As the first-generation X5 celebrates its 25th anniversary this month, what better way to mark the milestone than by exploring the most radical iteration of the E53. While the 7 Series and 8 Series were the firm’s only production models to receive the V12 treatment, there was a hardcore SUV with twelve cylinders of power.
Introduced in March 2000, the X5 Le Mans takes center stage in an extended walkaround video of the one-of-a-kind concept. Underneath its vented carbon fiber hood sits the same 6.1-liter V12 engine as the Le Mans-winning V12 LMR. A fun fact – the super SUV was actually more powerful, packing over 700 hp, whereas the endurance racer was dialed down to 580 hp with air intake limiters to meet regulations.
The X5 Le Mans was all about staggering numbers, and not just its horsepower. It boasted a colossal 720 Newton-meters (531 pound-feet) of torque and could accelerate from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 4.7 seconds. Flat out, it was officially rated at 173 mph (278 km/h). However, race driver Hans-Joachim Stuck drove the beefy SUV in a lighter two-seat configuration in June 2001 when he hit 193 mph (311 km/h).
The lengthy video takes us inside the cabin where the V12 SUV has retained the two-seat layout. Mind you, even the four-seat configuration featured bucket seats in the back. More importantly, we’re reminded that it had a six-speed manual gearbox. The X5 Le Mans was no ballerina, tipping the scales at 4,695 pounds (2,130 kilograms) even after implementing a series of weight-saving measures. It sat on exclusive 20-inch BBS LM wheels and was lowered by 1.18 inches (30 millimeters) by the M division.
Even if you’re in the anti-SUV crowd, it’s nearly impossible not to appreciate what the engineers did to the X5. Putting a V12 engine from an endurance race car that won Le Mans in 1999 into an SUV was a stroke of genius. It’s just too bad a production version didn’t happen.
As a reminder, the E53 generation maxed out with the 4.8is equipped with a naturally aspirated 4.8-liter V8 making 355 hp. It wasn’t until the second-gen model (E70) that BMW launched a full-fat X5 M with a twin-turbo V8 dialed to 547 hp.
Source: CarRanger / YouTube