Car and Driver takes a look at a wide range of high-end and high-performance SUVs and pits them against each other. From BMW, the model of choice is the 2012 X5 M, company’s first M-developed SUV. The competition brings to the table the 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, Porsche Cayenne Turbo and from Detroit, the Jeep Gran Cherokee SRT 8.
The average weight of the participants is 5,272 pounds and they produce an average of 519 horsepower, with the X5 M at the higher end (555 horsepower). The X5 M is powered by a 4.4 liter V8 engine which delivers its 555 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 500 lb-ft of torque from 1,500 to 5,650 rpm. The engine uses the twin-scroll twin turbo technology with High Precision Direct Injection.
The 2012 Porsche Cayenne Turbo is powered by a 4.8-liter twin-turbo aluminum V8 engine producing 500 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. Ml63 AMG has under the hood a direct-injected, 4-cam 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8 rated at 557 horsepower and 560 lb-ft of torque (with the Performance Package option). The most underpowered SUV from the bunch is the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 running with a Hemi V8 6.4 liters unit which outputs 470 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 465 lb-ft of torque at 4300 rpm.
So who takes the win? This time around, the 2012 BMW X5 M. Let’s have a look at how Car and Driver describes the super-sporty SUV:
“Viewed from head-on, the X5 M’s monster radiators, intercoolers, and gill intakes lend it the look of an industrial HVAC unit that might more appropriately be attached to the Trump Tower. But that’s the sort of cooling you’ll need when you funnel 555 horses through the launch control—three or four times in a row—just to hear yourself spontaneously come up with increasingly profane variations of the exclamation “Holy Moses!”
In this group, no SUV could match the X5 M’s 4.0-second dash to 60 mph—same as our last X5 M—nor its 12.5-second blast through the quarter-mile. No SUV could match the BMW’s brake feel nor the gratifyingly forceful “click” with which it automatically selects each of its six gears. And despite all that oomph produced by the BMW, no SUV in this group could equal its engine’s low levels of NVH. Tack on superior ergonomics in an SUV offering 75 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seat, and you’re off to what we’d call a very strong start.
With a push of the M Drive button, the X5 M enthusiastically undertakes the transition to a taut, crisp, and sophisticated Mr. Hyde, making the most of 500 pound-feet of torque available just off idle—as low as 1500 rpm. This ute felt far more agile than the Benz and the Jeep, especially in traffic, where it was aided by its upright stance and its vast, nearly flat expanses of glass. On freeways, it tracked like a BNSF locomotive, and in the hills, well, the BMW felt as if it had been schooled there. “It manages fast transitions with real poise,” noted Alterman. “In sport mode, the transmission is always in the perfect gear.” Every bizarre road condition we could throw at the X5 M left it unfazed, unflustered, unflummoxed.”