FOUR-comma-seven-five seconds. That’s all it took to catapult this 2,2-tonne Umber metallic (read: brown) projectile from standstill to 100 km/h; that’s less than a tenth of a second from Porsche’s claimed sprint time.
CAR’s clinical road test figures of Zuffenhausen’s top-of-the-range SUV (for the moment, at least; there should be Turbo S in the future) tell only a part of the story. Whereas the products that are regarded as rivals to the Cayenne Turbo make their presence known with pimped-out rims and showy body kits, the differences between this model and its lesser-specified brethren are limited to an enlarged grille, deeper-sculpted front bumper and quad exhaust tips protruding from the rear of the vehicle. The yellow callipers peeking through the five-spoke rims shod with 21-inch booties are the only give- away that this Turbo’s equipped with the optional Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (a snip at just under R145 000).
But, then the Cayenne Turbo was always meant to be both understated as well as devastatingly fast. It will despatch the kilometre sprint in 23,77 seconds with a terminal speed of 221,77 km/h, but it’s the SUV’s in-gear forced-induction grunt that astounds. The Turbo accelerated from 80 km/h to 120 km/h in 3,09 seconds and, although the engine note of the 4,8-litre twin-turbo V8 is muted – at least compared with the din generated by an AMG-fettled motor – and the elevated driving position does blunt a driver’s sense of sheer speed, a glance at the speedometer during full acceleration can be an eye-opening experience.
As a means of everyday family transport, the performance-oriented Turbo does not demand too much in the way of com-promise from its driver and occupants. This test unit, fitted as standard with an air suspension but additionally specified with Porsche’s Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) system, offered up a firm but satisfyingly absorbent ride quality. Both throttle and brake pedals are progressive in feel and easy to modulate but, when used in anger, respond to inputs with necessary vigour. When attacking a challenging piece of hardtop, the Turbo’s steering feels sharp if somewhat devoid of feedback and, although the maximum torque of 700 N.m is available between 2 250 and 4 500 r/min, there is a slight delay, as if there is a hint of lag or the engine and trans-mission need to confer for a brief moment, before full acceleration ensues. Sport mode does sharpen responses, however, and should you feel the inclination, shifts can be actuated via paddles when required. The consensus of the test team was that it would be preferable for Porsche to offer a sports steering wheel that features shift paddles as well as remote audio and menu toggles.
As an on-road performance machine, which happens to be a full-sized SUV, the Turbo does not disappoint. The abundance of grip offered by the test unit’s sticky Michelin Latitude Sport gumboots, in conjunction with the commendable body control delivered by the PDCC system, result in confidence-inspiring cornering ability should it be called for by the Cayenne’s owner.
As an everyday ownership proposition, on the other hand, the Turbo offers interior build quality and finishes that rank among the best on offer in the luxury off-roader market. The test unit was trimmed in an appetising Umber/Light Tartufo two-tone combination that contrasted well with the brushed-metal facia accents and further had a tilt/slide sunroof, electric roller blinds for the rear side windows as well as a Burmester high-end surround sound system, all of which added just over R95 000 to the Turbo’s list price.
The layout of the sloping facia and centre console foregoes a universal control interface in favour of a multitude of stacked buttons for virtually each of the Porsche’s adaptable features that does require some familiarisation. Some testers also remarked that the compass located at the crest of the dashboard seemed at odds with the Turbo’s on-road bias, but those were small criticisms of otherwise excellent interior ergonomics.
With luxurious and comfortable accommodation for four, compelling performance and handling characteristics and an upmarket, yet understated, image, the Cayenne Turbo may represent the best blend of on-road prowess and SUV status.
The dynamic abilities of vehicles in the class of the Turbo are lofty indeed, but the likelihood that they’d be exploited at regular intervals are less than average, therefore it is difficult to choose between these super SUVs – let alone justify their premiums over lesser-equipped, yet competent stablemates.
The Turbo is comfortably more expensive than the rivals we selected for the purposes of comparison in this test, but in the minds of selected buyers, who require the most potent Cayenne that their money can buy (as the market currently stands), this machine has no competitors whatsoever.