Have you ever imagined what it would be like to drive on the moon or, say, Uranus? Given the impossible logistics of pulling this off (at least in the current era) — not to mention the inhospitable environment posed by their differing atmospheric conditions and gravitational pulls — it’s safe to say none of us will ever experience a road trip on either of these distant globes.
But then there’s Iceland. If you were blindfolded and airdropped there, you could swear you had been bundled off to another planet in our solar system. There’s an otherworldly majesty about its harsh, desolate landscape, formed by eons of intense volcanic and geological action. Where else would you find glaciers, lava fields, mountains and sand in a land mass that’s only about 20 per cent bigger than the UAE? The severe — yet strangely beautiful — landscape and conditions of Iceland partly explain why the country has a population of less than 350,000, making it the most sparsely inhabited country in Europe.
What are we doing here? Well, this scribe finds himself — along with 10 other journos from around the world — in the North Atlantic nation as part of a two-day Lamborghini expedition in which we’ll tackle a drive route along the southern coast of Iceland in a convoy of Uruses. Our plan is to make our way down from Reykjavik and then eastward towards Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe, covering eight per cent of the country’s land mass.
The offbeat road trip is an initiative hatched by the Bolognese marque’s PR folks to showcase the real-world usability of the Raging Bull’s brand-new uber-SUV. Unlike a conventional car launch, where motoring journos are shuttled in and out of an exotic locale for a brief thrash across hand-picked roads, on this occasion we’ll be covering almost 1,000km over two days. The route includes a couple of off-road excursions, and the Uruses are loaded up with all our luggage and paraphernalia — so it’s a pretty close approximation of a family weekend away.
The Urus is a major departure for a tradition-steeped Latin brand that’s forged its legacy on low-slung, ultra-focused supercars, but the massive global demand for SUVs means it’s an economic necessity. The Lambo purists may be up in arms, but the fact is that Urus will account for more than half of the marque’s annual sales from next year onwards. It will guarantee the ongoing financial viability of the company, while opening the brand up to a customer demographic it couldn’t tap into with a hypercar line-up comprising only the Huracán and Aventador.
A large, 2.2-tonne all-terrainer it may be, but the Urus doesn’t deviate too far from Lamborghini’s ethos of delivering eyeball-squashing performance. Yes, it can accommodate up to five occupants and stow 616 litres of luggage, yet the Urus can also leap from 0-100kph in 3.6sec and hit 305kph flat out. Read those numbers again for full effect. They almost don’t seem to compute, based on the laws of physics as we know them.
But it’s the Urus’s versatility and everyday liveability that this trip is meant to highlight, and the early signs are positive. Setting out from our overnight digs at the Blue Lagoon — a surreal, aqua-blue geothermal spa nestled in a lava field — the Urus is immensely easy to clamber in and out of (no gymnastics required), and there’s acres of sprawling space inside. So far, it’s poles apart from the Huracán and Aventador.
The contrasts extend further as we hit the rain-soaked roads. Where its supercar siblings telegraph virtually every imperfection in the tarmac to your spine and assault your eardrums with their loud yet melodious vocals, the Urus’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 is a stealthy powerplant that only makes its presence heard when you mash the throttle in ‘Sport’ or ‘Corsa’ settings, which are selectable via a drive mode switch on the centre console. Overall refinement and ride quality are up to the mark for a premium SUV, although the Lambo isn’t as cossetting as the more luxury-oriented Bentley Bentayga.
One of the highlights along our outward route is the town of Vik, where a beach of black basalt sand meets the remnants of the Reynisfjall cliffs that have been battered by the full force of the Atlantic. There’s no land mass between here and Antarctica, so the sea around here is wild and stormy — hence the monument on the beach to the memory of drowned seamen.
Volcanic mountains — more than 125 of them — are dotted all around the country, and a few of these are still very active. There’s another handful that could awaken from their slumber and become active as geological conditions in Iceland change over time. No doubt many of you remember Eyjafjallajökull, which erupted in March 2010 and wreaked havoc with air traffic over Europe as volcanic ash filled the atmosphere.
After a full day comprising more than 10 hours of driving, we arrive at our overnight halt at the Laki Hotel. Despite the long hours spent behind the wheel across a variety of winding roads and rocky gravel tracks, most of us still feel relatively fresh. This certainly wouldn’t have been the case had we been driving the more visceral, but also far less relaxing, Huracán or Aventador.
Suitably fortified and rested after a night’s sleep, we set out the following morning towards the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in the south-eastern quadrant of the island. Due to the stringent speed limits and constantly changing weather conditions that intermittently hurl rain and snow at us, opportunities to stretch the Urus’s long legs are few and far between. Even so, the Lambo’s musclebound 640bhp twin-turbo V8 enables the odd brief sprint to 200kph and beyond.
Arriving at Jökulsárlón is another surreal moment as it resembles a scene from a fantasy film. In fact, that’s not such a stretch of the imagination as it was used as a shooting location for the second season of Game of Thrones, as well as the James Bond blockbuster Die Another Day.
During the drive back to Reykjavik, there’s plenty of time to reflect on both the dreamlike beauty of Iceland, as well as the all-season, all-purpose capabilities of the Urus. Critics may well rant about the edgy SUV’s styling, or express their view that Lamborghini has “sold out” by straying from its supercar roots, but the fact is that the Urus accomplishes everything it was designed to do — very capably, too. And while the big Lambo may not have the wow factor of its low-slung supercar siblings, our Urus convoy still attracted camera-phone-wielding throngs wherever we went in Iceland. That’s pretty much all boxes ticked, then.