Is the new Porsche Cayenne Turbo S a ‘top athlete with SUV styling’? No. Actually, having driven it, we think it’s a lot simpler than that…
|Engine||Power||Torque||0-100kph||Top speed||Weight||Basic price|
|V8, twin-turbocharged, 4806cc||550hp @ 6000rpm||553lb ft @ 2550-4500rpm||4.5 secs||283kph||2215kg||$171,950|
This is the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, a newer, faster version of the Cayenne Turbo. And aesthetically, there’s little to tell them apart. The comme ce comme ca Cayenne looks on the outside remain, including the gaping front grille, rooflip spoiler and rippled bonnet. Both models are festooned with lashings of two-tone leather and high quality upholstery trim (and a stonking great transmission tunnel that takes up more room than you might expect). Indeed, from the outside, only gloss black 21-inch 911 Turbo II alloys and air intakes give the game away.
Unsurprisingly, both are also powered by the same 4.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8, though it’s here that the real difference lies. Along with the ‘S’ badges adorning rear panels, door sills and headrests comes adjustments to the compressors in the dual water-cooled turbochargers and the motor controllers connected to them. Said tweaks bump power in the Turbo S up to 550hp (50hp more than the Turbo and 29hp more than the previous generation S) and the torque up to 553lb ft (37lb ft and 23lb ft more respectively), netting a new top speed of 283kph and a 0-100kph time of 4.5 seconds. It marks the S as Porsche’s new flagship SUV and, as the company itself claims, a ‘top athlete with an SUV styling’.
All very impressive. But here’s the problem. I don’t get it.
crankandpiston recently tested the new Cayenne GTS (twice), a sport-tuned, race-inspired version of the Cayenne designed to drive like a sportscar but which boasted the practicalities of an SUV. Problem is when you stiffen the suspension and throw a couple of bucket seats into a 2085kg SUV, you invariably compromise both its sportiness and its practicality, as was the case in the GTS. It’s a similar situation with the Turbo S: this ‘athlete’ is spacious, comfortable and very practical, but boasts more power than a Nissan GT-R, which it is unable to fully utilise through the corners thanks to a 2215kg kerb weight and suspension designed to iron out the dips in the road. So with that in mind, what’s the point of an additional 50hp aside from a couple of extra zeroes on the asking price?
That’s not to say that the handling in the Turbo S is bad. Far from it. Alongside the Porsche Active Suspension Management and all-wheel drive configuration found on the Turbo, the S also boasts Porsche’s dynamic chassis control, which eliminates bodyroll in the corners by automatically adjusting suspension settings to counter what the system believes to be aggressive inputs through the steering. It’s an effective system, as is enormous amounts of grip through the tyres and good feel for the front end thanks to heft at the steering wheel. At the core however, the Turbo S is still an SUV that stands nearly six-feet tall. With such a high centre of gravity, bodyroll – however slight – is inevitable and thus ruins any momentum built up when the beans are being given. The enormous 390mm ventilated stoppers do a good job (with plenty of feel through the pedal), but stopping distances will always be in the SUV range.
And now there’s an additional 50hp to contend with, leaving some notable question marks over this particular ‘athlete’.
That was until I realised I’d made a mistake.
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