Five High-Riding, Sports Car Beating Tuner SUVs

July 28, 2010
High-performance SUVs seem to be the answer to a question no one asked. An ultrafast vehicle with a center of gravity higher than some sports cars' rooflines and weighs as much as several sports cars combined? Sounds like a recipe for a rollover. Nonetheless, automakers have found the concept rather popular -- and profitable -- and we can't deny that these vehicles can be impressive performers.
Hennessey Hpe800 Side View
Although a number of automakers offer high-performance SUVs from the factory, aftermarket tuners have taken the vehicles to the next level.
An 800-horsepower, twin-turbocharged Jeep that will embarrass almost any sports cars from a stoplight? A 700-horsepower, carbon-fiber-bodied Mercedes-Benz G-Class that can still tackle the Rubicon?
Bring it on!
The SUVs on the following pages represent some of the most outrageous tuned offerings available. In the conversion, most forego any off-road worthiness they had in exchange for extreme on-road performance. If you're in the market for an SUV, but find a stock X6 M too plebeian, one of these may be for you.
Audi Q7 V12 TDI by ABT Sportsline
Abt Sportsline Q7 V12 Tdi Front Three Quarter View
Name: ABT Q7 V12
Based On: Audi Q7 V12 TDI
Stock Power: 500 horsepower, 738 pound-feet
Tuned Power: 560 horsepower, 885 pound-feet
ABT Sportsline is a well known Audi, Volkswagen, Skoda, and Seat tuner that offers tuning packages for every model in the Audi lineup except for the new A1, which ABT plans to support in the near future. Although ABT tunes both of Audi's SUVs, the Q5 and Q7, the Q7 is undoubtedly the more extreme offering.
In Europe, Audi builds a version of its Q7 that uses a twin-turbo-diesel V-12 that it wants you to believe is derived from its Le Mans-winning R10 prototype. The two engines, however, share almost no components. No matter the Q7 V12 TDI's powerplant's actual origins, the 6.0-liter, twin-turbo-diesel is incredibly impressive. In stock form it puts out 500 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque, enough to launch Audi's 5900-pound Q7 to 62 mph in 5.5 seconds.
ABT Sportsline felt that even more power could be unleashed from the monster diesel engine. Sure enough, with a simple ECU reflash, ABT's tuned Q7 V12 TDI now throws down 560 horsepower and 885 pound-feet of tire-shredding torque. [jj4]With the increases in horsepower and more importantly, torque, the Q7 sprints to 62 mph in 5.3 seconds. This performance, like the engine, is relegated to Europe.
Of course, no tuned vehicle would be complete without exterior modifications and ABT offers a number of optional enhancements to round out the package. Buyers can opt for a complete aerodynamic package that includes lowered front and rear fascias, side skirts, and larger fender flares. ABT's optional suspension offers a pneumatically variable ride height and lowers the Q7 between 1.2- and 2.4-inches, depending on the setting. ABT also offers three choices of wheels, [jj6]all of which can be ordered with any finish[jj7] the customer desires. In addition to tuning the Q7's incredible turbo-diesel V-12, ABT also offers tuning for the 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6. Unfortunately we'll never see the V-12 tuning package in the States as it's relegated to markets where the engine is sold, namely Europe.
BMW X6 Tycoon Evo M by Hamann
Hamann X6 M Front Three Quarter View
Name: Hamann Tycoon Evo M
Based On: BMW X6 M
Stock Power: 555 horsepower, 500 pound-feet
Tuned Power: 670 horsepower, 627 pound-feet
Unlike some tuners that concentrate on specific brands, Hamann tunes just about everything from the Fiat 500 to the Ferrari 458 Italia. One of the company's most recent, and ridiculous, products is a tuned BMW X6 M, dubbed the Tycoon Evo M.
Hamann offers two versions of its Tycoon Evo M, both based on the X6 M and its 4.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V-8. In base form, the Evo M needs only an ECU reflash to put out 610 horsepower and 575 pound-feet of torque, 55 horsepower and 74 pound-feet more than stock. The uplevel Evo M puts out a whopping 670 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque through the same ECU reflash and new catalytic converters. With the 115 horsepower boost, the Tycoon Evo M is capable of doing 0 to 62 mph in 4.2 seconds, 0.3 seconds faster than the stock X6 M's 4.5 second sprint.
The German tuner provides an incredible array of interior and exterior enhancements for the X6 M in addition to engine tuning. Inside, Hamann will fit your X6 with carbon fiber trim, including the shifter; black or silver anodized aluminum sport pedals; a choice of three steering wheels -- carbon fiber, fiberglass, or Alcantara; and a Hamann floor and cargo mat set. These options are all separate packages, but can be ordered together to really trick out your X6.
Hamann's X6 exterior enhancement options list is even more impressive than its interior enhancement options. Hamann has no less than two different wide body kits for the X6, both of which can be had with any of seven wheel choices. Hamann also offers a la carte options, including carbon fiber bits ranging from a roof spoiler to a rear diffuser, to fender turn signal covers. Two different styles of hood and trunk emblems are the last of the possible exterior modifications.
A fully loaded Tycoon Evo M with the uplevel body kit and 670 horsepower upgrade runs around $245,000, an incredible $156,000 more than a base X6 M. However, Hamann will sell you just a body kit from $22,600, individual components from $1500, and engine tuning starts at $7500.
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 HPE800 by Hennessey Performance Engineering
Hennessey Hpe800 Front Three Quarter View
Name: Hennessey HPE800 Jeep SRT8
Based On: Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8
Stock Power: 420 horsepower, 420 pound-feet
Tuned Power: 800 horsepower, 770 pound-feet
Jeep is typically known for producing vehicles with tremendous off-road capability. At the 2005 New York International Auto Show, however, Jeep showed the Grand Cherokee SRT8 that threw most of its storied off-road heritage out the window in favor of hardcore street performance. And almost since the beginning, Hennessey Performance Engineering has been turning out more powerful SRT8s.
Hennessey produces six different variations of its modified SRT8 ranging from 475 to 800 horsepower. In the spirit of excess, we're going to concentrate on the latter. Hennessey starts with a relatively tame Grand Cherokee SRT8 that puts out 420 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque from a 6.1-liter V-8. From there, Hennessey adds a 426-cubic-inch Hemi stroker kit to increase displacement to just under 7.0 liters. Included in that kit are a new 426 stroker crankshaft, forged aluminum pistons, and forged steel connecting rods. The kit helps to strengthen the engine and, along with a performance valve job, lower the compression ratio in preparation for adding twin-turbochargers. An air-to-air intercooler is added as well.
Further modifications include beefed-up transmission internals to prevent grenading, upgraded fuel injectors, engine management software, and a three-inch dual exhaust. All of these modifications are good for a total of 800 horsepower and 770 pound-feet of torque. Hennessey doesn't list performance numbers for its range-topping HPE800, but its lesser HPE600 sibling will do 0 to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and blaze through the quarter-mile in 11.9 seconds at 121 mph. We can only imagine the HPE800 is a bit faster.
As with all of Hennessey's products, it's covered and guaranteed. Hennessey dynos all of its vehicles to guarantee an accurate power rating and runs each down its private quarter-mile test track in Texas. The Grand Cherokee SRT8 HPE800 is covered by a full, one-year limited warranty.
Mercedes-Benz G-Couture by Mansory
Mansory G Couture Front Three Quarter View
Name: Mansory G-Couture
Based On: Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG
Stock Power: 500 horsepower, 516 pound-feet
Tuned Power: 700 horsepower, 649 pound-feet
Mansory has turned out some absolutely incredible machines in the past, and the G-Couture is no exception. Mansory's G-Couture is definitely the most insane vehicle on this list, with added power and most of its off-road abilities intact, apart from the high-performance tires that won't stand up to much off-road abuse. Based on Mercedes-Benz's 500-horsepower G55 AMG off-road machine, it can go just about anywhere the owner desires - and quickly.
Like Mansory's carbon fiber-bodied Aston Martin Cyrus, the G-Couture is clad in the lightweight composite material. Every one of the G-Class' steel body panels is removed and replaced with a unique Mansory-crafted carbon fiber piece. The G-Class' general two-box shape is retained, but the fender flares are more outlandish, the front bumper now features LED daytime running lights, and LEDs appear on the roof for off-road lighting. Mansory even slaps a rear diffuser on the SUV, and bespoke 23-inch wheels complete the exterior changes.
With a lower ride height, the rear diffuser might come in handy to help keep the SUV planted during high-speed maneuvers that its significantly upgraded engine allows. The G-Couture is based on Mercedes' already potent G55 AMG, which sports a supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 producing 500 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. Mansory however, bumps engine output up to an amazing 700 horsepower and 649 pound-feet of torque. This is accomplished by replacing the majority of the stock engine components -- heads, supercharger, connecting rods, pistons, crankshaft -- with the ultrahigh-performance units found in the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.
The same attention to detail in molding the carbon fiber body panels is taken in creating the extravagant interior. The entire interior is redone and transformed into a truly luxurious cabin, compared the standard G-Class' rather military-like take on luxury. Every surface in the G-Couture is either covered in exquisite leather or carbon fiber. The interior makes the passengers feel as if they're in a go-anywhere land yacht.
Mansory is only building seven of these incredible SUVs and has not publicly revealed a price for the exclusivity that comes along with it. Given the car's carbon fiber construction and engine parts from the McLaren, it's likely high enough to make most people faint.
Porsche Cayenne Turbo CLR 550 GT by Lumma Design
2011 Porsche Cayenne Lumma Clr 550 Gt Front
Name: Lumma Design CLR 550 GT
Based On: Porsche Cayenne Turbo
Stock Power: 500 horsepower, 516 pound-feet
Tuned Power: N/A, coming later
The majority of vehicles in this list feature the engine as the most impressive talking point, but that's not the case with the Lumma Design Porsche Cayenne CLR 550 GT -- at least for now. As of now, the CLR 550 GT is purely a dress-up kit for the new 2011 Cayenne, but given Lumma Design's experience with other Porsches and SUVs, the engine tuning kit is sure to be incredible once it reaches the market. As a reference, Lumma Design builds a 700-horsepower Panamera, which uses the same twin-turbocharged, 4.8-liter V-8 as the Cayenne Turbo.
According to Lumma Design, the 2011 Cayenne sports a "somewhat reserved appearance" that the tuning firm worked to correct with its CLR 550 GT appearance package. Like the all of the tuned SUVs here except the G-Couture, the CLR 550 GT loses all of its off-road prowess in exchange for looks. This is clear in Lumma Design's aim to make the Cayenne more aerodynamic and produce more downforce.
In the name of aerodynamics, Lumma Design adds a new carbon-fiber front splitter that sits substantially lower than the Cayenne's standard front fascia. The splitter is also designed to increase downforce. Lumma Design also crafts a new carbon fiber and Kevlar hood designed to slipstream the Cayenne and dissipate heat from the soon-to-be-tuned engine. The new hood also incorporates a taller windshield wiper cover to further reduce drag.
Moving rearward, Lumma Design adds lower, aerodynamically optimized side skirts complete with rear brakes ducts. Both the front and rear wheel arches are widened as well. At the very back of the car is a new Lumma Design carbon fiber rear spoiler and diffuser, which both help to increase downforce on the SUV. Large 22- and 23-inch wheels are available as well.
All of Lumma Design's exterior modifications have been made in preparation for what is sure to be a monster engine We should know more about Lumma Design's interior customization program later into the Cayenne's production cycle.


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