Monday, February 28, 2005

The myth of the fastest SUV

As you might guess, I'm a bit of a car guy - not a closet car guy - but an out, loud, and proud car guy. People at works are aware of this (see my office and you would understand) and frequently seek advice about cars. Mostly it's harmless stuff - "Should I balance my tires every time I rotate them?" or "How can I make my Saab faster?".

Every once in a while I get a zinger that gets under my skin. I was at a housewarming party over the weekend, and got one. While chatting casually with the owner of a nicely modified Audi S4 about big turbos, chips, and Iconel downpipes, a twenty-something party-goer wanders up, listened just long enought to decern the topic is cars and spews forth: "Yah, I'm lookin for somthin new, probly an SUV, but, you know a FAST one... which one is the fastest?" The irony of this question haunts me still.

The fastest SUV.

Ever see the soccer playing elephants in Thiland? Think Polo but with a 4 foot ball. a bunch of crazy Thais riding them like horses, really big horses. This was the image that formed in my mind as i wondered about the fastest SUV. Then I remembered that Hans Stuck had set some record (absolute I belive) lapping the Nuerbergring in a BMW X5 with a 600+ HP V12 LeMans engine.

When I tuned back in to the conversation, he had begun quoting horsepower and 0-60 times. He seemed pretty set on the Cayenne Turbo - 400+ hp and '60 in less then five. My Audi buddy was trying to explain how 400hp and a high center of gravity might not produce the best vehicle dynamics (especially in the hands of a novice driver I thought silently) but our new friend would hear none of it. Convinced of his superior knowlege, he bid us adue, "Later dudes", and walked up the street to an ancient VW Jetta. An anemic burn-out and the boom of too-loud subwoofers announced his departure.

My Audi buddy turned to me and said, "You can teach a pig to sing but it wastes your time and annoys the pig". Yep, that pretty much covers the myth of the fastest SUV.

5 comments:

Zandr Milewski said...

On the other hand...

I passed an Enzo at Buttonwillow in a Cayenne Turbo.

Of course, later that day, I was passed while I was driving the Enzo...by Johannes van Overbeek in a Lancer.

Sigh.

Stacey S said...

Even though i am aware that a "fast" SUV is a self-contradiction, let's think about it for a second (please do not boil me in oil).

What would it take to make an SUV fast and able to corner like a particular BMW I have ridden in.

The first thing it would need is an adjustable height so we could resolve the COG (Center of Gravity) issue. Dude... this could be interesting....

I think it might be fun to try to design one, of course "i am not right in the head"

Ren said...

Wanna read about singing and dancing pigs. Google "V12 X5".

mark said...

Hmmm ... fastest Poseur Sports Utilty Vehicle?

My box-stock 325i has done more miles off pavement than most SUVs. I did about 200 miles of gravel and dirt roads on a trip from LA to the SF Bay though the unpopulated middle of the coastal range. Also, with the folding rear seats, I was able to fetch a massive load (two fully loaded carts) of lumber, soil and plants from Home Depot. And, I'm sure I could do a lap of Laguna in under 2 minutes.

A better choice would be a WRX.

For my money, most SUVs fall into two different categories: 1) minivans with a lift kit, and 2) overpriced, poorly suspended trucks with fancy upholstery.

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