8

It’s quite shocking to consider that, despite hikes of 20bhp and 37lb ft, which bring headline figures from the 4.8-litre V8 twin-turbo motor to 512bhp and 553lb ft, the Cayenne Turbo isn't the go-fastest version of Porsche's big SUV.

That questionable honour goes to the forthcoming Turbo S. Similarly, the almost-here GTS's badge suggests that it will set the handling benchmark for Stuttgart's venerable 4x4. So where does that leave the Turbo?

For all that talk of the even more intense Cayenne models, and marginally improved economy for this car's facelift, let’s not confuse the Turbo with a moderate car. Considering one as your average family SUV - if you’re not specifically after raging performance - would be like browsing a howitzer catalogue for the occasional clay-pigeon shoot.

Ultimately, though, if you like cars, if you want a really fast one and you're contemplating a Turbo, then it won't disappoint.

The V8 is the star of the show here. Give it everything and you’re treated to a distant cacophony of turbo-whoosh and V8 warble, as you struggle to come to terms with just how rapidly the whopping 2.2-tonne mass is gaining pace.

It’s in part due to the contrast of the serene way you can tool about at normal speeds, helped by the smooth and intuitive shifts of the eight-speed automatic gearbox, but you’d never tire of the explosive way it hurtles up the road when you want it to.

Even so, while the engine can be effortlessly refined or ferocious at will, the ride is so seamlessly able to offer both comfort and thrills. Adaptive air suspension is standard and in its most easy-going setting there’s plenty of pitch and roll, yet (on the optional 21-inch wheels of our test car) there’s still a fairly harsh initial bump absorption that can make you feel a bit jostled over poor surfaces.

It settles over smooth-edged ruts and undulations, but it never feels as serene as you might hope, and of course the ride only gets more unforgiving the more dialled-up your choice of damper mode.

Still, most prospective Turbo buyers will consider the remarkable handling justification enough. There’s still some heavy body movement through fast direction changes, but between precise, well-weighted, consistent steering and feelsome brake and throttle responses, it’s easy to balance the Cayenne’s weight on the front tyres to bring a satisfying bite on turn-in.

Time this just right with a blip of the throttle and if you’re brave enough you can incite a manageable burst of oversteer, before the on-demand four-wheel drive diverts power and pulls things back into a nose-first state.

It’s never a subtle or delicate thing to drive, but you can enjoy scorching B-road pace with ease, and if you can keep the Cayenne's weight balanced properly, you can enjoy handling as close to that of a sports car as you’ll find in an SUV.

On top of all that you still get a spacious cabin that offers all manner of sumptuous luxuries, including sat-nav, a Bose sound system, heated and electrically adjustable adaptive sports seats, leather upholstery and a new 918 Spyder-inspired multifunction steering wheel. It’s a practical, lavish-feeling cabin that is sure to be a real selling point.

Honestly, it’s hard not to think that the V8 Cayenne Diesel S, or even something like an Audi RS6 – both of which are rampantly fast, just as practical, sound brilliant and are great fun - wouldn’t do a very similar job for much less money. But if you’re absolutely set on a top-whack, petrol sports SUV, the Cayenne Turbo is truly awesome.

It will do everything you could possibly want of it, and then probably a bit more. There is a caveat, though.

While the Turbo will remain brilliant regardless of how good the forthcoming Range Rover Sport SVR and slower but potentially even more athletic Cayenne GTS are, you’d be foolish not to wait to try these two rivals in the next few months before committing any cash.

Porsche Cayenne Turbo

Price £92,628; Engine V8, 4806cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol; Power 512bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 553lb ft at 2250-4000rpm; Gearbox eight-speed automatic; Kerb weight 2185kg; Top speed 173mph; 0-62mph 4.5sec; Economy 24.6mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 261g/km

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