Driven: Porsche Cayenne Turbo

New Turbo looks menacing in black
New Turbo looks menacing in black
When the Prius was the only hybrid in town, I quite liked it. More for it's gadgetry than its performance, although it did make a surprisingly refined and comfortable little cruiser and probably still does.

The rear view is improved, too
The rear view is improved, too
Now everyone's at it and the novelty is wearing a bit thin, but even so I was disappointed not to be moved by the new Porsche Cayenne hybrid. As a luxury SUV with purported green credentials it's a solid (no, make that vigorous) performer, and will sell like hot cakes to company directors with Corporate Social Responsibility PR agendas and badge-conscious school-running 'yummy mummies'. And it's a Porsche, so of course it feels quick and handles tautly for a two-and-a-bit ton leviathan. But the flies in the ointment are a blown 3.0 Audi V6 petrol engine that sounds a little over-strained when harried, quite a lot of indistinct 'white noises' at higher (than allowed in the UK) motorway speeds and... well, to put it crudely, a lack of anything much likely to give performance car fans wood. Each to their own though, and for a more traditional audience Porsche has evolved the new Cayenne Turbo. The little blue pills can stay in the jar...

Still stonkingly fast through the twisties as well as away from the traffic lights, the latest Turbo benefits just as much as the new hybrid and diesel models from a series of improvements designed to keep the Cayenne at the head of the luxury SUV pack. These include a new 8-speed Tiptronic S auto box, torque-vectoring and tweaks to the 4x4 and stability systems, revised steering and a 185kg fat reduction plan.

The new model looks nicer as well (surely?) inside and out, to the point of having morphed into something altogether attractive. Or perhaps familiarity has made the porky Porsche concept easier to swallow. Either way, I didn't feel as much of a pariah as I expected to on the roads around Goodwood at the UK media launch of the full Cayenne range this week, even though the Turbo's 4.8-litre 500hp twin turbocharged V8 made it disarmingly easy to offend the genteel motorists of West Sussex. (Sorry to the grey-haired lady in the Honda Civic if you're reading this. But of course you won't be... chortle, smirk, etc.)

It's a fact that you'll be hard-pressed to drive a Cayenne Turbo without acting the road-hog, there's just too much fun to be had. Floor the throttle in any of its 8 gears (and with so many to call on it's rare that you'll know which one you're actually using) and the car leaps towards the horizon like a thing possessed. Stick it in sport mode for a bit of extra throttle response (why not, eh?) and the magnificent combination of limpet-like grip, extreme grunt and (crucially) a visually advantageous driving position mean you'll be picking-off grannies in their Jap-boxes on your favourite B-road while the so-called hot-hatch merchants are forced to fume and curse in 'Nana's wake. Yes, you will, because you won't be able to help yourself.

If you think that all sounds a bit juvenile you're right, which is probably why Porsche offered us the Goodwood circuit instead of local B-roads to better get to grips with the Cayenne Turbo's cartoon-land capabilities.

Suffice to say that the widely reported 'shock and awe' aspect of the original model's performance on the track is undiminished, and actively enhanced by a 'pointier' front end with steering upgrades and the newly available torque vectoring option that helps the car dig-in around medium and low (relatively) speed corners.

The Cayenne Turbo also gets air-sprung suspension as standard, and with active suspension management also included and optional Dynamic Chassis Control (active anti-roll stabilisers) it's hard to imagine a system that would deal more effectively with the loads imposed when hurling this 2170kg monster down the road. On the smooth, flowing Goodwood tarmac it always felt neat and composed, while out on the Sussex B-roads the ride offers a luxurious suppleness too. Regular Turbos get iron brake discs, but if you want to push the boat out a set of ceramic discs will set you back almost £6k. Perhaps that's an unnecessary luxury for road use, but they were brilliant at the track offering greatly improved response and precision (what do you mean, nobody would ever track a Cayenne..?) and I'd tick the box if my accountant thought I could afford it.

Talking of boxes, the new Cayenne Turbo ticks a lot of them. It's prestigious, supremely fast, and indecently good fun while offering the sort of practicality that most performance cars could never even dream of. Oh, and Porsche says that thanks mainly to the new 'box and weight savings, fuel consumption is 23 percent better than the old version at 24.6mpg combined. So go on, treat yourself, and help save the planet.

Cayenne Range Overview
The new generation Cayenne is priced as follows:

Cayenne £41,404
Cayenne Diesel £44,178
Cayenne S £53,693
Cayenne S Hybrid £57,610
Cayenne Turbo £81,589

Technical Summary

  Power Torque 0-62mph Top speed Combined mpg CO2 g/km
Cayenne 300hp 400Nm 7.8secs 143mph 28.5mpg 236
3.6-litre V6 petrol            
Active all-wheel drive            
Cayenne 240hp 550Nm 7.8secs 135mph 38.2mpg 195
3.0-litre V6 Diesel            
Permanent 4x4            
CayenneS 400hp 500Nm 5.9secs 160mph 26.9mpg 245
4.8-litre V8 petrol            
Active all-wheel drive            
CayenneS Hybrid 380hp 580Nm 6.5secs 150mph 34.4mpg 193
3.0-litre V6 supercharged petrol 333hp 440Nm        
& electric motor 47hp 300Nm        
Permanent 4x4            
CayenneTurbo 500hp 700Nm 4.7secs 172mph 24.6mpg 270
4.8-litre V8 petrol            
Active all-wheel drive            


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Comments (141) Join the discussion on the forum

  • adycav 10 Jun 2010

    It looks loads better and weighs a lot less.

    There's probably no better vehicle to tow your trailered historic 911 racing car with!

  • Fun Bus 10 Jun 2010

    I'm still not sure on the looks, need to see one in the flesh I think although these pictures make it look better than in pictures I've seen before.

    I'd still have a Range Rover over one of these though, all day long.

  • DaGuv 10 Jun 2010

    Awesome machine! I even like the new tweaks to the styling. At last they have sorted the look!

  • louismchuge 10 Jun 2010

    that fuel consumption stat is pretty impressive

  • [AJ] 10 Jun 2010

    I think for the very first time ever, I'm happy to say that I like the Cayenne. Aesthetically I still prefer the Range Rover, which to me, is quintessentially British and the benchmark of all 4x4s. However, I know the build quality and reliability of the RR wouldn't be a patch on the Cayenne.

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