Ultimate SUV: 2,000hp Toyota Land Cruiser clocks 370km/h

Former NASCAR driver Carl Edwards hits jaw-dropping speed on Mojave runway

 

Let’s say, for a moment, that you’ve won the EuroMillions and invested in a Bugatti Chiron. Let’s further say that you fancy taking your new €2 million 1,500hp hypercar on a holiday, but are dismayed at the lack of luggage space. If only, you fictionally think, someone would make a roomy, spacious SUV which can keep up with a Chiron.

Someone has. Toyota has. Say hello to the Land Speed Cruiser.

And say goodbye again pretty quickly because it will be moving at speed. The Land Speed Cruiser was created, as a one-off, for the SEMA accessories and modified car show in Las Vegas and, staggeringly, it’s close to road-legal.

It even uses the same 5.7-litre V8 petrol engine as found in the road-standard US version of the Land Cruiser VX, but Toyota has, shall we say, tinkered with it a bit.

Tinkering, in this case, meaning the addition of a pair of monstrous 55psi Garrett turbochargers (Toyota describes them as ‘volleyball-sized’), housed in a jutting grille that distends the front end of the car. Power rises from the standard rating of 381hp to 2,000hp. Just let that sink in for a moment. You could buy a Chiron and a BMW M550i and still not, collectively, have as much power as this one SUV.

“At Toyota, we like to say, ‘Let’s go places’, and the Land Speed Cruiser goes places faster than any SUV before it. This was an aspirational goal that inspired us all,” said Steve Appelbaum, Toyota marketing manager.

Con-rods

The modifications, made by the Toyota Motorsports Centre (MTC), included beefed-up pistons and con-rods, a custom intake manifold, the transmission and gearbox from a racing car, and suspension, already lower than standard, that’s 15mm narrower so that ultra-wide Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres could be fitted.

“The world’s fastest SUV record was at 340km/h. That’s extremely fast. Toyota thought, ‘Why don’t we make a really, ultra-powerful Land Cruiser, and let’s just see how fast we can make it can go,’” said MTC manager Chuck Wade.

Test driver and championship road racer Craig Stanton played a key role in fine tuning the Land Speed Cruiser’s setup at Toyota’s Arizona proving ground.

His input was translated into tactile changes made by MTC’s engineers. “I wanted the Land Speed Cruiser to provide the confidence you need, as a driver, to keep pushing even when the world around you becomes a high-speed blur,” he said. “We made some setup adjustments, and it not only accelerates and shifts more smoothly, but it also has enhanced stability.”

Recently retired Toyota NASCAR driver Carl Edwards was brought in at the Mojave air and space port in California. In addition to being one of the very few places in the US where supersonic flight is allowed, it features a 2½-mile paved runway that seemed perfectly suited to the Land Speed Cruiser’s mission.

Hammer

Prior to Edwards’s run, Stanton warmed up the SUV, moving it along at a hefty 319km/h. On his first run, Edwards was able to hit an awe-inspiring 340km/h, but found himself running out of track to slow the big SUV. More boost was then dialled in to increase the power, and he tried again.

The next run proved to be the most impressive. Edwards put the hammer down, and piloted the Land Speed Cruiser to its jaw-dropping 370km/h top speed.

“At 360km/h, the thing was wandering a little bit. All I could think was that Craig said, ‘No matter what, just keep your foot in it,’ and we got 370km/h,” Edwards recounted from behind a huge grin after setting the record. “It’s safe to say that this is the fastest SUV on the planet.”

It’s not yet a world-record holder, though. The GPS-timed run hasn’t yet been Guinness certified, and anyway, even the long Mojave runway wasn’t long enough for the Land Speed Cruiser to truly stretch its legs. At 370km/h, here’s one SUV that still seems to have more to give.

It’s just a shame you can’t actually buy one . . .