5 Italian SUVs That Show What Happens When Sports Car Makers go 4×4

The Italian car landscape is littered with awesomeness. From the weird Lancia Stratos of the 1970s to today’s hot Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Alfa Romeos, and Maseratis. All of those companies have their roots in racing and they carried that ethos into making street cars that are just as much at home on the track as they are (mostly) on the afternoon commute. But Italian manufacturers aren’t forgetting about making some weird, insane, awesome, good selling, and other superlative-ridden SUVs. Here are five SUVs that could only come from Italian manufacturers.

The Lamborghini Urus was NOT Lambo’s first SUV

The ultra rare red Lamborghini LM002 Italian SUV at a press event.
Lamborghini LM002 | Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

You probably know that the Urus wasn’t Lamborghini’s first SUV. The weird LM002 looks like an AMG Hummer, but an AMG Hummer that you drive with string-back gloves and loafers. It was launched in the 1980s and as such quickly earned the nickname the “Rambo Lambo” for its tough looks, four-wheel drive, and for its 5.2-liter or massive 7.2-liter V12 engines. But it was an anomaly for Lambo even then: LM002s came with full leather, power windows, A/C, and a premium stereo. Those were options that were considered the ultimate of luxury in 1986. Though it was designed as a military vehicle, most have now found homes in private collections as an example of what happens when a supercar manufacturer makes an off-road animal.

The Lamborghini Urus is more than the sum of its parts

A blue 2022 Lamborghini Urus is parked.
A blue 2022 Lamborghini Urus is parked | Lamborghini

What happens if you take an already-amazing Audi Q7, rebody it with something that looks like a UFO, and pump up the twin-turbo V8 to 641 horsepower? You get the Urus. Of course, it’s a $218,000 exotic SUV. But, for that money, you get to 60 miles per hour quicker than a Countach or Diablo could ever dream, and you can take four friends with you. The Urus will top out at 204 miles per hour, which not that long ago was $1 million Bugatti territory. Today’s Urus shows that we are living in a golden age of SUVs, when they can be stylish, fast, comfortable, and yes, even reliable.

You can get a Ferrari V8 in the Maserati Levante

The 2022 Maserati Levante shows off as a performance SUV.
2022 Maserati Levante | Maserati

Maserati went through some tough times in the 1980s. It made some terrible cars like the Bi Turbo that are only now seeing their renaissance. But in the 2010s the company had a bit of a resurgence and started producing coupes and sedans with V8s made by Ferrari. That’s right, with the same V8 you can get in a 488 (mostly). Then, Maserati decided to make an SUV. The Levante is not designed to drive off-road, but it can sprint from 0-60 in 3.8 seconds. It’s nearly as quick as the Urus, but starts at $84,700 for one with a V6. Maserati says it has perfect 50/50 weight balance, and it has all of the luxury goodies and driver aids of most other SUVs in its class.

The LaForza was a one-off Italian SUV in the 1980s

A dark-blue 1998 Laforza Magnum Edition in a parking lot by a forest
1998 Laforza Magnum Edition | David Scrivener courtesy of RM Auctions

The Laforza (or sometimes LaForza) is weird. Very weird. And, you could buy one in the U.S. in the 1980s. It’s what happens when you ask the guy who designed the DeTomaso Pantera and some Ferraris to design and Italian SUV that competes with Range Rovers. But instead of the Rover’s questionable V8, these came with the same 5.0 motor as Mustang GTs or a supercharged GM V8. They were built in Cherasco, Italy, and then completed in Brighton, Michigan. Though they weren’t fast, or even that capable off-road, but they were opulent. Laforza finished the interiors in just as much wood and leather as a contemporary Rolls Royce. Strangely, there are still some Laforzas on the road.

Ferrari hopes to set a new super-SUV standard with the Purosangue

A red Ferrari Purosangue SUV concept could be the ultimate Italian SUV.
The Ferrari Purosangue SUV | Ferrari

Ferrari is, of course, known for making its amazing street cars. Enzos, Boxers, the La Ferrari, and the F40 and F50 certainly set the supercar and hypercar standard for the last 40 years. But now Ferrari is stepping into the super-SUV, or hyper-SUV, world to make the ultimate Italian SUV, its new Purosangue SUV. The name means “pure-blooded,” like a racehorse, and it reportedly will have a massive, powerful, and melodic V12 in the front. It’s likely to be based on the grand touring Roma, but be taller, seat four or five adults, has all-wheel drive, and have enough room to carry enough luggage for a ski trip at your favorite Swiss chalet.

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