Super sports car versus tank – are we allowed do that? We dare to compare the extremes. On the road with 2663 hp.
The signs are clear: dilated pupils, a fast pulse, sweaty armpits. Fear! Yes, fear. Fear of a car. In a journalist working for a car magazine! Well, what would you do if 1184 hp were screaming at you from a supertuned six-cylinder engine? Instinct tells you: Be careful, Stefan, I don’t think it just wants to play. Just be brave now, even though the boxer engine saws as restlessly in the rear as if it wants to attack you. Its message is clear: You, my dear driver, are not strong enough for me!
Mission: High Flyer
Tank versus supersports car? We dare to compare the extremes – on track with 2663 hp.
Well, we'll see about that. After all, a very different kind of car is also waiting for me on this not-so-ordinary testing day. Here in Munster, on the German military's largest training base, I am getting twice what I asked for. I have signed up for Mission "High Flyer". Today, the two strongest vehicles in Germany are awaiting my command. It's too late to go AWOL now anyway. And don't they say that a good attack is the best defense? Let's do it, and try not to think of the fact that this 9ff super rocket is worth nearly 250,000 Euros. It's still downright cheap as compared to the Leo. Taxpayers pay about three million for one of those.
A Furious Porsche
9ff squeezes 1184 hp out of the Porsche 911 Turbo. Tuned up that hard the convertible runs 233 mph.
Gear selector switch to D, add throttle carefully. Who would've thought that the hot Eleven starts up just like an ordinary Golf. Ok, maybe a bit faster, but similarly unspectacularly. Then the tach’s needle climbs to 4000 rpm. You can‘t believe how quickly this beast takes you to redline. Your head hits the headrest hard, the skin on your face is drawn taut towards the ears, your arms grow longer and longer. The test road seemed to stretch to the horizon just a moment ago, but now the end of it is coming up pretty fast. Red alert! The car doesn't want to stop accelerating! A short break when changing gears as the two wastegates spit out the superfluous charge pressure. Next gear. The 9ff again rockets forward. The engine‘s suppleness is even more impressive than its short-distance sprinting skills. It accelerates from 62 to 124 in only 3.6 seconds.
A Giant Machine Needs a Giant Engine
47,6 liters: Each of its twelve cylinders has nearly the same displacement as the entire Porsche engine.
In the meantime, colleague Robin Hornig has made himself comfortable in the Leopard. He knows how things work around here. He used to be a Bundeswehr officer, though he was with the Navy and that doesn‘t really help him now. It also means that he can't drive without a proper license, so taking the passenger seat has to be enough although that doesn't mean that he has a more comfortable place. He is standing upright in a narrow hole on slippery steel grilles. The commander is to his right, and the driver is sitting somewhere in the depths of the 57.3-ton steel monster, and he’s getting the twelve-cylinder engine into fighting mood. Surprisingly supple, the brutal vehicle gathers momentum. Each of its twelve cylinders has nearly the same displacement as the entire Porsche engine. It makes the ground tremble, reminiscent of a ship‘s giant diesel. A fog of diesel mist hides everything from view for long seconds. We realize: Private Leo is not made for inner cities suffering from particulate pollution.
The Leopard Doesn't Know Any Obstacles
Leo is in his element – the 9ff turns green with envy.
At a quick command, the Leopard starts up with a jerk. The chains clatter on the asphalt. This really isn‘t its element. To seriously challenge Germany‘s strongest, we have to take this feral animal into the wild and off the road. Leo climbs up slopes that would topple every Mercedes G-model. It marches through trenches four meters deep as if they were mere puddles. If there‘s a small wall in the way, it will go right through. Well, that‘s our Leo! Sailor Hornig, by contrast, is dripping wet after a first run through water. Ah! No one ever claimed riding a tank was for wimps. Meanwhile, I turn on the heated seat in the 9ff.
The Photographer Commands
Full power back: Leopard and 9ff GTronic in the brake test. From 50 km/h, the sports car with its ceramic brakes will stop an entire car length faster.
Now photographer Sven wants to see something spectacular. "Drive cloooooooose together," he calls. It sounds like an order. We‘ve done it a thousand times on the test route with ordinary test cars. But if Leo is crunching his chains next to you and coughing like an asthmatic chain smoker, there’s no way you can hold the wheel calmly. A word of advice: If you ever meet a Leopard out in the wilderness, leave as much distance as possible. Tanks supposedly brake a lot better than cars do. That’s what I’ve been told, anyway. We try it. We accelerate our powerhouses to 50 km/h and drop anchor. The tank lifts its tail and rubber pieces go flying. It’s got to decelerate almost 40 tons after all. Then the steel giant is standing still, an entire car length behind the 9ff. The ceramic brakes compress the Eleven as if it had just run into a wall.
We're both sore at the end of this 2663 hp day. My neck hurts from the acceleration, and Hornig got a few bruises while off-roading. We're a great team, I think on the way back. No one but AUTO BILD could have this kind of crazy idea.
Germany's strongest vehicles in the AUTO BILD military test. Tip your helmet to these two fascinating powerhouses. Finest technology made in Germany. The winner is clear. The Leo can flatten the 9ff – but first it has to catch it ...