M’s moment of madness
We go for a ride in an X5 fitted with a 700bhp, Le Mans-winning V12 race engine
Posted: 15 Nov 2012
But cornering is where it gets interesting. First of all you have kill some of that speed that's been inevitably delivered by the motor - which doesn't happen very easily with a car this big. I turned to Martin and asked how the brakes were, "S*%^!!!, this thing is an effin' elephant!", he shouted through his helmet.
Which is not exactly what you want to hear when approaching a damp corner at speed.
Still, he managed to turn the car in, but we were welcomed at every corner by a massive dose of understeer. Which isn't a huge surprise - this thing is nose heavy - weight distribution 51/49% front-to-rear, with that heavy engine up front - 4x4 and tall, meaning lots of weight transfer. Chuck in some decently high speeds and you start to notice that apparently understeer is the X5 Le Mans' best friend.
To try and tuck the car in somewhere near the apex, Martin eased back off the throttle. It helped, but with any stab at the accelerator you'd once again be ploughing through a corner, rather than around it. Not particularly elegant, but somehow terrifically amusing. Not particularly to the taste of a precise racer, though. For the rest of the lap Martin didn't even bother trying to keep to his DTM lines and just had a bit of a play with it: mind you, the car is basically a freak and having smoke pour off its inside-front wheel seems appropriate somehow.
So at the next complex Martin simply applied accelerator to carpet to see if the four-wheel-drive would be able to manage the mighty engine's power a little more judiciously. Which, it...er.. didn't. Though we both laughed at the thought of what it looked like from the outside.