Porsche Cayenne Turbo

The 911 for those who must have an SUV

Motor (Australia) - - FIRST FANG - by GEORG KACHER

EN­GINE 3996cc V8, DOHC, 32v, twin-turbo POWER 404kW @ 6000rpm TORQUE 770Nm @ 1960rpm WEIGHT 2175KG 0-100KM/H 4.1sec (claimed) PRICE $238,000 (est)

AT FACE value it seems strange to launch an SUV on a hill­climb, the Wall­berg hill­climb to be ex­act. Oh the times we live in. How­ever, this is a Porsche af­ter all and de­spite tip­ping the scales at al­most

2.2 tonnes, it feels very at home here. De­fy­ing physics, it seems, is no longer a nov­elty, but com­mon­place. Then again, the Cayenne Turbo’s stonk­ing twin-turbo V8, wide foot­print and Porsche-tuned chas­sis helps. Af­ter all, we might lust af­ter 911s, but it’s the vol­ume-sell­ing SUVs (Ma­can in­cluded) that are fa­cil­i­tat­ing the con­tin­ued de­vel­op­ment of the Ger­man mar­que’s per­for­mance cars.

Still, it’s a lit­tle oth­er­worldly to be need­ing pace notes in an SUV. Es­pe­cially on a stretch of tar­mac made fa­mous by the Porsche 909 Bergspy­der (which won the gob­let in 1976), an un­com­pro­mis­ing feath­er­weight 430kg ter­ror with a plas­tic body shell. But while the road un­der­neath the third-gen Cayenne is steeped in his­tory, the Porsche for the fam­ily has some stag­ger­ing num­bers to coun­ter­act its mass and the road.

How about a 404kW/770Nm twin­turbo V8 (thanks Panam­era) that, when op­tioned with the Sport Chrono Pack­age, can reach 100km/h in less than 4.0sec. That 3.9sec 0-100km/h time pre­cedes the equally stag­ger­ing 0-160km/h sprint of 9.2sec. Yet the best is yet to come. The Cayenne Turbo, all 2175kg of it, will charge on a wave of torque from 80km/h to 120km/h in 2.7sec, mak­ing over­tak­ing on any road a sim­ple flex of the right foot. No won­der we’re av­er­ag­ing 15.5L/100km when Porsche claims 11.9 is achiev­able. Yeah right.

So it’s safe to say that Stuttgart has the straight-line quo­tient cov­ered.

Yet, as has al­ready been men­tioned, we’re cur­rently on a fa­mous hill climb – not usu­ally some­thing you’d as­so­ciate with high-speed runs. Hit­ting the top speed of 286km/h isn’t go­ing to hap­pen here, then. In­stead the 2018 Cayenne Turbo is deal­ing with a poorly paved wrig­gle on the map which has barely been touched in the past half cen­tury. So let’s hop in, buckle up, take a deep breath and set off. Some 4000 me­tres of twisty tar­mac awaits. And it’s closed to the gen­eral pub­lic.

Luck­ily, our 404kW crack­er­jack is equipped with all the lat­est ac­tive and pas­sive safety wiz­ardries. From the get-go the Cayenne feels right at home on the curvy, zig-zag ter­rain

sprin­kled with wet leaves. As soon as the imag­i­nary che­quered flag drops, the Turbo takes off like a time warp with all the sys­tems locked in Per­for­mance Start mode. The first stretch is hardly two-sec­onds long, but that’s long enough for one whiplash up­shift from first into sec­ond – fol­lowed im­me­di­ately by a hard stab on the brakes. While the third-gen­er­a­tion Cayenne has shed 65kg, there’s still a lot of mass at play, which means you have to bal­ance mo­men­tum and tra­jec­tory del­i­cately. Dial in PSM Sport, how­ever, and the ver­i­ta­ble barge will per­form the oc­ca­sional four-wheel drift while clip­ping apexes and al­low­ing the odd dash of weight trans­fer to bring the rear end back in line.

The con­nect­ing stage to the Sudelfeld pass con­tains a mixed bag of chal­lenges; from no holds­barred au­to­bahn runs to bumper-to­bumper traf­fic. Given half a chance, the V-max is easy to achieve given power at play here. Re­spon­si­ble for all the grunt and oo­dles of torque is a 4.0-litre bent eight, boosted by two counter-ro­tat­ing tur­bocharges. While the all-new eight-speed au­to­matic will hap­pily slip into coast un­der trail­ing throt­tle, it does not yet in­cor­po­rate the com­po­nen­try needed for a plug-in hy­brid up­date.

At­tack­ing the first as­cent on the Sudelfeld pass in the Cayenne starts with to­tal calm. Rid­ing the torque curve in fourth, fifth and sixth gear, tak­ing full ad­van­tage of the fact that the torque wave crests at a foamy 770Nm and con­tin­ues all the way from 1960 to 4500rpm. It’s this lowto-mid speed urge, in com­bi­na­tion with its abil­ity to spin to 6000rpm and be­yond, which makes the new V8 such a re­mark­ably bal­anced high-per­for­mance en­gine. Briefly mas­sag­ing the throt­tle is all it takes to flat­ten any gra­di­ent, to re­lease a cor­nu­copia of twist ac­tion, and to build up speed al­most as fast as you can turn up the vol­ume. At part load, the 4.0-litre purrs while road and wind noise play sec­ond fid­dle to the re­mark­able Burmester sound sys­tem.

On the three-lane Mu­nich-Salzburg au­to­bahn, the Cayenne Turbo feels sub­stan­tial. It goes against the green con­science to drive this SUV like a 911. But of course, that’s the at­trac­tion of buy­ing an off-roader such as this from Porsche. And if fast isn’t fast enough, hit the black but­ton in the mid­dle of the drive-mode se­lec­tor and rel­ish a 20-sec­ond over­boost – again and again. Be­tween 200 and 240km/h you need to be on your game. How­ever, the 404kW be­he­moth takes cor­ners al­most as flat as a Panam­era, brakes al­most as ur­gently as a Ma­can and han­dles like it wants to be a Cay­man (be­fore re­mem­ber­ing it’s a 2.2-tonne SUV).

The stan­dard triple-cham­ber air sus­pen­sion pro­vides a wider spec­trum of damper tun­ing and ride height. Dy­namic Chas­sis Con­trol is Porsche-speak for ac­tive sway bars, which can even de­cou­ple or twist when the off-road go­ing gets tough. An­other nov­elty is the self-ad­just­ing roof spoiler that keeps in­creas­ing the down­force up to the point where it be­comes an air­brake. To­gether, th­ese el­e­ments war­rant a high-speed com­po­sure which is sec­ond to none – and not just for an SUV.

Ad­di­tion­ally, given each wheel is in­di­vid­u­ally mas­ter­minded, un­set­tling chain re­ac­tions are a thing of the past. The body con­trol is ex­em­plary, and the road­hold­ing is un­touch­able, even when the g-force marker slides past the 1.0g point. What re­ally helps on tight, twisty roads is the mind­bog­gling grip thanks to the stick­ier rub­ber. Aid­ing the cause is ex­tra trac­tion from the four-wheel drive sys­tem and a new­found chuck­a­bil­ity thanks to the rear-wheel steer­ing (which also cuts the turn­ing cir­cle by a foot for ease of use in car parks).

Aided by torque vec­tor­ing and the lim­ited-slip rear diff, our brawny beast ac­cel­er­ates out of tight up­hill cor­ners with the un­real verve of a mono­rail on steroids. With all the safety nets rolled up, the 315/35 R21 Pirellis paint short black stripes on the all-too-short straights.

On tricky ter­rain, you want the sus­pen­sion in Sport for suf­fi­cient com­pli­ance and the trans­mis­sion in Sport Plus for ag­gres­sively late up­shifts. De­spite its bulk, the

Porsche man­ages not to un­der­steer ex­ces­sively through tight bends, and it does a fine job con­trol­ling its con­sid­er­ate amount of in­er­tia through the faster sweep­ers. The brakes are quite grabby and not that in­tu­itive to mod­u­late, but when you hit the

Dial in PSM Sport and the ver­i­ta­ble barge will per­form the oc­ca­sional four-wheel drift

You have to keep re­mind­ing your­self that you’re think­ing about a race­track while hurtling along in an SUV

pedal hard, they do so with epic force. Stan­dard on the Turbo, and op­tional on lesser mod­els, are the large steel discs with tung­sten car­bide coat­ing for re­duced pad dust and longer wear. The clean ro­tors and white calipers were tes­ta­ment to that at the end of a two-day trip.

Press­ing the PSM but­ton for at least eight sec­onds re­veals a yel­low warn­ing sym­bol on the dash. Or, in other words, this puts the Cayenne Turbo into stealth-fighter mode. Here, the Porsche per­forms all the way to the silly limit of ad­he­sion, which must be some­where above the clouds. Press on and the rear end will duly step out, but you re­ally want to be on a race­track to make this at­ti­tude stick. And that day sadly isn’t to­day. Although you have to keep re­mind­ing your­self that you’re even think­ing about a race­track while hurtling along in an SUV.

Be­ing a press car, our Cayenne Turbo’s packed with op­tional ex­tras. The test car fea­tures 21-inch wheels and tyres, dy­namic chas­sis con­trol, rear-wheel steer­ing, torque vec­tor­ing, Power Steer­ing Plus and the Sport Chrono Pack – the lat­ter af­ford­ing the hero 0-100km/h time, oth­er­wise the Cayenne hits 100 in 4.1sec.

With so much go­ing on with the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, there’s pre­cious lit­tle time to take in the new, sta­teof-the-art in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem first in­tro­duced in the Panam­era. Although, some­what gladly, the test car spares us one com­plex­ity by not be­ing fit­ted with In­noDrive (a kind of cruise con­trol de­vel­oped specif­i­cally for back-road driv­ing).

The tech on of­fer can some­times feel like a door with seven locks. What may be a dream come true for some be­comes a pain for those less adept with gad­gets – those who miss a sim­ple knob to turn up Miles Davis and turn down Ri­hanna.

Ev­ery­thing with the new dash is touchy-slidey and there’s no head-up dis­play. The multi-func­tion steer­ing wheel un­der de­liv­ers and the menus of­ten re­quire myr­iad sub­menus to get to where you want to go. It takes a long, straight road – or, bet­ter still, a car park – to come to grips with what all the bits and bytes can do for you. It just seems like er­gonomic overkill and the must-use touch­screen for vi­tal con­trols can be­come tire­some.

The 2018 Cayenne is per­ma­nently on­line, it hooks up with stream­ing ser­vices and its wifi hotspot en­sures the 24/7 re­cep­tion of your favourite ra­dio sta­tions no mat­ter where you are. It also utilises real-time traf­fic up­dates to help you out of con­ges­tion or to avoid an ac­ci­dent and can even warn you of black ice on the road.

The Voice Pi­lot, who lives at the end of a col­umn stalk, al­legedly un­der­stands more than 100 dif­fer­ent com­mands from “I’m cold” to “take me to the near­est Ital­ian res­tau­rant”. Handy.

How­ever, as you can imag­ine, over­all ef­fi­ciency and rel­a­tive so­cial ac­cep­tance are not among the Cayenne Turbo’s fortes. You don’t have to be an en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist to frown at this mega SUV which sends out all the wrong vibes – to some. Also, the pend­ing turbo-diesel V6 may still be tainted by af­ter­shocks of diesel­gate, so there’s only one sus­tain­able con­fig­u­ra­tion for rich and re­spon­si­ble prospec­tive buy­ers. And that would be the up­com­ing twin-en­gined, 500kW V8 plug-in hy­brid, no less.

With a sticker price around $238,000 (price yet to be con­firmed), it seems a bit steep. But re­mem­ber, there’s still the manic Turbo S to come. And af­ter 580km and some 17 hours, there’s one thing that isn’t in doubt. To­gether with the 324kW Ma­can, this is a more com­plete, go-any­where sports car than any of its ri­vals. It ex­tends the laws of physics to the max­i­mum, it jug­gles its weight and mass like a well-honed cir­cus act and cov­ers the com­plete scope of re­quire­ments from thun­der­ing down the au­to­bahn to climb­ing up a rut­ted track to the getaway house. It re­ally is a strange world we live in.

De­spite the wide rear rub­ber and grip from the all-paw driv­e­train, the Turbo can still wag its tail when pro­voked

MODE PLAY

It’s easy to for­get that some will take their SUV off-road. New modes in­clude Gravel, Mud, Sand and Rock to help you tackle the el­e­ments

FIN­GER PRINT

But­tons, it seems, are yes­ter­day’s news and touch­screens are the go. Hence the Cayenne gains a touch-sen­si­tive panel for all the vi­tal con­trols

TECH SAVVY

First in­tro­duced in the Panam­era, the Cayenne ben­e­fits from a new in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. It in­cludes on­line ca­pa­bil­ity, wifi hotspots and more

The Cayenne's twin­turbo setup is tucked away in­side the 'vee' for im­proved en­gine re­sponse – and it sure does work, hence the air­brake

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