For 20132013, Porsche has upped the power on the Cayenne Turbo S to the tune of 550bhp and it has 750Nm of torque. It’s time to take it se­ri­ously, says wheels’ Imran Ma­lik

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The new 550bhp Turbo S sits at the top of the Porsche Cayenne line-up.

There was a time, not too long ago, when I’d laugh at the mere sight of a Cayenne. And I wasn’t the only one. It seemed the en­tire mo­tor­ing world found it to be a bit of a joke, apart from Porsche, when it launched the new SUV in 2002. There were cries of “sac­ri­lege”. It ap­peared the Stuttgart car­maker had gone against all that it be­lieved in with the be­he­moth.

Hav­ing been fed a steady diet of slick, two-door coupés since the For­ties, the lardy Cayenne raised a few eye­brows and mur­murs of dis­con­tent were aplenty. But the ini­tial shock sub­sided when peo­ple re­alised it was ac­tu­ally pretty good.

It drove great both on and off road, han­dled very well and could ac­com­mo­date five adults too. The Turbo and S trims were soon in­tro­duced but things got se­ri­ous in 2006 when the flag­ship 520bhp Turbo S was added to the grow­ing line-up. With its out­put on the rise ever since, I bagged the 2013 model with 550bhp.

Some­thing told me I wouldn’t be laugh­ing at this any more.

The fully gal­vanised light­weight all-steel body doesn’t look very dif­fer­ent to the Turbo from afar, but a closer in­spec­tion re­veals some changes. The Sport Chrono Pack­age adds huge 21in 911 Turbo II wheels, with the in­ner area painted black. They are a full 2in big­ger than those on the Turbo.

It also fea­tures gloss-black­painted air in­let grilles, re­vised head­light hous­ings and bi-xenon eyes, which in­clude the Porsche Dy­namic Light­ing Sys­tem. The dark­ened rear LED lights look good, plus I like the roof-mounted spoiler and two tailpipes in pol­ished alu­minium, but on the whole the dif­fer­ences are mi­nor.

One way to con­firm it is the Turbo S is by check­ing the badge on the tail­gate. An even bet­ter way is by hop­ping in and bury­ing the throt­tle into the plush car­pet. Yep, there is no doubt this is the wildest ver­sion of the bunch.

That blown 4.8-litre V8 sim­ply blows you away. The alu­minium engine block and cylin­der heads, with four over­head camshafts and four valves-per-cylin­der, mean busi­ness.

The boost pres­sure of the wa­ter­cooled tur­bos has been upped and its ECU tweaked to pro­duce more oomph and you can cer­tainly feel ev­ery one of those 50 ex­tra torques over the Turbo when you’re pinned to the lux­u­ri­ous seat.

It has a to­tal of 750Nm be­tween 2,250rpm and 4,500rpm – an in­cred­i­ble fig­ure. The num­bers con­tinue to be­come even more eye-pop­pingly good; 0-100kph takes just 4.5 sec­onds. Top speed is an ob­scene 283kph. The re­vi­talised engine even looks bet­ter too; it has a titanium-coloured in­take man­i­fold and a pair of car­bon-fi­bre in­lays with “Turbo S” lo­gos. It looks as good as it per­forms.

With all the ag­gres­sion be­ing chan­nelled to all four cor­ners via the Porsche Trac­tion Man­age­ment, and the smooth and re­fined Tip­tronic S eight-speed swap­ping the cogs, I wouldn’t be ex­ag­ger­at­ing to say that the Cayenne Turbo S feels al­most as ag­ile as the 911 Car­rera 4S.

You won’t be­lieve just how good this thing is. It begs to be thrashed and oblit­er­ates the cor­ners; with all four wheels dig­ging in to pro­vide su­perb trac­tion and the

de­ter­mined mo­tor revving at a peak of 6,000rpm; you can carve up the road in this big SUV all day.

The ac­tive air sus­pen­sion (it has three set­tings: Com­fort, Nor­mal and Sport) and PASM ac­tive damp­ing con­trol is beau­ti­fully com­ple­mented by the Porsche Dy­namic Chas­sis Con­trol (PDCC), which more or less elim­i­nates body roll.

Add to that Torque Vec­tor­ing Plus with vari­able torque dis­tri­bu­tion to the rear wheels and an elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled rear dif­fer­en­tial lock, and it all amounts to a sure-foot­ed­ness and tremen­dous agility that other SUVs aspire to match.

Stop­ping power comes from brake discs mea­sur­ing 390mm di­am­e­ter and 38mm thick­ness at the front, 358mm di­am­e­ter and 28mm thick­ness at the back, all in­ter­nally ven­ti­lated. They do the trick and bring this 2,215kg beast to a safe halt with­out a hitch.

Per­haps most sur­pris­ing is that even though it is way more pow­er­ful than the Turbo, it still drinks the same amount of fuel – a claimed aver­age of 11.5 litres-per-100km. But it isn’t just about su­perb per­for­mance; the Turbo S has sheer qual­ity in abun­dance, too. The sump­tu­ous black and red leather in­te­rior with dec­o­ra­tive stitch­ing and car­bon-fi­bre trim is class per­son­i­fied. El­e­gant needle­work adorns the dash­board, door panels and even the floor mats, while the head rests wear em­bossed Porsche lo­gos.

Fur­ther dis­tin­guished “Turbo S” let­ter­ing makes its way on the front door sill plates and the in­stru­ment clus­ter – there is no deny­ing this Cayenne was lov­ingly built.

The ana­logue and dig­i­tal timer tells me use­ful in­for­ma­tion such as my, er, lap time, but to make life a lit­tle eas­ier, the Park As­sist re­vers­ing cam­era is a nice touch.

The PCM (Porsche Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Man­age­ment) in­cludes a 7.0in high-res­o­lu­tion screen, which con­trols the sat-nav, tele­phone and other good­ies, while the 14-speaker Bose sur­round sound sys­tem makes a heck of a noise.

There are many SUVs out there that can match lux­ury with per­for­mance, but the fact that the Cayenne is built by a real sport­scar maker and as a re­sult drives like one, makes it the daddy.

It’s so good, it de­fies physics. You’ll love be­ing be­hind the wheel of the Turbo S – it’s one of the few cars out there that make you smile. And that’s no laugh­ing mat­ter.

The Cayenne Turbo S has sheer qual­ity in abun­dance

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