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Is the Lamborghini Urus any good at towing a Huracán?
Why put miles on your 640bhp roadster, when you can buy another Lambo to tow it instead?
Photography: Richard Pardon
Good for my fellow TG-ists, having such a load of fun with their on-track Top Trumping. But I’d actually have won by roughly 100bhp, enough to bruise their egos so brutally that I’d have felt bad. So I’m off to do something more real with the Lamborghinis.
A racing dinghy is technically a mode of transport, but no one uses it for that. A glider or a hot air balloon similarly. They’re about the recreation, not the transportation. Between the sailing and the flying, people tow them behind SUVs. A Lamborghini Huracán Performante Spyder isn’t any different. On paper it fulfils the technical definition of an automobile, but really as a form of transport it’s hilariously deficient in too many ways to list. But on the right road it will be recreation in excelsis.
That right road, the best in England for our purposes, is a loop around the North Pennines, through and above Teesdale and Weardale. Its width, the variety and frequency of its corners, their sightlines, the sparseness of other traffic, and the sheer jaw-dropping vistas when you can tear your eyes away from the next entrance to apex, those things are, to my mind, unmatched.
Five hours, most of it motorway, separates that road from the Top Gear office. Have you seen the Performante Spyder’s seats? Literally buckets. Arse-bruising, shoulder-cramping, fixed-back solid carbon-fibre buckets. The Urus’s, OTOH, are adjustable in a dozen-plus directions, and have massage. With radar cruise engaged at around the trailer speed limit, its engine is to all intents and purposes silent, some 90 per cent of its potential held in reserve (it has a dial that tells me this). The stereo, satnav and driver aids are all top-end Audi spec. Urus or Performante on the M1: really, what would you do?
Lamborghini’s people were reluctant to have us towing an open trailer. They thought it’d make the Huracán look like it was broken down. Well, I’d say if your breakdown service starts using Lamborghini SUVs as towcars, you might start asking questions about your annual subscription. Plus, we didn’t want to get ourselves scooped by going socially viral. Yet only one shot of our outlandish rig ever hit Instagram. It seems supercar bloggers spend their time in Monte Carlo and Knightsbridge, rather than Trowell Services on the M1.
Brian James’s T6 trailer is an awesome thing. For loading, its hydraulically tilting bed, and the Huracán’s nose lift, help us avoid splitter-scraping horrors. Its underslung wheels mean it’s no wider than the (already ridiculously wide) Urus, so I can be confident that when I’ve threaded the Urus through a gap, the trailer will follow without catastrophe. The masses involved are stomach-churning: we’ve got 1.6 tonnes of fuelled-up Huracán and 0.9 tonne of trailer to haul, plus the Urus’s own 2.2 tonnes. But it refuses to break sweat. Honestly, on the M1 we run an out-of-the-roadworks 40–65mph rolling-start drag race, and the 641bhp twin-turbo V8 still manages to outrun the photo team’s Jaguar F-Pace.
It makes quite the bellow doing that, but the rest of the time the engine falls to a murmur, and surprisingly the tyres don’t roar, either, so it’s an easy job for the B&O stereo to dominate. I could easily forget I’ve got the trailer at all. Except the sight of a supercar’s chuff filling my rear-view mirror never ceases to surprise me. (We loaded it that way round to keep the V10’s mass close to the trailer axles.) Picture too the double-takes of the folk who come across a yellow Lamborghini reversing at speed up the middle lane of the M1.
On the pretext of “What do SUV owners do with their SUVs?”, Top Gear briefed me to get in among the caravanning fraternity. I stop at the CAMC’s Teesdale site, where people are ridiculously magnanimous in view of the old enmity between us and their homes on wheels. They shriek in wonder at the yellow Huracán, but don’t notice that, as per the old bumper sticker, my other car is a Lamborghini. Once told, it too kinda bowls them over. I’d planned to erect my pathetic little ridge tent and stay the night here. But I also want to be up early to get the Huracán doing its thing on the moor above. A cold-start in either of these Lambos results in what we motoring writers are contractually obliged to call ‘an invigorating barrage of exhaust noise overlaid with a fusillade of pops and bangs’. At 5am this would be the rudest possible thing to do to a field full of people in thin-walled sleeping quarters trying to have a holiday. So we slink off the evening before and find a hotel.
It seems supercar bloggers spend their time in Monte Carlo, rather than Trowell Services
Early next morning, a layby on the B6282 is the gateway to the Performante. It rolls off the trailer, warms itself through, and sets off to do what it came for. There’s been a lot written about the fixed-roof Performante’s blistering track efforts, including a time around the Nordschleife that many people just didn’t believe. Its active aero obviously contributed. But at road speeds, other aspects of its make-up will add much more to the joy of living.
So I start off in y’know, Strada mode. Not even Sport and never mind Corsa. The engine, at first, is all. It’s an electrifying, affecting, unforgettable love song to natural aspiration. Lord, let’s not let that song become a lament. We can’t, can we, see the death of engines such as this? Pistons must be free to reciprocate at 8,500rpm, throttle butterflies to admit their air as predictably as atmospheric pressure dictates, and exhausts to remain untrammelled by the muffling and inertia of turbines. Lamborghini’s V10 has an instantaneous and infectious vivacity, even at low revs, hurling the car ahead through the mid ranges, and then, just at the point where your turbo-accustomed fingers are involuntarily moving towards the up paddle at 6,000rpm, this awesome unblown engine takes on a whole new magnitude of urgency and pelts onward. Only after another 2,500rpm of awe is its rabid energy finally bridled. Then you tap that paddle and the thing sawtooths on for another magical round in the next gear.
Corners are coming. Carbon-ceramic discs bite down on the speed, and the car dives in. It disposes of curves majestically, never losing its level or its tenacity. Oh, in a damp second-gear it’ll edge its tail out if you insist, but the drama is tidy. Mostly, it just grips, even at speeds where that aero can’t be doing much – and indeed the full asymmetric ALA is activated only in Corsa, a mode I don’t use because it tightens the dampers to an extent that this road won’t tolerate.
Corsa mode also quickens the actual ratio of the active steering, so your hands move through a lesser arc. But again I prefer the Strada mode. Its lower gearing means the disturbance of bumps won’t jostle your hands into unintended steering inputs. It’s like Ferrari’s racks were in the Nineties, and I remember them fondly. The Performante’s springing is supple enough to breathe nicely over this bumpy terrain, too.
Even beyond the drastic longitudinal and lateral g-loads, what makes the Performante such a vivid joy is its sensations. You touch the tyres, knowing how their grip changes as first the fronts, then the rears, negotiate a bump or dip, and the engine wires itself into your nerves and your cochlea. The roof is down too, for more sensation at every speed. The motion envelops me from every quarter.
I return, eventually, to a halt at our layby, if only to let my heart regain its composure. Seems fair to unshackle the Urus from the trailer and see what it makes of this road.
It too can be ridiculously rapid. It’s the fastest SUV sold anywhere. The mass doesn’t seem to impede its progress. By the magic of every one of VW Group’s chassis technologies, and one or two tweaks unique to the Lamborghini division, it manages to grip like crazy, roll very little, understeer not much at all, and ride pretty well. But, critically, it misses the intangibles that make speed thrilling. The steering and engine are muffled, the pedals indistinct in their answers.
Look, the Urus is ridiculously capable. At a motorway cruise, even with the trailer, it’s largely silent, abundantly luxurious and almost drives itself. It carries four people and their stuff over any terrain. And it’ll keep up with 99 per cent of sports cars in straights and corners. By any reasonable metric, the Urus can do anything.
But that’s the point. Lamborghinis are Lamborghinis because of what they can’t do. Can’t carry your kids or your stuff, can’t cosset you, can’t calm down, can’t compromise, can’t stop making demands. Absolutely can’t go incognito.
The Urus can. People didn’t spot it was a Lambo at all. It’s quiet normally, its note the soft, generic one of a V8 with 90-degree crank and turbos. Said ‘barrage of exhaust noise overlaid with a fusillade of pops and bangs’ is in truth wholly artificial, happening only on cold-start or in the aggressive button-modes. In contrast, the Performante’s engine is all character, all of the time. The shape of the Urus’s body has the same issue: largely a generic SUV in outline and proportion, with a load of falsified creases overlaid to get your attention. The Huracán has real Lambo proportions and so benefits from authentically calm panel surfaces.
The blue car is super-competent across a huge spectrum, yet I can’t love it. The yellow one is mostly pretty useless, but in its element it’s adorable. Still, today the first one has got us to the road where I drank in the second’s transcendent best, and for that I’m grateful to it.
Thanks to Jackie and team at the camc.com Teesdale site