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First Drive: Porsche Cayenne Turbo 5dr Tiptronic S


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Ah, I’d forgotten about
the Cayenne in all the hullaballoo surrounding the new Range Rover Sport.

you might have done, which is why Porsche has launched a brand new model – the
Turbo S. Which is borderline unhinged. OK, it’s been out a few months now, but
that does nothing to lessen its impact. Especially in bright red, with a bright
red leather interior.

But Porsche already has a
Cayenne Turbo.

does, and at £89,324 with 493bhp, it’s a nose-on rival for the £81,550, 503bhp
Range Rover Sport supercharged (which
you can read about here
). But maybe the 10bhp shortfall, not to mention
the recent introduction of the £83,655 and 518bhp Mercedes ML63 AMG, plus the
imminent arrival of a new BMW X5, made Porsche realise it was no longer top
dog. So it’s added an S to the badge and £18,136 to the bill.

What? How does it justify

also adding more power. The Turbo S’s uprated 4.8-litre twin turbo V8 now
champs about with 542bhp at 6000rpm and 553lb ft of torque from 2250-4500rpm.
This results in a 175mph top whack and the ability to scorch to 62mph in
4.5secs. It feels considerably faster than that.

See more pics of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S 


I drove the Mercedes A45 AMG the other day, which claims 0-62mph in 4.6secs.
This thing utterly monsters it. To be fair, the surrealism of an SUV that is a
capable of such feats of acceleration, combined with the height you’re sitting
at and the sheer momentum packaged up, means the Turbo S probably feels a
bit faster than it actually is. All the same, I’ve not driven another SUV
with the same headbanging mentality. Everywhere you go, you charge. You need to
have it in Comfort suspension with the Sport light unlit to calm it down a
touch. Do that and you’ll open the Cayenne up to its duality.

It’s a good cruiser?

an exceptional cruiser. It’s got eight gears and the second of them is good for
75mph. The eighth pulls about 45mph per thousand revs, so UK motorways are
tackled at well under 2000rpm, and as a result economy hovers around 23-25mpg
(Porsche claims 24.6mpg and 270g/km). It’s quiet and well insulated inside, but
like our long-term BMW 640d Gran Coupe, the softness of the primary ride is
offset by wheel grumble from the massive alloys – 21-inches across. It doesn’t
feel at its most natural in Comfort mode.

Sport mode is what’s
needed then?

because I think it’s too stiff and jouncy for UK roads. It tries so hard to
control the movements of its 2215kg mass that the vertical hopping can become
unpleasant and actually rob you of some confidence in the car.

See more pics of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S 

Is there a ‘Goldilocks’

works just fine. Now you can press the sport button to sharpen up the throttle
and gearchanges and really make the most of this car. The huge 295/35 tyres
grip so hard and the speed the Turbo S can carry around corners before
unleashing its turbo torrent down the straights is mind-boggling. There’s real
ability here, backed up by mighty, mighty ceramic brakes (once you get into the
meat of the travel).

Any downsides?

yeah, it weighs over two tons and it’s an SUV. Surprising how easy it is to
forget that when you’re tramping on, because my word does the Cayenne manage
its weight well. My only proper complaint is the steering which is too slow geared
for the grip and immediacy with which the front wheels turn – in other words
you have to use more lock at corners than you feel is right. The steering is
also too light and lacking in any feel. It’s something else that dents your
confidence slightly.

What’s the cabin like?

bit overwrought on our test car (pictured above) – red leather is a bit Eighties Lambo for my
tastes. But have it in a subtler shade and you’ll appreciate the chunkily
padded seats, the sheer rightness of the driving position and the fabulous quality
and control layout. The design might not have the Range Rover Sport’s panache,
but I think it has the edge in other areas. But not seat count – the Cayenne is
a strict five-seater, where the beefy Brit offers the option of seven.

Speaking of which, is it
a better car than the Range Rover Sport?

here’s where you’ve caught us out. We can’t tell you at the moment, as I never
got a chance to drive the Range Rover, and Sam Philip, who drove the Range
Rover, never got his claws into the Cayenne. From chatting things through we
reckon the Cayenne has the edge for speed and dynamics, but the Sport makes a
better fist of comfort and habitability. It also sounds better than the
Porsche, which is bassy and roars at you from a distance, but not as rude as you
hope it might be. That said, neither sounds as good as the Merc ML63 AMG. That
makes a proper racket.

Anything else you want to
get off your chest?

that the Turbo S, while being the ultimate Cayenne, probably isn’t the best. In
fact you could consider it an irrelevance now the real world speed of the
£59,053 Cayenne S diesel is here with the combined promise of 34.0mpg and
0-62mph in 5.7secs from its 4.2-litre, 377bhp V8 diesel. Which also has the
small matter of 626lb ft of torque. And if you want a hardcore Cayenne, there’s
the £68,117 GTS – naturally aspirated 4.8, 414bhp, 0-62mph in the same time as
the diesel. But sharper to drive, much sharper to drive. However, as one tool
to defeat them all, the Cayenne Turbo S is ridiculously capable. I have to say
that even in I’m-a-n*b red with porn star interior, it’s one of my guilty
pleasures. I’d give it an 8/10 if it weren’t so stratospherically priced. Let’s
call it a good 7.

See more pics of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S 

What do you think?

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