Opposite ends of the spectrum: Ford Puma ST vs Lamborghini Urus

I know what you’re thinking: we’ve lost the plot. It’s just not a fair fight, is it? I mean, how could it be? It’s like asking the well-meaning Old Boys squad from your local rugby club to play 80 minutes against a first-string All Blacks side. The result is only going to go one way, and in an uncomfortably brutal fashion. Yet there’s method to our madness here, because the Ford Puma ST and the Lamborghini Urus have more in common than a 444bhp difference in power and £140,000 gap in price (you could buy nearly six Pumas for the cost of one Urus) would have you believe.

You see, these two are essentially the bookends of an increasingly popular genre: the super-heated SUV. It’s obviously not a new concept (Porsche has been at it for the best part of two decades now), but in recent years we’ve seen an explosion in their numbers, to the point that the majority of new ‘driver’s cars’ launched these days take their design cues from rutted tracks as much as race tracks. Hell, so strong is the apparent allure that when Seat’s hot halo brand Cupra went its own way, its first offering wasn’t a pocket rocket or a sports car but an SUV.

Believe the hype and these cars serve up a multitasking approach to motoring, their Swiss-army-knife-on-wheels shtick promising both thrills on the road and more than a modicum of go-getting, adventure-seeking character that traditionally tuned tin boxes don’t have the ground clearance or go-anywhere gumption to deliver.

So this is both a straight headto-head and an exploration of the wider impact of such cars. You might be appalled or perplexed by the seemingly never-ending appetite for SUVs or unable to shake off the belief that anything with so much extra heft and height can ever raise smiles and spirits when you’re in the mood for going hard and fast. But do these prejudices marry up with reality? Time to find out.

On looks alone, both of our contenders play on their rough-andtumble influences. The pugnacious Puma’s muscular transformation is particularly effective, its 19in alloy wheels and subtle ST add-ons giving it a more squat stance than the standard car, even if the decision to colour-key the usually grey plastic wheel arches makes it look more like a slightly taller family hatchback than a true crossover.

Either way, it’s dwarfed by the look-at-me ostentatiousness and tape-measure-stretching dimensions of the Urus, which commands attention everywhere it goes. The Giallo Auge yellow paint plays a part, but even if it were finished in ignore-me grey, this vast and angular Lamborghini would have a magnetic effect on eyeballs. Love it or loathe it, there’s no arguing with the high-riding Italian’s towering kerb appeal.

Height, of course, is one of the big draws of cars like these, their increased elevation offering drivers a panoramic vista (and a sense of superiority) plus a clearer picture of the road ahead – something that’s especially useful when it’s unfamiliar. You certainly sit high in the Urus, but while you do look down on other road users, you do so through a letterbox-shaped viewfinder, the low, coupé-like roofline robbing you of some of the usual visibility benefits of a big SUV.



Put all this to one side for a moment, however, and despite wildly different prices and performance, the Ford and the Lamborghini share the same capacity to entertain when you’re in the mood. More than that, they’re good enough that any praise no longer needs to be caveated with the words ‘for an SUV’. Along with cars such as the Cupra Formentor and Volkswagen T-Roc R, they prove that some quick SUVs have evolved (highly so in the Urus’s case) to the point that they can be mentioned in the same breath as more established practitioners of the fast car art.