BMW X5 LM

With Lamborghini entering the SUVs stakes, I figured it was time for a public service announcement about fast SUVs.

I suppose that with little effort, around 600 horsepower in a 5-seat SUV is doable—and that's probably what we'll end up getting once Lamborghini and the rest of the modern Jet Set manufacturers start seeing how extreme they can make SUVs.

The granddaddy of all factory "sport" SUVs, though, is quite likely the BMW X5 LM. 

Sometimes, we get a perfect storm of circumstances—even if they conspire to fulfil the most pointless set of criteria. A fast SUV is a pointless set of criteria—however amazing the result.

In the late-'90s, the storm was simple: BMW had an all-new vehicle to play with, the X5. It also had an engine with which to make the X5 go faster—one from the Le Mans-winning BMW V12 LMR. Finally, BMW had a driver with enough skill to wring it out on the Nürburgring: Hans Stuck.

Best of all, I don't have to posit how wild this vehicle is, as BMW paraded it around to auto writers, even giving the lucky few hot laps around the Nürburgring…hitting upwards of 273 km/h (170 mph) in the wet. Below, I've included a video of this mad SUV on German TV, hooned by Stuck like it was a Caterham.

From its 6.0-liter V-12, BMW claimed about 700 horsepower (no restrictors!) and a top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph). Engineers were tasked with learning how to make an SUV go fast in preparation for what would become the X5 M. Since the V12 LMR was done in partnership with the Williams F1 team, another option was to use a F1 V10.

I'm glad BMW didn't, because the V10-in-a-people-mover trick will never top the Renault Espace F1.

And before I forget, I did mention that the SUV was built in part to see how fast it'd go around the Nürburgring: in about 8 minutes…if it matters much.