Grab the Bull by the Horns: Lamborghini Urus meets Ducati Multistrada V4 S in Sambhar Lake
12 years ago, two OVERDRIVE hacks hit the Jaisalmer highway in two epic vehicles. One was the Audi R8 and the other, the Suzuki Hayabusa. They were the fastest vehicles we could lay our hands on at that time. Of course, the choices were limited back in 2010, but India was gaining a lot of attention because people had spending power and so automotive manufacturers did offer some audacious vehicles like the R8 and the Hayabusa.
The highway to Jaisalmer, whether you started off from Jodhpur or Jaipur was one of the three fastest roads there were in the country, the other two being the Mumbai-Pune expressway and the Ahmedabad-Baroda expressway. This was not a dual carriage back in those days. Large sections of it still aren't, but it was damn near the smoothest tarmac you could find anywhere in the country, and it stretched for miles. A perfect complement to the R8 and the 'Busa. Roaring past the sand dunes and those flat empty stretches of land in both those vehicles was something we never ever dreamt would be possible.
Bull Run: Lamborghini Urus
Text: Bertrand D'souza
Time however brings change. Fast forward to a decade from then and we now have even more ludicrously powered vehicles, that are also capable of doing so much more. And by so much more what I am hinting at is that the Lamborghini Urus and the Ducati Multistrada V4 S, aren't just fast on tarmac, they are fast even off it! So off we went, Rohit and I, not in search of the perfect strip of tarmac, but an open space of land minus tarmac! He on the Multistrada V4 S and me in the Lamborghini Urus, steeds that are fast everywhere.
The Sambhar lake is India's largest inland endorheic lake, which means that though there are five rivers that flow into this lake, there is no outlet besides evaporation. It is an area much like the Rann of Kutch - wet during the monsoons but flat, arid and hard during the summer months. Once the water evaporates, the surface is hard enough to drive on, fast. We've driven here before, but never in something as outrageous as the Urus, or as mental as the Multistrada V4 S.
When Lamborghini signed off and put the Urus into production, they knew that they had a winner on their hands. Just how big a win, was unprecedented. The Urus, drawn up in conjunction with Audi, was the first SUV from the Italian marquee. Both are experts in all-wheel-drive technology. Where Audi employed it in all of their cars and SUVs, Lamborghini only had, at any given point in time, just two supercars, and both had all wheel drivetrains. Then came the SUV, and it was the perfect package to exploit all of their all-wheel-drive expertise. You now had a super SUV that wasn't just fast on the tarmac, it could also go places where tarmac hadn't been laid. People don't usually take their Urus off-road, you wouldn't if you had to pay well over Rs 6 crore for it. But the point is that the Urus can. And for the first time in India, we brought the Urus to an off-road playground unlike any other. The Sambhar salt lake near Jaipur!
The Urus comes with an optional off-road package which has six driving modes in addition to the standard three. All of these reside within ANIMA, an acronym for Adaptive Network Intelligent Management, Lamborghini's proprietary drive selector system. Three of these modes are focused entirely for road and track. On this drive though our focus was on the three off-road modes which work when you get the off-road package. These are named Sabbia, Terra and Neve. The first, Sabbia, is ideal for sandy or loose gravel. Terra as the name suggests is when you want to hit trails and Neve is for extremely slippery conditions experienced on snow and ice. In either of the off-road modes, the traction management system employs different rules of engagement based on the driving mode selected, though one element is a constant. The adaptive dampers raise the body up to the maximum, giving the Urus 248mm of ground clearance. This is 35mm more than what you get on an Urus without the off-road package. This also raises the approach angle to 27.9 degrees with departure angle also increasing to 28.3 degrees.
Flip the ANIMA lever to the required drive mode, in our case we left it on Sabbia, and you immediately notice the Urus raising the body height. It also utilises an engine map coded for off-road use. The code controls the flow of power to all four wheels and also manages how the suspension, brakes and traction control systems function. In off-road conditions, the Urus keeps a firm grip on understeer, and you will see the ESP indicator on the instrumentation light up indicating its been switched off. Torque is split between front to rear wheels in a 40:60 ratio but it can deliver up to 70 per cent torque to the front, or up to 87 per cent to the rear.
Those numbers are intense, but it all gets left in the dust when you smash the throttle pedal to the floor and feel the rear wheels spin, grab for purchase and propel you forward. The lake bed is a hard surface, but there is a layer of compacted dust that sits about an inch thick on the surface. The surface offers little purchase, and the rear tyres which are more attuned for tarmac cleave through the powder, throwing it up in a thick cloud. The electronics on the Urus are sharp, but they are also literally faster than a bolt of lightning. Minor electronic corrections still seep in, as the torque vectoring driven through a rear differential manages torque distribution to all wheels. You still need to dial in a minimal amount of steering input and modulate the throttle as the big hulking Urus finds the purchase to see the rev needle hit the redline in a matter of seconds. The Urus is fast on tarmac, with a claimed 3.6s to a 100kmph from standstill, and on dirt you'd think it would be slower. Not so much! The acceleration would be off by a second, maybe two at best. The two massive turbochargers feed the twin bank of cylinders with a mighty woosh, as it gathers steam. Those four, five seconds in your life simply take a pause, there is just so much happening, your mind cannot process it all at once and shuts down.
It is a highly meditative moment. You're lost in time and space and your mind has tuned out everything. And then there's this rush of speed so intense you're left gasping for breath! Your subconscious motor functions take over. Your palms grip the steering wheel harder and your vision locks on to the road ahead. But somehow, your foot stays planted on the throttle pedal. Driving this SUV is a mad rush of dopamine! You just want to keep doing it again and again and again. And then the corner you identified looms up ahead, the photographers and video jocks have all stopped breathing. Slight jab of the brake pedal to shift the weight to the front, back off, turn in the wheel and then back on the throttle, hard! And the Urus pirouettes like a lithe ballerina in perfect sync with the symphony!
It is hard to describe just how easy it is to keep this SUV in step, its gargantuan size and weight defy physics. Of course, the loose surface helps, those fat Pirelli P Zeros help, those adaptive dampers help, the active anti-roll bars help, but it's all beyond belief! The tail power slides out, if this were a director's cut, it would be perfect. You dial in short bursts of correction to the steering wheel, keeping it opposite locked for as long as you can hold it. Thankfully this is a massive lake bed, there is enough space to move in any direction without hindrance. And the magic of the Urus happens. It's a perfect shot, a perfect moment in time, one that has long been coming!
The Brother from Another Mother: Ducati Multistrada V4 S
Text: Rohit Paradkar
From the moment I saw the Urus being lowered from the flatbed to the sand clouds it kicked up on the salt flats, only one thing ran in mind - I'll probably not look as cool on the Multistrada V4. It's to do not with this motorcycle's capacities, but mine. Sliding this beast of a Ducati on the salt, or ploughing through the powered sand with its tarmac biased tyres wasn't going to be easy. But Ducati like its siblings at Lamborghini, have mastered the witchcraft that is the new-age electronics. The Urus' torque vectoring is quite sophisticated, yes, but Ducati's job seems much harder - put the power down only to one wheel and still catapult the motorcycle from standstill to a tonne in under four seconds, irrespective of the terrain.
Sure, it doesn't kick up a rooster tail with its road-biased rubber, but it is astonishing to see and experience the Multistrada's new V4 motor gush with energy even with the traction control light beeping faster than the rider's heartbeat. It takes a certain degree of skill and a lot more gut to race this Italian against its four-wheeled compatriot through the ripples in the sand. We call them sand snakes for a reason, taking the rider off-guard and forcing a 200+ kilo motorcycle to change directions as it were tumbleweed. But this kind of terrain truly establishes the bond between man and machine. You become one unit that is shifting weight to counter the effects of the sand, the motor functions on the body and the engine reach equilibrium and you emerge at the imaginary finish line feeling rewarded for having made fast approaches without ever hitting the ground or grounding the vehicle.
That sense of achievement feels a little bit more celebratory with the sound of the Gran Turismo V4. On the tarmac, it plays a high-pitched symphony akin to a race machine as it reaches speeds beyond 250kmph, but on the sand, the song sounds unlike anything else as you give those short bursts of throttle to keep the dance alive.
And it's not just the song and dance and sets the new Multistrada apart from its peers. Like its four-wheeled siblings, it now has some of the most advanced safety systems at work too. Hit the tarmac and a slew of electronics will ensure that motorcycle stays on its intended line through a corner, or let the front wheel lift nice and tidy to keep the photographers happy. But when doing the more mundane tasks of touring on the highway or commuting in the city, it has new radar-guided tech that enables an adaptive cruise control or warns you of other vehicles behind you with blindspot assistance that lets you cut in and out of traffic in a safer manner. Make use of these electronics to your advantage and you have a truly do-it-all motorcycle - one that can tour like a bagger, accelerate like a rocket, corner like a sports bike and yet ride to the top of a cliff or to the core of a sandy lake bed to enjoy that perfect sunset.
Photography: Anis Shaikh
Starts Rs 3 Crore
Starts Rs 2.55 Crore
Starts Rs 18,99,000
Starts Rs 16,40,000