After driving the new third-generation Porsche Cayenne Turbo, we’re starting to wonder how much more blurry the line between sports cars and utility vehicles can get? At 286km/h, quite blurry…
Confession: I have never been a fan of the Porsche Cayenne. The ride is so brittle your vertebral column punctures your brain every time you go over a speed hump, the rear room is as claustrophobic as solitary confinement in a Panamanian correctional facility and it looks like a startled 911, albeit one that’s not allowed within 30 metres of any all-you-can-eat buffet in town. However, every time I’ve driven a Cayenne, fully satiated on my prejudices, I have come back impressed. It’s like wanting to punch selected facial features of Justin Bieber, and then a glance at his body of work makes you reconsider your decision… OK, maybe that’s a bad analogy, but you know what I mean. It’s been an automobile-shaped spite receptacle for me, but for no apparent reason. Apart from the ones I mentioned above, obviously. Every time I drive one I feel shattering disappointment at my lack of disappointment in the car.
With the new 2018 Porsche Cayenne Turbo it’s happened again. This thing is quite possibly the best fast SUV on the market today. And I use the term SUV loosely here. Let me explain. With those optional 21-inch wheels and low-profile tyres every time you as much as take it near a serious off-road trail it drops to its knees, sobbing uncontrollably and clutching at your trouser legs pleading to return home. And heed its pitiful cries you should, because with a price tag of just short of six hundred grand (starting…), it’s not an SUV you would want to prang.
However, hit the blacktop and the new Cayenne Turbo turns into a vengeful monster that gleefully unsheathes its Megalodon-sized fangs, as it pummels you with its incredible straight line acceleration and cornering abilities. It is absolutely insane on the road. This being a serious car review I will toss some specs your way: the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 makes 550 horsepower, zero to 100km/h is decimated in 4.1 seconds, and the top speed sits at a suitably impressive 286km/h. The only thing that possibly feels more rapid is the Bentley Bentayga. And that’s twice as expensive and 17 times more ostentatious.
Porsche have, annoyingly, been their pedantic self with this new car. It’s got rear-axle steering to help you corner tighter, while a new three-chamber air-suspension keeps things nice and level. It also gets an active rear spoiler like the Panamera Sport Turismo. The ride quality has improved too, with your cranial matter no longer under threat of slow, agonising leakage over some rough bit of road. Looks? I’m still ambivalent. It’s not disastrous, but there are aesthetically more appealing cars out there. It’s got 3D Porsche graphics on the taillights, though…
Dynamics is something Porsche prides itself over and there is some babble about “sports car together” or something. The Cayenne Turbo does however feel like a curious unholy mash-up between a hot hatch and a sports saloon that’s being driven on tippy toes. At no point does it feel wieldy like an SUV, and I guess that’s a good thing.
The cabin is lavishly put together, with lots of leather, piano black elements and a distinct lack of buttons. Which is a slight problem because the massive 12.3-inch touchscreen and the haptic controls, apart from dictating most in-vehicle commands, also moonlight as a fingerprint collector. Oh, and the AC vents are stupid. It’s almost like they can sense my preconceptions and in a form of pathetic protest refuse to blow cool air over my face.
You can raise or lower the ride height if you want to “lord over other motorists” or fly low when you’re driving like a body part, but either way, it’s a curious amalgam of devastating ability, misplaced ambition and contrived proclamations.
As a fast SUV, and I really have to push my self to utter these words, it is next to none. Range Rover SVR, BMW X5 M and whatever bonkers Q7 Audi makes these days (they all look the same, so it’s difficult to keep track), the Cayenne Turbo makes all of them look like bumbling participants in Amateur Hour in comparison.
Perhaps my despondence at being unable to slate the Cayenne is palpable, but this third-generation car is quite something.
Porsche Cayenne Turbo
4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 | eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive | 550bhp @ 5,750rpm and 770Nm of torque @ 1,960rpm | 0-100km/h in 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 286km/h | From AED582,000