Can a Crossover Beat the Toyota Supra at the Race Track?
Crossovers are selling like hotcakes around the world, and one of their professed qualities is that they combine the agility and performance of sedans with the utility of SUVs. But can crossovers really match sedans when it comes to speed and driving pleasure?
To answer this question in its latest video, The Fast Lane Car compared a BMW X7 M50i to the new Toyota Supra and Toyota 86, putting them all through their paces at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Colorado.
Unfortunately, the comparison is hardly a fair one and, in fact, seems deliberately designed to give the X7 an edge. The crossover’s massive 523-hp engine, for instance, is turbocharged, which is an advantage at a circuit like the high-altitude Pikes Peak. The Fast Lane Car also used sections of the big oval track where the X7 could really put its muscle to use, helping mask the fact that it’s over twice as heavy as the 86.
Then there’s the question of cost. As tested, the X7 was worth $113,845 — more than both the Supra and 86 combined, with almost enough money left over to buy a second 86.
“When I was a kid, sports cars were fast. But because of technology, and because of you guys out there buying nothing but crossovers, today, we’ve got a situation where these crossovers are as fast, if not faster, than sports cars,” the presenter said.
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Regardless of the fairness of the comparison, it didn’t look good for the X7 anyway. Racing driver Paul Gerrard, the former Stig for Top Gear USA, took all three cars out for hot laps and had a lot to say about the X7 — most of it bad.
Calling the X7 a “bucking bronco,” Gerrard said he experienced excess body roll, sluggish gear shifts and poor transitions between corners. Even with all the components set to their sportiest settings, he said you could still feel the crossover’s 5,700 pounds.
But after a lap in the 86, which was five seconds slower than the X7, he had only love for the 86. “I don’t know how fast that was, but that was so much more fun than driving the X7 around the track,” he gushed before going on about the car’s excellent balance.
After being shown the time, and unsatisfied with the comparison, Gerrard returned with the Supra, a car still half the cost of the X7 but still better suited for a head-to-head. The Supra then beat the X7’s time by nearly three seconds.
“When you look at pure driving experience, numbers don’t always matter,” Gerrard said. “You look at the horsepower, the 0-60 time of an SUV and you’re like, ‘Wow that’s a performance vehicle!’ but that center of gravity and that weight is always going to limit not only how fast it is around the race track but how confidence-inspiring and fun it is too.”
The verdict? Well, driving enthusiasts probably knew it already. If you’re looking for fun, a crossover is probably never going to be the way to go — as long as low-slung sports cars continue being made, that is.
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Kurt Verlin was born in France and lives in the United States. Throughout his life he was always told French was the language of romance, but it was English he fell in love with. He likes cats, music, cars, 30 Rock, Formula 1, and pretending to be a race car driver in simulators; but most of all, he just likes to write about it all. See more articles by Kurt.