What is it?
Usually, it doesn’t take long to figure out where a manufacturer is going with a car replacement. Sometimes, the brief is clearly ‘the same, just better’; but often you’ll come across cars that try to be more sporting than those they replace, more spacious, more luxurious, more… well, you can insert your own adjective. What’s rarer is how the car actually sheds light on how the entire brand wishes to be perceived.
The new Porsche Cayenne is one of those cars, and none more so than this essentially hundred-grand range-topping Turbo. This is the third new Cayenne since the model first scandalised the Porsche purists in 2002 before swiftly outselling all other Porsche models put together and turning the brand into the most profitable car company on Earth. But this Cayenne won’t be Porsche’s best-seller, for it is the first to be born in the post-Macan era. The Macan now does so many of those things that in the past only Cayennes could do; the time has come for the new range of Cayennes to find new roles. And the flagship of the fleet is this new Turbo.
But before we get into what it does, let’s pause a moment and consider exactly what it is first. After the Audi Q7 and Bentley Bentayga, it is the third full-sized SUV from the Volkswagen Group to sit on its MLB hybrid steel and aluminium platform. But it is the first to use it in short-wheelbase form, with 100mm less air between the front and rear wheels than its stablemates. Compared with an old Cayenne, it is a little longer, wider and lower. Model for model, a new Cayenne will be on average 60kg lighter than the one it replaces but, at 2195kg, there’s still a whole lot of car to control here.
Compared with the old Cayenne Turbo S (the only Turbo still technically on sale), the new car has a new 4-litre twin turbo V8 in place of a comparatively ancient 4.8-litre unit. The new engine has 542bhp and 567lb ft of torque, which is pretty impressive when you consider that even in Turbo S form the old engine only had 20bhp and 22lb ft more. The new S will likely be up around the 600bhp mark. What’s more, the new Cayenne Turbo matches the old Turbo S to 62mph to the tenth and beats its top speed by a single mile per hour - not bad when you consider the new car is over £21,500 cheaper.
This engine is also found in the new Panamera Turbo, but crucially in the Cayenne it’s connected to a new eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox and not a double clutch transmission, so preserving the 3500kg towing capacity of the old Cayenne with its Aisin-Warner gearbox. Torque is sent to all four corners with an effectively infinitely variable front to rear split, although it does so through Porsche’s own system of clutches, not the Torsen differential favoured by Audi and Bentley. Porsche says its approach is lighter and quicker.
Air suspension is standard on the Turbo and provides three chambers per corner and is another area in which Porsche has been allowed to paddle its own canoe. The result: faster reacting springs with a wider range of operation, at least according to Porsche. The car does, however, also adopt the 48V active anti-bar system that allows said bars to all but eliminate roll in fast corners yet become effectively uncoupled in extreme off-road situations for maximum rock-hopping traction.