Invader L60 offers sheer exclusivity
They say if you want things done properly, you have to do them yourself. I'm not surprised then, to find Invader Technologies' co-founder and managing director, Takashi Tanii, on his knees when I arrive half an hour early at The Meydan Hotel for the official Middle East launch of the Invader L60.
Wearing a crisp black suit, his head is almost touching the sandy floor as he busily wipes off tiny remnants of polish from the lower lip of the front bumper of a brutal looking, all black L60 a heavily customised Lexus LX 570.
"Can I give you a hand?" I hesitantly enquire. I'm worried he'll actually throw me a piece of cloth to finish off the other L60, this one white, then make me come back the next day to polish it again, like the wax on, wax off' scene from the Karate Kid.
Fortunately, Tanii springs up, dusts himself down and declines my offer. He holds out a hand and crushes mine with a firm shake, speaking quickly, and in Japanese. Thankfully, Dmitry Krivtsov, international sales director of Invader is on hand to catch my bemused expression and begins to translate: "Mr Tanii says, if you want things done right, you must do them yourself."
I'd figured that part out already.
Working in close partnership with tuning firm ASI, which worked its magic on the Bentley Continental and Ferrari F430, Invader Technologies has turned its attention to the LX 570. Tuning in Japan is something of an art form, and proof of the pudding are the two gleaming L60s sitting side by side.
They look like they belong on the set of a futuristic action film. If the Terminator could have had a car in those explosive movies, it'd be this, but with rocket launchers and machine guns attached. Even without the weaponry, the L60 looks like it could kill with a blast of its carbon-tipped quad exhausts. It looks very angry.
The design team has cut loose and created the wildest look possible by developing a new bodykit. The front fascia has been completely redesigned with the Invader logo sitting proudly on top of the front grille. A new bumper with bigger air intakes, fog lights, carbon fibre elements and LED daytime running lights also finds a home on the body. The L60 also gets new side skirts and a two-tone finish. It rides on a clean set of bespoke rims, gloss black on the white L60, gold on the black one. It also has a significant drop in height and in all honesty, it looks evil. There seem to be some Porsche Cayenne design cues here, only it is far, far more extreme.
Inside, a rich red leather interior hand stitched to perfection is dripping with carbon fibre. The redesigned leather and carbon wrapped sports steering wheel, carbon shift knob and carbon interior panels add to the drama.
It also features an illuminated door step and original steel pedal plates and offers luxury of the highest quality something that Japan is respected for in the automotive world.
It's under the skin where the really radical changes lie. The 5.7-litre V8 lump found in the LX 570, which itself is good for a healthy 382bhp, has been tuned to dizzying new heights.
It may be a Lexus underneath, but the L60 looks nothing like the big, friendly, family hauler we see on our roads. It's been transformed from front to back and though the 22in multi-piece forged alloys, red Alcantara interior and widebody kit are all very impressive, the best thing about it is that it now has a face melting 600bhp 218bhp more than the original.
This thing will hit 100kph in just 5.5 seconds from a standstill, while the stock version can only muster that figure in 7.4 seconds. It hasn't been run flat out yet, but I'm reliably informed that it will easily reach 260kph. How have they managed such a vast increase in power? Well, the L60 features a specially crafted supercharger, a modified ECU which took three months to develop, new air intakes and a completely new exhaust system.
Bringing this beast to a halt is a top of the range heavy duty brake system with larger discs and callipers; six pot for the front and four for the rear. An optional 12 and six pot configuration can be had to further improve braking.
Targeting both exterior styling and engine performance, the tuning firm has done a truly remarkable job. The body of the L60 is as obnoxiously loud as the exhaust note. It's one of those things that makes you feel like a child again, and it certainly put a big smile on my face. A start button awakens the massaged powerplant and the rumble from the exhausts sounds like the world around you is caving in even when it's just sitting there, idling.
Stomp on the accelerator, and you are literally shoved back in your seat as if you have suffered a roundhouse kick in the gut from Chuck Norris. The plush, padded chairs swallow you up as the full fury of the supercharged V8 is unleashed on to the road below. But, you'll either love or hate the whine of the blower. For me, it's a little overbearing and does not relent unless you step off the pedal. That constant whirr is irritating as the lovely deep growl of the V8 hardly registers over it.
Keep your foot floored and before you know it, you are touching the 100kph mark and the monster still keeps on pulling relentlessly. At high speed, the L60 is totally planted and there's none of the nervousness you'd expect in a car this large. The ride quality is superb too as the suspension and chubby tyres help to cushion bumpy surfaces. Forward visibility is fine but your view is partially blocked when looking back past the two rows of seats behind you. The steering feels slightly woolly and is not responsive enough for an SUV of this size. Plus, you'll need legs the size of Schwarzenegger's during his heyday to push the brake pedal as hard as possible, and earlier than you usually would, to slow down. There's just way too much power and weight here for the stoppers to cope with. Perhaps taming this wild animal is part of the fun, but Dmitry assures me Invader is already working on improving its breed.
I jump out and watch as another hack clambers in and speeds off into the distance, and it's only then that I realise what a colossal, aggressive beast the L60 is. But I also realise that seeing one drive past is as much fun as being behind the wheel. Both are experiences that will live long in the memory.
Only 100 L60s will be built and my guess is most will find a home here in the UAE. Better start saving those dirhams, because each will set you back a staggering Dh1.2 million. For that, you can have a Bentley Continental Supersports and enough cash left over to buy a Camaro SS two cars I would dearly love. But the L60 offers sheer exclusivity that many in our parts will not be able to turn down. If you want to be seen and heard, then this is for you.
Introverts, cover your eyes. And ears.
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