Lamborghini Urus SE First Look: What Makes This Iconic Performance Brand’s PHEV So Special? 

Pundits said the Lamborghini Urus SUV couldn't live up to the legend. They were wrong. And now, with plug-in hybrid power and Max Performance, the iconic car brand proves them even more mistaken.

Lamborghini Urus Se Scotty Reiss
Lamborghini Urus SE> Photo: Scotty Reiss

We Climbed Inside to Find Out

When Lamborghini first introduced the Urus SUV, critics and pundits poo-pooed it. An iconic sports car can’t be turned into an SUV, they said. It could never go as fast, perform on a track or deliver a true sports car experience. 

But oh, boy, were they wrong. 

And this week, they were proven even more misguided. Lamborghini revealed the next iteration of the Urus, now with more power and speed and a little perk that will go beyond thrills for anyone who slips behind the wheel: Max Performance, a feature that takes this Lamborghini into stratospheric territory.

While the official reveal took place at the Beijing Auto Show last week, we got a peek in New York at Club Lamborghini, the brand’s dedicated space in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. 

During our sneak peek we were able to climb in and experience the entire car, powered but not growling—we weren’t allowed to ignite the engine—to see what this special SUV is all about. 

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The Jet-Like Cockpit In The Lamborghini Urus Se
The jet-like cockpit in the Lamborghini Urus SE. Photo: Scotty Reiss Credit: Scotty Reiss

A Plug-in Hybrid That’s All About Power—And a Bit of Electric Driving

Even though the Urus SE is a hybrid with a plug, the point of this car isn’t electric driving. Yes, you can technically drive it in electric mode if you’d like—it should have a range of about 35 miles (if you drive it reasonably)—but electric driving isn’t what this car is about. 

It’s about boosting the performance of the gas engine with a jolt of electricity. 

Electric is what the “E” in the car’s name stands for, and when added to “S,” the model’s top performance trim, it indicates that this is the most powerful Urus yet. 

The gas-powered twin turbo V8 engine generates about 600 HP, and is supplemented by the 25.7 kWh electric system that provides another 189 HP for a total of 789 HP. That’s good for a 0-60 MPH time of about 3.2 seconds. But that requires you drive the Urus SE in its most powerful mode, Max Performance. 

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Urus Performance Mode Gives An Additional 20 Seconds Of Max Performance
Urus Performance mode gives an additional 20 seconds of max performance. Photo: Scotty Reiss Credit: Scotty Reiss

Max Performance Means a 20 Second Boost of WOW

The Urus SE has 11 drive modes — yes, 11— but rather than tick through them all, let’s just jump to the top of the list with the most exciting one: Max Performance mode. 

This is achieved by putting the car in Corso, or track, mode and then shifting the EV drive mode selector to Performance. That gives you not just max power, front loading all 789 HP, but as you select that mode you’ll get a countdown clock on the driver display. And that means if you floor the accelerator, you’ll have 20 seconds of instant 789 HP. Hold onto your hat. 

If all that is too much to do at once, there’s a small button on the lower right side of the steering wheel with a stopwatch icon; just tap that and instantly you’re in Max Performance mode. Then floor it. It promises to be quite the thrill.

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The Lamborghini Urus Se Command Center And Yes, 11 Drive Modes
The Lamborghini Urus SE command center and yes, 11 drive modes. Photo: Scotty Reiss Credit: Scotty Reiss

Lamborghini Urus SE’s Other 10 Drive Modes 

Most cars can parse performance in four drive modes; Lamborghini, though, iterates every stage of driving in 11 modes, allowing drivers to really pick their performance. 

It starts with the traditional drive modes: Strada, Sport and Corso (street, sport and track); then, as an SUV, Lamborghini added Sabbia, Terra and Neve (sand, off road and snow). These modes are found on the mode selector on the left side of the command center. 

Just to the right of the start button and gear selector is the EV mode selector. You can drive in EV for all electric, or with the Urus in Strada mode, you can select Hybrid, Recharge or Performance. Hybrid is exactly that: the Urus will use both power and gas for the optimal performance. Recharge will allow the car to conserve and replenish the battery’s power by using only the gas engine and recharging the battery. Performance mode will use the battery to enhance the gas engine. And then, of course, there’s Max Performance. 

The Rear End Of The Lamborghini Urus Se
The rear end of the Lamborghini Urus SE. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A Best Seller Now Has More To Love

The Urus has been a runaway hit for Lamborghini, representing 60 percent of the brand’s sales and selling 6,000 units last year alone. So the brand was inspired to not just improve the power output, but step up its entire game.

On the outside, the Urus SE has a refined hood line that draws on the design of the Lamborghini Revuelto, the brand’s first plug-in electric hybrid. On the rear of the car there’s a new diffuser that incorporates the brand’s iconic hexagonal shape and frames the Y design tail lamps. 

Inside, the Urus takes a few cues from sister SUVs, Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q8, with a larger multimedia screen and more conveniences, including electric performance monitoring. And of course, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

In true luxury SUV fashion, Urus SE seats 4 or 5 passengers and offers heated and cooled massaging front seats. There is a panoramic sunroof and a nicely sized cargo area under the hatch, which, thankfully, has the option of a cargo management system to ensure groceries or luggage don’t fly around during the drive.

Rear seat passengers will be pampered a bit with climate controls, air vents and USB-C ports and buyers who want their littles to learn the thrill of Lamborghini driving will find two full sets of child car seat LATCHes. 

And why wouldn’t you? The magic of a sports SUV is that everyone, not just the driver (and maybe the passenger) get to experience the delight of a car that wows, on the track or just on the way to Target.  

Yes, It Feels This Great!
Yes, it feels this great!. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss