This thing is the Black Panzer. That isn’t meant to be a play on “Germanglish”—the G-Power X5 M typhoon is far from a kitty cat.
When BMW released the X5 in 2000, it was a gutsy move. People were skeptical and confused. What was it? It looked like an overweight car on stilts. But enough were curious that it became a huge hit, opening the door for most other car companies to do the same. Thus, the SUV market exploded.
In 2004, BMW upped the ante with the 355-hp 4.6is, raging a center-stage boxing match against Mercedes-Benz’s similarly powered ML55 AMG. The BMW won. This spawned several other 400-plus-hp SUVs like the Mercedes ML63 AMG, Jeep SRT-8 and the very fast Porsche Cayenne Turbo.
In 2011, in a totally unsympathetic move, BMW did the unthinkable. With a massive jab akin to Mohammed Ali’s, BMW silenced the competition with the release of the X5 M, with a twin-turbo V8 rated at a whopping 550 hp. Against the ropes, BMW’s opponents are seeing stars, but we’re certain they aren’t out cold. They’ll be back with more. In the meantime, G-Power has capitalized, upping its ante against the rest of the SUV performance world with its own rendition of the X5 M, dubbed the Typhoon.
When you walk up to it, it’s intimidating, like the Panzer Maus (that’s a German WWII tank, by the way)—only with hidden guns all aimed right your privates. My knees knock as I approach. The Typhoon is immense and just under three inches bulkier than the already-wide X5 M. I love the X5 M’s factory stance, but this one really means business.
The G-Power body kit appears flawless and factory in terms of quality and fitment. The firm achieves this using PU RIM technology as well as state-of-the-art computer aided design (CAD). Its full-vehicle digitized three-dimensional scanner also makes sure G-Power gets it right the first time when it goes from its several renditions on the computer to real-life production.
G-Power spared no expense in the creation of the Typhoon body kit, spending a reported $2 million dollars in development and production. “Just the mold for the front bumper cost us €40,000 ($56K),” says G-Power’s Christian Stoeber. “This is what it takes to get just one part to fit like it would from BMW direct.”
The body kit isn’t just about looks, however. G-Power’s signature front bumper reportedly adds an additional 15 percent greater cooling efficiency to the engine’s radiator, oil cooler and intercoolers, as well as the front brakes. The in-house-designed bumper also reportedly succeeds in reducing aerodynamic lift over the front axles at speed, providing greater turning response at high speed—important in a car this big.
The carbon-reinforced hood gives the car a very aggressive look. Its louvers, however, play an important role in evacuating heat coming from each exhaust manifold, as well as the radiator. This keeps high intake temperatures at bay, ensuring all the horses are ready to charge.
The wheel arches allow 2.75 inches more girth, not only giving it a massively wide stance but room for more high-performance rubber up front—in this case Michelin Pilot Sport 315/25R23 tires at all corners wrapped around G-Power Silverstone RS modular forged wheels that were extensively designed for this package. The stance is further enhanced with a 1.2-inch drop from the factory X5 M ride height.
In the rear, the diffuser gives it not just a meaner look but succeeds in keeping lift to a minimum at speed. It also houses G-Power’s exhaust system for this car, which finishes with two menacing looking 114 mm (4.5-inch) exhaust tips.
The exhaust upgrade doesn’t stop with the tailpipes you see out back. G-Power also installed its own exhaust manifolds and stainless center section featuring two high-flow cats for optimum release of backpressure, while keeping the car’s emissions and noise levels in check. This, coupled with the better cooling up front, allows the engine to fully benefit from G-Power’s software tune, returning a 730 hp with an earth-twisting 656 lb-ft of torque that comes alive at just 2000 rpm, according to the company.
G-Power tells us this torque figure is also electronically limited to save the transmission. For customers that demand more, the firm rebuilds the transmission to sturdier standards and allows the software to release full boost from the turbochargers, giving off an extra 100 lb-ft of torque.
The interior of the car could pretty much be its own feature. G-Power supplied this car with its signature components, including a sportier steering wheel with all factory controls, G-Power speedometer and carbon-fiber trim on the door panels. The rest of the interior, including all seats that were replaced with sportier units, was completed in Alcantara. While the company allows its customers to choose from a variety of color combos, this one was done with G-Power’s signature orange.
My knees knock as I approach. The Typhoon is immense and just under three inches bulkier than the already-wide X5 M.
As mentioned, this car is intimidating just walking around it, let alone driving it. But once you get in it, it’s as if it turned into an Autobot, transforming around you. You feel at one with it. It feels like the perfect daily driver. In fact, the owner of this car uses it for his daily driving needs when he doesn’t feel like putting miles on his Mercedes SLS, TechArt Porsche 997 Turbo, Audi R8 V10 Spyder or Ferrari 458 Italia.
Fire it up and the exhaust note isn’t a deep V8 rumble that I remember from the X6 Xdrive50i press launch, but more of a refined note you’d hear from an exotic. It doesn’t sound like it belongs in an SUV—and the menacing rev-matching downshifts accentuate that fact. To be honest, the engine note sounds akin to the high-revving V10 found in the E60 M5.
Driving this car, it just doesn’t feel right. I’ve never driven a really fast SUV so I have nothing to really compare it to, except to say the only time I experience acceleration this hard and sit so high is when I’m taking off in an airplane. But in a plane it’s smooth, and seemingly under control.
With its all-wheel drive I knew this Panzer would grip, but given its size I didn’t expect it to pull so suddenly. With fingers on paddle shifters I floored the pedal in First gear and at 3500 rpm; the thing pulled so hard I executed a perfectly timed redline shift into Second gear before reaching 60 mph, which it will do in a scant 4.1 seconds. Given the shift, my passenger thought this was just another ho-hum day at the office for me, but little did he know it happened in a startled attempt to grip the steering wheel harder and save my neck from whiplash. I winked over at him and the words “very smooth” came out of my quivering lips.
If the X5 M is supposed to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, G-Power’s X5 Typhoon is more like a fire-breathing dragon, and I was picturing myself trying to manhandle it, in hopes that my ugly Avatar buddies would call me Toruk Makto.
Thank goodness for all-wheel drive, since I haven’t had too much practice sliding 5,400 pounds’ worth of otherwise-soon-to-be twisted metal. The factory four-piston binders stop the car remarkably well, too.
How fast will it tour the autobahn, you ask? I didn’t have the gall to find out, but this aerodynamic defiant will reportedly do 190 mph. I’m not paid enough verify that, but it’s easy to believe, given the info comes from the same company that uploaded videos of its 231 mph and 207 mph blasts on YouTube, in a twin-supercharged M5 and supercharged M3, respectively. There’s definitely something wrong with these G-Power guys.
G-Power X5 M Typhoon
Longitudinal front engine, all-wheel drive
4.4-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve, twin-turbocharged. G-Power exhaust system, software
Wheels and Tires
G-Power Silverstone RS alloys, 23-inch
Michelin Pilot Sport PS2, 315/25
G-Power front bumper, hood, rear diffuser
Peak Power: 720 hp @ 6000 rpm
Peak Torque: 656 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm
0-60 mph: 4.1 sec.
Top Speed: 190 mph