Munich/Nurburg. BMW is always good for causing a sensation as far as the time for completing a lap at the Nurburgring is concerned not only on the occasion of the European Grand Prix: only a few days before this event the racing driver Hans-Joachim Stuck driving the X5 LeMans completed the 20.8 km northern circuit of the Nurburgring in 7.49,92 minutes, which is an incredible result. In the straight he reached a top speed of 311 km/h. The X5 LeMans concept car is mostly based on the series-production X5 and demonstrates the BMW Sports Activity Vehicle's enormous potential in terms of technology.

So far it has been considered to be impossible for a Sports Activity Vehicle to break the magic 8-minute record in the so-called "Green Hell". The time it took the X5 LeMans to complete the loop has so far been expected only from specially tuned racing cars or thoroughbred sport coupes. By comparison: the BMW 320i completed the famous circuit in the Eifel area at the Super Touring Car Championship in 7.37 minutes. Under perfect conditions it takes a modern BMW sports car like the Z8, that delivers 400 bhp, 8.16 minutes to do this distance.

The X5 LeMans concept car has been modified only slightly compared to the series-production version. It is powered by the V12 engine of the prize-winning car in Le Mans in 1999, which produces more than 700 bhp and a torque of 720 Nm. The suspension has been lowered by 30 millimetres. The external dimensions basically correspond to those of the series-production X5. Inside the comfortable standard seats have been replaced by four sporty bucket seats. Aluminium is predominant all around.

The idea behind the concept car is of technological origin: the BMW engineers wanted to find out in practice and demonstrate the X5's absolute limits. It was a pleasant side-effect that it turned out to be a very attractive showpiece that already caused a great stir at the Geneva Motor Show in 2000.

Published : 28/06/01 Author : Melanie Carter

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