at each axle.

COMFORT AND ISOLATION

The Urus adopts a different ride and handling compromise than most fast 4x4s; so much we’ve already described. Few will be surprised to read, then, that it doesn’t have the capacity of an Audi Q7, a Bentley Bentayga or a Range Rover to throw a silken blanket over the road surface, or to take its occupants to a level of on-board luxury they might find in a big car with much less sporting priorities.

As we’ve already detailed, the car’s ride is certainly more than averagely comfortable, even over quite tricky B-road topography. But its clever anti-roll bars, dampers and air springs aren’t clever enough to prevent a little bit of head toss at times – particularly in the softer damper modes, or when you’re perhaps under-utilising the capacity for outright body control that’s bound up in the suspension.

The ride seems a little bit noisier than the luxury SUV norm, owing to those 22in alloy wheels and the relatively firm load pathways through which the vibrations they make can travel up into the cabin.

Interestingly, though, it was a factor that didn’t show on our noise meter – according to which the Urus generates 65dB of cabin noise at 70mph, which is precisely as much as we recorded in both a Bentley Bentayga and an Audi SQ7.

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