TOYOTA LAND SPEED CRUISER CLAIMS WORLD’S FASTEST SUV TITLE

Modified vehicle tops 230mph – and could have gone faster

The Toyota Land Cruiser has built a worldwide reputation for go-anywhere toughness in its 60-year-plus history. Now it can add the title of the “world’s fastest SUV” to its honours list after a custom-built Land Speed Cruiser clocked up more than 230mph.

With former Toyota NASCAR racing driver Carl Edwards at the wheel and benefiting from a massive upgrade to its V8 engine to produce 2,000bhp, the mighty machine bested the previous record by 19 mph on the 2.5-mile runway at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

In fact, the Land Speed Cruiser could probably have gone faster than its verified 230.2mph if it hadn’t simply run out of Tarmac.

The Land Speed Cruiser made its debut at SEMA, the world’s leading customisation show, in Las Vegas last year. It started life as a standard US-specification Land Cruiser, before being heavily modified by a team of engineers at Toyota’s Motorsports Technical Center (MTC).

Chuck Wade, MTC Manager, said: “The world’s fastest SUV record was at 211mph, which is extremely rapid. Toyota thought ‘why don’t we make a really, ultra-powerful Land Cruiser and just see how fast we can make it go’.”

Starting point for the project was the regular 5.7-litre V8 engine featured in the North American Land Cruiser range. A pair of volleyball-sized Garett turbochargers were added, capable of producing up to 55PSI of boost. To cope with this extreme level of forced induction, the engine’s internal parts were strengthened, including the pistons, rods and a custom-made intake manifold.

These measure helped ensure the monster V8 could both develop and handle 2,000bhp for its record-setting runs. The challenge of feeding all that power to the wheels was met with a purpose-built racing transmission, engineered to withstand the exceptional stresses generated by high power and speed.

MTC considers the engine build was the easy part of the project; securing the right vehicle aerodynamics and stability were a tougher call. To aid controllability, the Land Speed Cruiser sits closer to the ground, dramatically reducing the amount of turbulent air that can pass under the car. The frame was reworked to accommodate the best possible suspension arrangement and made three inches narrower to make room for wider Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres.

The package was put to the test and fine-tuned at Toyota’s Arizona Proving Ground with key input from test driver and championship road racer Craig Stanton.  He said: “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. We made some set-up adjustments, and it not only accelerated and shifted more smoothly, but it also became more stable.”

Once the team were confident they had the right balance of power, handling and speed, the action moved to the Mojave Air and Space Port, where the extra-long runway designed for supersonic aircraft provided the perfect setting for the Land Speed Cruiser’s special mission.

Stanton had the job of warming up the SUV, moving it along at a hefty 198mph. On his first speed run, Edwards was able to hit 211mph, but found himself running out room to slow the Toyota down. More boost was dialled in to increase power and he tried again.

The next run was the most impressive. Edwards put the hammer down and piloted the Land Speed Cruiser to its incredible 230mph record.

“At 225 mph, 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 230mph,” he said. “It’s safe to say that this is the fastest SUV on the planet.”

The Land Cruiser Toyota offers to its UK customers may be nowhere near as fast – a maximum 109mph from its 174bhp 2.8-litre D4D engine – but it is the most technically accomplished and capable model, equipped with advanced handling and control technologies to provide even greater off-road driving capabilities, balanced by smooth and refined on-road performance.

Download more high resolution photographs of the Land Speed Cruiser here.

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