Torrance, California – This surprisingly ordinary-looking Toyota Land Cruiser is actually not standard at all; it’s a one-off record-breaker designed and built specifically to take the title of “World’s Fastest SUV” away from Brabus.

And when it says non-standard, Toyota North America isn’t kidding. The petrolheads at Toyota’s Motorsports Technical Centre in Torrance started by stripping the Land Cruiser’s 5.7-litre V8 and installing uprated piston and con rods, along with ‘other key items’.

Then they bolted on a custom inlet manifold and two volleyball-sized Garrett turbochargers, capable of pushing 3.7 bar of boost between them, for a quoted engine output of ‘over 1500kW’, driving the rear wheels only via a custom racing transmission strong enough to stand up to 1500kW at 370km/h.

But that kind of speed also creates its own chassis and stability issues, so the seven-seater, three-ton Megayota was lowered, its chassis tweaked to maintain optimum suspension geometry and its track was actually narrowed by 75mm to accommodate wider Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres.

After some test runs at Toyota’s Arizona Proving Ground, the Land Speed Cruiser was trailered to the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California, which is not only one of the very few places in the United States where supersonic flight is legal, it also has a 4000 metre paved runway, which just might be long enough to get the super-SUV up to terminal velocity.

First Toyota test driver Craig Stanton warmed up the monster SUV with a 316km/h pass, then he handed over the hot seat to recently retired Nascar Toyota driver Carl Edwards, who equalled the Brabus record of 337.6km/h on his very first pass down the runway – but then had to stand on everything to stop it before he ran out of tar.

So for the final pass, they screwed the wastegates down as hard as they dared and told Edwards not to back off.

'Keep your foot in it'

“At 360, the thing was wandering a little bit,” Edwards said afterwards. “All I could think of was Craig saying, ‘No matter what, just keep your foot in it,’ and that’s what I did.”

The result was a GPS-verified 368.032km/h, making this officially the fastest SUV on the planet, even if it is neither street-legal nor commercially available, as is the Mercedes-based Brabus GLK V12.

The truly scary thing, however, is that Edwards said the Cruiser had not stopped accelerating when he had to hit the brakes. Given more room, he insists it could have gone faster; does he know that there is a 4900 metre runway at Upington airport in the Northern Cape?

IOL Motoring

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