First DrivePorsche's big petrol SUV has dropped its V8 in favour of a more efficient yet more powerful V6. Do fewer cylinders make for a better Cayenne?
First DriveA Cayenne hybrid of heightened economy potential, and quite attractively priced given its complexity and capabilities
Nobody ever claimed the 165mph Cayenne Turbo – 0-62mph in 5.6sec – was sluggish. Porsche’s so-called ‘sports all-terrain’ 4x4 sets the performance standard in the class, effortlessly dispatching the new Range Rover Sport and BMW X5 4.8 in acceleration terms. But Weissach wants to establish a new performance benchmark before the inevitable arrival of the AMG version of Mercedes’ new ML.
To those who insist on the fastest, most expensive Cayenne, the cost of this 500ps (493bhp) version is a doddle. For the rest of us, the extra £10,223 works out at just over £3400 per tenth of a second saved on the 0-62 sprint.
Improved intercooler airflow and revised engine management account for the power increase, and Porsche has upgraded the brakes, which sit behind 19-inch alloys, to cope with the enormous performance. So discreet are the modifications that there are no exterior giveaways on this model, which is available through Porsche’s Exclusive Tequipment programme.
The engine tweaks do nothing to disturb the twin-turbo V8’s idle and light-throttle refinement. Push through this thin façade, though, and modified accelerator mapping adds brutally responsive aggression to the immediacy of the Cayenne’s already-blistering performance. The thumping acceleration doesn’t begin to let up north of 150mph, gulping vast quantities of fuel in the process. If your dream is a ferocious take-no-prisoners 4x4, look no further. This car is fundamentally about delivering a performance advantage.
Otherwise, the Cayenne is a mixed bag. Roomy and comfortable, it rides as well as an X5, though not as well as a Range Rover, while the steering is strangely heavy (like the brakes), proving that not even Porsche’s engineers can disguise the vehicle’s bulk. This may be the sports car of 4x4s, but it’s still a 2355kg off-roader. Body control is excellent and the brakes extremely powerful, but the huge rubber introduces a hint of tramlining on anything other than super-smooth roads, forcing constant driver corrections.
During our recent sporting 4x4 comparison, Steve Sutcliffe accused the Cayenne Turbo of having a cold, almost emotionless character. That’s as true of the relentless 500ps version, unless you fall under the spell of the enthralling performance.