How Lamborghini learned to love the SUV

The Lamborghini Urus sport utility outsells everything else Lamborghini makes and has drawn droves of new customers to the brand better known for sports cars shaped like shards of glass.

Supercar purists have severely criticized SUVs the incursion of sport utility vehicles into their beloved brands. But the Urus shows that even buyers of high-end exotics find SUVs irresistible.

The 2021 model year Urus starts at nearly $220,000, a very high price for an everyday family vehicle. That is really what the Urus is meant to be — a Lamborghini someone can drive every day and use like the countless SUVs that now fill up segments in the middle of the auto market.

The vehicle's specs and reviews of the Urus both indicate the vehicle is impressively versatile. It can drive 0-62 miles per hour in 3.2 seconds — remarkably fast acceleration for any vehicle, never mind an SUV. And it is built to handle like a proper sports car on a racetrack. But Lamborghini also equipped the Urus for off-road driving — something Lamborghini isn't known for.

But while some have said the Urus could be the ultimate all-around vehicle, there are some that have criticized its design as departing too far from the sleek and jagged shapes that have made Lamborghini famous. The Urus has also upset some sports car purists, in the same way Porsche's SUVs have.

Some supercar makers remain on the sidelines of the SUV craze. British maker McLaren is one such company, saying it doesn't need an SUV to remain profitable. Other companies have apparently given in after some reluctance. For example, Ferrari is reportedly working on its own SUV, after years of internal resistance.

The Urus and its success are signs Lamborghini is becoming something of a different company from what it has been for most of its history. It now has to survive in a market where sales of sport utility vehicles have dramatically risen. In the premium and super-premium segment alone, SUV's went from just under 12% of total global vehicle sales in 2000 to 50% in 2020, according to LMC Automotive.

Decades ago vehicles such as the Jeep Cherokee, Ford Explorer, and Toyota RAV4 began bringing the sport utility vehicle concept to the masses. Now high-end makers, including some that have been resistant, are seeing the way the market is going and deciding not to fight it. Often trends trickle downward from the premium segments to the mass market, said Jeff Schuster, president of global forecasting for LMC Automotive.

"Now we're seeing that reversal where the mainstream trend has led the premium brands to introduce the SUV into their market," he said.

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