Twee as it sounds, there’s plenty of recognisable Porsche DNA in the way this hybrid colossus steers, and in broader terms you’ll not find any comparably large SUV that changes direction more accurately and with better body control than the Cayenne. These cars simply impart confidence better than the rest, although the more laid-back Range Rover Sport comes close.
Again, the default Hybrid mode is your best bet for British roads and the Turbo S E-Hybrid moves with a soft-touch precision well suited to the job at hand. Moving up through Sport and Sport Plus modes is therefore mostly unnecessary, although doing so will progressively stiffen the air suspension, sharpen the throttle response, alter the torque split and trigger the brake-based torque vectoring to better sling the car through corners – and then replicate the effect of an aggressive limited-slip differential on the way out.
Push on in Sport Plus and it’s hard to imagine how Porsche could have made this car more agile, short of giving it an entirely carbonfibre body or somehow else removing a good portion of the weight. The problem is that, despite being superbly managed, the sensation of extreme mass remains, and even the carbonceramic 10-piston brakes and very neatly controlled body movements can’t disguise it.
Logical thinking tells you the contact patches are so vast and the driveline so fast-reacting that you’re unlikely to come unstuck with the correct steering and throttle inputs. And yet the synapses in your backside and brain are constantly sensing the magnitude of the physics that would be unleashed if something did go wrong. It means progress can become mentally tiresome, because the Cayenne wants to be driven quickly and reminds you of that often. A Range Rover doesn’t do this and is therefore better company more of the time.
It all makes the Turbo S E-Hybrid a bit of a one-trick pony: not so satisfying to drive as ‘lesser’, lighter and – importantly – more pliant Cayenne models but needing, deep down, to be driven damned fast to show you what it can do. Rebel without a cause? Just a bit, and as if to prove it, the car’s a complete natural when it comes to power oversteer.