Lamborghini is being hailed as the first supercar manufacturer to introduce an SUV with its exciting new Urus, but many have forgotten that this is not the company’s first product in this class.

Back in 1986, Lamborghini launched the LM002, a vehicle that’s now all but forgotten, other than for being one of the least attractive SUVs ever built. The huge, bulky, LM002 lingered in the company’s lineup for several years, but never sold well and was rarely seen. The new Urus is a very different take on the SUV theme, although Lamborghini has said that some design inspiration was taken from the LM002.

Many will ask how Lamborghini acquired enough SUV know-how to build a vehicle like the Urus, but it’s worth remembering that the famed Italian automaker is part of the VW/Audi group and thus has access to some of the best all-wheel drive technology in the world. Expectedly then, the Urus drew technology from a wide range of products built by the group, including the Audi A8, Bentley Bentayga and even the Porsche Cayenne.

While no SUV could look anything like the Lamborghini sports cars we’re used to, the Urus is certainly very easy on the eye combining a relatively sleek profile with a low-slung, aggressive appearance. It’s about as good as a high-performance SUV can get and promises to stand out even among increasing numbers of rivals.

The standout feature of this rig is its staggering performance and its claim to be the fastest SUV ever built. A twin-turbo V-8 endows the beast with a whopping 650-horsepower, fed to the wheels with an 8-speed automatic transmission. To keep all that power on the road, as well as fulfil its off-the-beaten-track aspirations, the Urus has full-time all-wheel drive and Pirelli P Zero PZ4 tyres.

Test times at the track have confirmed that the Urus has suspension to match its remarkable power levels, so this super-SUV should be safe as well as speedy wherever you choose to drive it. Among other major safety features8 are standard carbon-ceramic brakes rather like the ones you might find on a Le Mans racer and probably just as powerful. The Urus has been extensively evaluated under the most demanding off-road conditions, though in all likelihood, few owners will expose it to much serious rough stuff.

The cabin could be described as ‘classic Lamborghini with off-road elements.’ The layout is fighter jet rather than SUV and Lamborghini fans will love it. The driver can choose from six drive modes using a small shift lever. Modes are available for various types of terrain and adhesion conditions. The interior is beautifully trimmed with lots of leather and other premium materials and there’s no question about a superior ambiance. There are variants with four or five seats, so buyers have a choice there.

There’s no doubt that this new Lamborghini will find a place in the hearts of upscale SUV fans everywhere. There is no shortage of high-end products in this market from makers like Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW but there’s nothing with quite the same performance credentials as the Urus. It’ll hold that ‘fastest SUV’ title for quite some time, but no doubt Ferrari will take a good run at it with its upcoming Purosangue.

ENGINE: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V-8, 650-horsepower.

TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic.

ACCELERATION: Zero to 100 km/h in 3.6-seconds.

TOP SPEED: 305 km/h.

I LIKED: Unbelievable levels of power, handling and braking. Very attractive styling that’s managed to retain the Lamborghini DNA.

I DIDN’T LIKE: Very costly of course, but for a thrifty buyer, Audi’s top-of-the-line SUV might well be a worthy alternative.

MARKET ALTERNATIVES: Bentley Bentayga, Rolls-Royce Cullinan, upcoming Ferrari Purosangue and Aston Martin DBX.

WHO DRIVES ONE? Owners of Lamborghini sports cars like the Aventador and Huracan will flock to buy the Urus. Buyers who just have to have the sportiest SUV on the market regardless of price. Converts from high-end Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz rivals.

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY: Available now at around €200.000.