You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
"Merry Christmas," motorsport presenter turned Giltrap Group head of communications and public relations Shaun Summerfield says with a grin, as he hands me the keys to a Lamborghini Urus.
Although this Monday morning perk-of-the-job has dream-like qualities, Summerfield is actually there, bearing a solid resemblance to the jolly man in a red suit and the Lambo is most definitely real. All $380,000 worth of bright yellow, luxuriously Italian, futuristically-styled beast of it.
"It’s a monster," Summerfield cheerfully proclaims and with the spec sheets giving the Urus the same colossal output as a V8 Supercar, I’m willing to believe him.
Powered by a twin-turbo V8, this is no ordinary SUV. It pumps out 650hp and has a top speed of 305kmh. Unfortunately, during my drive from Highlands Motorsport Park to Queenstown, I didn’t get to test this fun fact but I did get to drive a Lamborghini. Life goal: tick.
Although my Urus was the first of its kind in the South Island, there are about eight dispersed throughout the North Island and there are another 28 on order, according to the Giltrap Group’s marketing coordinator Jordan Darrow.
He and Summerfield were on a three-town roadshow with $4 million worth of supercars in tow. Queenstown/Cromwell was first on the itinerary, followed by Christchurch and Wellington.
The plan was to show the cars to the public so they could drool over them and offer test drives to the lucky few who had a spare couple of hundred thousand to buy them.
Starting at $340,000 without any extras, the Urus is the cheapest of its marque and probably the most practical.
Also part of the roadshow was the aggressive Aventador. It packs in nearly another 100hp and is the essence of thoroughbred, low-slung Lamborghini — complete with the archetypal scissor doors.
Prepare to part with another $300,000 for it though and have difficulty entering or exiting it elegantly.
There were gentlemanly Bentleys, McLaren masterpieces and James Bondish Aston Martins all vying for attention but I picked the Urus out of the super car crowd.
Having not driven many Lamborghinis in my time (i.e., zero) I confess it took me some time to figure out which of the knobs, dials, buttons and levers actually got the great hulking thing going.
Summerfield made it clear in no uncertain terms that damage to the Urus would damage his employment prospects. So, it was with thrilled trepidation that I crawled out of the Highlands car park, throttled hesitantly towards the left-hand turn to Queenstown and then stamped my right foot to the floor.
Way too few seconds of unadulterated joy later — 3.6 to be precise — I hit the speed limit and the crouching tiger prowling beneath the Urus’ bonnet curled back up and purred.
I knew it was there the whole way but only had limited opportunities to unleash it in all its visceral, bury your spine in the seat — 478kW of power and 850Nm of torque — glory.
Mostly I appreciated the suave interior, classy as only the Italians can be and the soft-cushioned cocooning that comes with cabin interiors riding on 21inch tyres.
I did nearly choke when I glanced at the fuel consumption which hovered between 14-litres to 15-litres/ 100km then quickly remembered I wasn’t filling this thirsty puppy up. I guess if you can fork out for a car that costs the same as a house in some still-affordable parts of New Zealand then you are not worried about exorbitant fuel bills.
While super luxury SUVs will not feature at the New Zealand Endurance Championship at Highlands next Saturday, super fast cars will be there in abundance. I’m looking forward to watching them being driven on the track, the way they can’t be driven on public highways.
Like many Kiwi rally fans I’ll also be keeping an eye on Hayden Paddon competing in Rally Australia this weekend and hoping he repeats his 2017 podium. As for what next year holds for our WRC driver, nothing is confirmed. The rumour mill is in full swing but until Hayden makes his announcement, I won’t speculate.