GWM Cannon Alpha vs Lamborghini Urus (2024)

Deep dive comparison

2024 GWM Cannon Alpha 2019 Lamborghini Urus

Verdict

The Cannon Alpha is a big ute with a big job ahead of it –taking on the top utes in Australia and the plethora of full-size US pick-ups that seem to be multiplying by the dozen every day on our roads.

But this new ute offers enough equipment, comfort and capability to appeal to those whose budgets may not stretch to a HiLux or Ranger – and it slots in nicely as a bang-for-your-buck value grab between established mainstream utes and full-size US pick-ups.

Verdict

Lamborghini has nailed it. The Urus is a super SUV that’s fast, dynamic, and has Lamborghini looks, but just as importantly it’s practical, spacious, comfortable and easy to drive. You’re not going to find those last four attributes in a sentence about an Aventador.

Where the Urus loses marks is in terms of warranty, value for money and fuel consumption.

I didn’t take the Urus on the Corsa nor the Neve, nor Sabbia and Terra, but as I said in my video we know this SUV is capable on the track and that it can go off-road.

What I really wanted to see was how well it handled regular life. Any competent SUV can deal with shopping centre car parks, dropping kids off at school, carrying boxes and bags, and of course fitting and being driven as you would any car.

The Urus is a Lamborghini anybody could drive, pretty much anywhere.

Design

Everything is big on the Alpha: it has a big grille, big headlights, big wheel-arch flares, big fixed side steps, and a stack of chrome has been thrown at this ute.

So, just how big is it? Well, at 5445mmlong (with a 3350mmwheelbase), 1991mmwide and 1924mm high, it’s 35mm longer (with a 120mm longer wheelbase), 57mm wider and 38mm taller than its standard stablemate, the Cannon, and it’s bigger than most of the current mainstream ute market offerings, and it’s also longer (in body and wheelbase) than the top-selling Ford Ranger and even taller than most Ranger variants, except the Raptor.

The business end of the ute – the tub – is 1500mm long, 1520mm wide (1100mm between the wheel arches), and 500mm deep – so not as big as a Ford Ranger dual-cab’s tub.

The tub liner seems robust, and the tub itself has four sturdy-looking tie-down points, but no power point.

There are a couple of examples of left-over ‘Poer’ branding on the Alpha’s exterior - in China, the Cannon is sold as the Poer, which stands for 'Powerful, Off-road, Enjoyable and Reliable' - but otherwise, this ute’s appearance carries over the conventional looks of the Cannon range, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Design

Anything interesting about the Urus? That’s like asking is there anything tasty about that really tasty thing you’re eating there? See, whether you like the look of the Lamborghini Urus or not, you have to admit it doesn’t look like anything you’ve ever seen before, right?

I wasn’t a major fan of it when I first clapped eyes on it in pictures online, but in the metal and in front of me wearing that 'Giallo Augo' yellow paint I found the Urus stunning, like a giant queen bee.

As I’ve mentioned, the Urus is built on the same MLB Evo platform as the Volkswagen Touareg, Porsche Cayenne, Bentley Bentayga and Audi Q8. While that offers a ready-made base with great comfort, dynamics and technology, it would limit shape and styling, but nevertheless I think Lamborghini has done an excellent job of ‘dressing’ the Urus with styling that doesn’t give away its Volkswagen Group bloodline too much.

The Urus looks exactly how a Lamborghini SUV should – from its side profile with the sleek glasshouse and haunches which look spring loaded, to its Y-shaped tail-lights and tailgate lip spoiler.

At the front, as with the Aventador and Huracan, the Lamborghini badge takes pride of place and even that broad flat bonnet which looks just like the lid on its supercar siblings has to skirt around the emblem almost out of respect. Below is the giant grille with its enormous lower air-intake and front splitter.

You can also see a few hat tips to the original LM002 Lamborghini off-roader from the late 1980s in those squared-off wheel arches. Yes, this isn’t Lamborghini’s first SUV.

The optional 23-inch wheels do look a bit too big, but if anything can pull them off, I feel the Urus can because so much else about this SUV is over the top. Even everyday elements are extravagant – the fuel cap on our car was carbon-fibre for example.

But then everyday objects which I think should be there, aren’t – like a rear windscreen wiper.

The Urus’s co*ckpit is just as special (and Lamborghini) as its exterior. As with the Aventador and Huracan the start button hides beneath a red flip-up cover fighter-jet rocket launcher-style and the front passengers are separated by a floating centre console which is home to more aircraft inspired controls – there are levers for selecting drive modes and there’s a giant one just for selecting reverse.

As we’ve covered above, the interior of our car had been optioned to the hilt, but I have to mention those seats again – the Q-Citura diamond stitching looks and feels beautiful.

It’s not just the seats, though, every touch point in the Urus has a quality feel – actually even places that never come in contact with passenger such as the headlining look and feel plush.

The Urus is large – look at the dimensions: it’s 5112mm long, 2181mm wide (including the mirrors) and 1638mm tall.

But what’s the space like inside? Read on to find out.

Practicality

The interior is spacious and set out in a functional way.

The Lux is the entry-spec ute in the Alpha line-up, but it has a premium feel about it: there are nice soft-touch surfaces, a wood-grain strip across the dash and while the seats are synthetic leather, they are comfortable and it's the same story in the back: comfortable, plenty of room.

Rear passengers also get grab handles, air vents, map pockets and a centre armrest with pop-out cupholders.

The 12.3-inch touchscreen media system (with wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto) is easy enough to use if a little clunky in some of its functioning and you sometimes have to work through a maze of menus to reach the controls you want.

Also, some controls, such as volume, temperature control etc, are on-screen only, which is on the wrong side of annoying. I was recently in another GWM vehicle – the Tank 500 Ultra – and the start-up screen stayed frozen for an hour-long trip so we were unable to adjust the temperature or to operate some other controls – minor problem, sure, but far from ideal.

There are plenty of storage spaces around the cabin – including a deep centre console with a lid and sliding tray, cup-holders and the like –and charge points for your phone and/or other devices as well as wireless charging for your smartphone.

Our test Alpha Lux did not have floor mats so, if you’re getting an Alpha as an adventure vehicle or even just as a daily driver, invest in a set of rubber mats for everyone because you don’t want to mess up the cabin.

Practicality

From the outside the Urus’s cabin looks like it could be a cramped place – it is a Lamborghini, after all right? The reality is the interior of the Urus is spacious and storage is great.

Our test car was a five-seater, but the Urus can also be ordered with just four seats. Alas, there is no seven-seater version of the Urus, but Bentley does offer a third row in its Bentayga.

The front seats in our Urus were snug but offered outstanding comfort and support.

Head-, shoulder- and legroom up front is excellent, but it’s the second row which is most impressive. Legroom for me, even at 191cm tall, is outstanding. I can sit behind my driving position with about 100mm to spare – take a look at the video if you don’t believe me. Headroom is good back there, too.

Entry and exit through the rear doors is good, although they could open wider, but the height of the Urus made putting my child into his car seat easy on my back. Also installing the car seat itself was easy – our is a top tether which hooked to the seatback.

The Urus has a 616-litre boot and that was large enough to fit the box for our new child car-seat (have a look at the images) along with several other bags – that’s damned good. Making loading easier is an air suspension system which can lower the rear of the SUV.

The big door pockets were excellent and so was the floating centre console which has storage underneath and two 12-volt power outlets. You’ll also find a USB port up front, too.

The centre console bin is the downfall – it’s only has space for the wireless charging pad.

There are two cupholders up front and another two in the fold down centre armrest in the rear.

The rear climate control system is outstanding and offers separate temperature options for left and right rear riders, with plenty of vents.

Grab handles, 'Jesus handles', call them what you will, but the Urus doesn’t have any. Both the youngest and oldest members of my family pointed this out – my son and my mother. Personally, I’ve never had a use for them, but they both feel it’s a glaring omission.

I’m not going to mark the Urus down for a lack of handles – this is a practical and family friendly SUV.

Price and features

The Cannon Alpha is available as a Lux or Ultra variant with a diesel engine – or you can get a petrol-hybrid Ultra.

Our test vehicle is a Lux and has drive-away pricing of $51,990. The diesel Ultra costs $57,990 drive-away and the hybrid Ultra costs $64,990 drive-away. (All prices were correct at time of writing.)

Standard features in the Lux include a 12.3-inch touchscreen multimedia system (with wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto), a six-speaker sound system, six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone climate control, 360-degree view monitor and clear chassis view, All-Terrain driving modes, 18-inch alloy wheels, and an electronic rear diff lock.

Marble White paint is standard. Metallic paint – including Crystal Black, Storm Grey, Lunar Red, and Onyx Silver – costs an extra $595.

Price and features

When it comes to Lamborghinis value-for-money is almost irrelevant because we’re in the realm of the supercar, where the laws of price and features don’t really apply. Yes, the old, if-you-have-to-ask-how-much-it-is-then-you-can’t-afford-it rule is coming into effect here.

Which is why the first question I asked was – how much is it? The five-seater version we tested lists for $390,000, before on-road costs. You can also have your Urus in a four-seat configuration but you'll pay more at $402,750.

The entry Lamborghini Huracan also lists for $390K, while the entry-level Aventador lists for $789,809. So, the Urus in comparison is an affordable Lamborghini. Or an expensive Porsche Cayenne Turbo.

You may know this already, but Porsche, Lamborghini, Bentley, Audi and Volkswagen have the same parent company and share technology.

The 'MLB Evo' platform which underpins the Urus is also used by the Porsche Cayenne, but that SUV is almost half the price at $239,000. But it’s not as powerful as the Lamborghini, not as fast as the Lamborghini, and … it’s not a Lamborghini.

Coming standard is a full-leather interior, four-zone climate control, two touch screens, sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DVD player, surround view camera, proximity unlocking, drive-mode selector, proximity unlocking, leather steering wheel, power and heated front seats, LED adaptive headlights, power tailgate and 21-inch alloy wheels.

Our Urus was fitted with options, lots of options - $67,692 worth. This included the giant 23-inch rims ($10,428) with carbon ceramic brakes ($3535), the leather seats with 'Q-Citura' diamond stitching ($5832) and optional stitching ($1237), the Bang & Olufsen stereo ($11,665) and digital radio ($1414), night vision ($4949) and the ambient light package ($5656).

Our car also had the Lamborghini badge sewn into the headrests which is a $1591 option and the plush floor mats are $1237.

What are the Lamborghini Urus’s rivals? Does it have any other than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, which isn’t really in the same monetary ballpark?

Well, the Bentley Bentayga SUV also shares the same MLB Evo platform and the five-seat version lists for $334,700. Then there’s the Range Rover SV Autobiography Supercharged LWB at $398,528.

Ferrari’s upcoming SUV will be a true rival to the Urus, but you’ll have to wait until about 2022 for that.

Aston Martin’s DBX will be with us sooner – it’s expected in 2020. But, don’t hold your breath for a McLaren SUV. When I interviewed the company’s global product boss in early 2018 he said one was totally out of the question. I asked him if he wanted to bet on it. He declined. What do you think?

Under the bonnet

This Cannon Alpha has a 2.4-litre turbo four-cylinder diesel engine, which produces 135kW at 3600rpm and 480Nm at 1500-2500rpm.

As mentioned earlier, this engine is a new addition to the Cannon line-up.

The Alpha has a nine-speed automatic transmission, a torque-on-demand 4WD system, high- and low-range 4WD gearing, as well as a rear diff lock.

Under the bonnet

The Lamborghini Urus has a 4.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V8 engine making 478kW/850Nm.

Any engine which can make 650 horsepower has my attention, but this unit, which you’ll also find in the Bentley Bentayga, is superb. The power delivery feels almost naturally aspirated in how linear and controllable it feels.

While the Urus doesn’t have the same screaming exhaust note as a V12 Aventador or the V10 found in the Huracan, the deep V8 grumble on idle and crackle on the down shifts let everybody know I’d arrived.

An eight-speed automatic transmission can change its personality from a brutally hard-shifter in Corsa (Track) mode to gelato smooth in Strada (Street).

Efficiency

Official fuel consumption is 8.9L/100km on a combined cycle.

On this test, I recorded 10.2L/100km.

The Alpha has a 78-litre fuel tank so, going by that fuel figure, you could reasonably expect a driving range of about 765km out of a full tank.

Efficiency

A V8 combustion engine that makes 478kW is not going to be frugal when it comes to fuel consumption. Lamborghini says the Urus should use 12.7L/100km after a combination of open and urban roads.

After highways, country roads and urban commutes I recorded 15.7L/100km at the fuel pump, which is close to the serving suggestion and good considering there weren't any motorway kays in there.

That’s thirsty, but not surprising.

Driving

The Alpha is a pleasant surprise on-road. Its long wheelbase helps to give it a settled driving feel on sealed surfaces.

Steering is light and mostly precise but some floatiness drifts into its action from time to time.

The Alpha has double-wishbone independent coil springs at the front and leaf springs and a live axle at the rear and with that set-up this body-on-frame 4WD rides and handles a tad stiffly and firmly, but if you’ve spent any time in a ute recently you’ll be right.

It’s also satisfactorily refined.

And the same goes for when it's on dirt tracks and gravel roads – with that long wheelbase yielding a controlled and composed driving experience.

But during low-range technical four-wheel driving, however, the Alpha is somewhat compromised because of its size, especially that long wheelbase impacting the ute’s ramp over angle which is a pretty ordinary 19 degrees. Not an insurmountable problem, but you do have to drive with more consideration than you would in a vehicle that has a shorter wheelbase.

Otherwise off-road angles are okay – approach 28.5 degrees and departure 23 – with just a little bit of driver-attitude adjustment needed to negate the impediment of that stretched wheelbase.

The Alpha has a listed ground clearance of 224mm – it does feel a bit low at times – and a wading depth of 800mm.

But the Alpha does suffer from some of the same driver-assist tech problems as its GWM stablemate, the Tank 500 Hybrid Lux, which I recently tested. However, where the Tank 500’s intrusive and over-reactive driver-assist tech was the source of much frustration on the road but less so off the road, it’s the Alpha’s off-road driver-assist tech, such as its traction control system, which was the worst offender, rather than the on-road driver-assist tech.

The off-road traction control here just seems too intrusive and preemptive. It does work, but it kicks in when it really shouldn’t: either activating in an abrupt, ill-timed fashion when you don't need it or robbing the ute of precious momentum by backing off or cutting out when you actually need it. The system needs to be better calibrated and more precise in its activation.

Otherwise, all the mechanicals are sound and the combination of everything works in a low-key effective manner.

Low-range gearing and engine braking are decent and the Alpha has a rear diff lock if needed.

The tyres – Giti Xross (Cross) HT71 (265/60R18) SUV tyres – aren’t great for 4WDing; they became quickly gummed up with sticky clay mud and so lost most of their valuable traction-grabbing abilities on slippery rock steps. The good news: you can easily swap those SUV tyres out for a set of decent all-terrains.

Apart from that, everything else pretty much checks out in a low key but not spectacular way.

Payload is listed as 878kg and the Alpha is rated to tow 750kg unbraked, and 3500kg braked.

Driving

The Lamborghini Urus is a brute, but not brutal, in that it’s big, powerful, quick and dynamic without being hard to drive. Actually, it’s one of the easiest and most comfortable SUVs I’ve ever driven, while also being the fastest I’ve piloted.

The Urus is at its most docile in the Strada (Street) drive mode and for the most part I drove it in this setting which kept the air suspension at its cushiest, the throttle calm and steering light.

The ride quality in Strada even on Sydney’s pot-holed and patchy streets was outstanding. Remarkable, given that our test car rolled on giant 23-inch wheels wrapped in wide, low profile tyres (325/30 Pirelli P Zeros at the rear and 285/35 at the front).

Sport mode does what you’d expect – firms the dampers, adds weight to the steering, makes the throttle more responsive and dials back the traction control. Then there’s 'Neve' which is for snow and probably not hugely useful in Australia.

Our car was fitted with optional extra drive modes – 'Corsa' for the racetrack, 'Terra' for rocks and dirt, and 'Sabbia' for sand.

Alternatively, you can ‘build your own’ mode using the 'Ego' selector which lets you adjust steering, suspension and throttle in light, medium or hard settings.

So, while you still have the Lamborghini supercar looks and colossal grunt, with the ability to head off road you could pilot the Urus all day as you would any large SUV in Strada.

In this mode you’d really have to plant your foot for the Urus’s reaction to be anything other than civilised.

Like any large SUV the Urus gives its occupants a commanding view, but it was a strange feeling looking out over that very Lamborghini bonnet but then pulling up next to the No.461 bus and glancing over almost at head height with the driver.

Then there’s the acceleration – 0-100km/h in 3.6 seconds. Combine that with this height and piloting it feels like watching one of those videos of a bullet train shot from the driver’s seat.

Braking is almost as astonishing as the acceleration. The Urus has been equipped with the largest brakes ever for a production car – sombrero-sized 440mm diameter discs at the front with giant 10-piston calipers and 370mm discs at the rear. Our Urus was fitted with carbon ceramic brakes and yellow calipers.

Visibility through the front and side windows was surprisingly good, although seeing through that rear glass was limited as you’d expect. I’m talking about the Urus not the bullet train – bullet train rear visibility is terrible.

The Urus has a 360-degree camera and an excellent reversing camera, too, which makes up for the small rear window.

Safety

The Cannon Alpha doesn’t have an ANCAP rating yet because, at time of writing, it hasn’t been tested yet.

As standard, it has seven airbags and a comprehensive suite of driver-assist tech including AEB, adaptive cruise control, tyre pressure monitoring system, front and rear parking sensors, and a 360 degree around-view camera and clear chassis view.

Safety

The Urus hasn’t been assessed by ANCAP, and as with super high-end cars it’s unlikely to be fired into a wall. Still, the new-gen Touareg which shares the same underpinnings as the Urus scored five stars in its 2018 Euro NCAP test and we’d expect the Lamborghini to achieve the same result.

The Urus is fitted standard with an outstanding array of advanced safety technology including AEB which works at city and highway speeds with pedestrian recognition, there’s also rear collision warning, blind spot alert, lane keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control. It also has emergency assistance which can detect if the driver is not responding and bring the Urus safely to a halt.

Our test car was fitted with night vision which stopped me from running up the back of a ute with its tail-lights out while on a country road in the bush. The system picked up the heat of the ute’s tyres and diff and I spotted it on the night vision screen way before I saw it with my own eyes.

For child seats you’ll find two ISOFIX points and three top tethers across the second row.

There’s a puncture repair kit under the boot floor for a temporary fix until you replace the tyre.

Ownership

The Cannon Alpha is covered by a seven-year/unlimited km warranty, seven years roadside assist and seven years of capped price servicing.

After the first service at six months, TD intervals at around every 12 months or 10,000km.

Service pricing varies. For up-to-date pricing and more, check the news section on carsguide.com.au and contact your local dealership.

Ownership

This is the category which brings the total score down. The three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty on the Urus is falling behind the norm with many carmakers moving to five-year coverage.

You can purchase the fourth year of the warranty for $4772 and the fifth year for $9191.

A three-year maintenance package can be bought for $6009.

GWM Cannon Alpha vs Lamborghini Urus (2024)
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