As impressive as the Cayenne Turbo’s straight-line performance figures are, the manner in which it manages to mask its immense size and weight through the corners is equally as admirable.
There are three primary contributing factors to this ability: the steadfast lateral body control provided by the chassis and trick air suspension, an ESP system that’s seemingly far happier to work with you than against you, and the ability of its four-wheel-drive system and Pirelli P Zero tyres to enable the Cayenne to cling to the surface of the road long after your brain tells you inertia should have seen you carry on in a straight line.
That’s not to say understeer has been entirely removed – you’ll still find it if you purposefully look for it – but, for the most part, the Cayenne’s is an impressively keen, precise and incisive front end.
One tester called the Cayenne Turbo the “most alarming” car he’d ever piloted around Millbrook’s Hill Route, namely because of the 2.2-tonne bruiser’s ability to just grip and go, regardless of camber or gradient. The immense torque developed by the 4.0-litre V8 seemed to have the uncanny effect of flattening the technical stretch of the track, too. Irrespective of how steep a hill was or which gear you were in, the Cayenne would attack the ascent to its peak with intense ferocity.
Sharp turns, coupled with the sudden dips and troughs peppered along the length of the Hill Route, also served to highlight the sophistication of the Porsche’s stability control, which coped well with the sudden compressions and transfer of weight with alacrity.
However, for all of this third-generation model’s dynamic ability, there is a lingering sense that it isn’t quite as sharp or engaging as its predecessor; that the additional athleticism that car had over and above its immediate rivals has perhaps been pared back in this latest Cayenne.
Its steering, for instance, while still pleasingly weighted and direct, isn’t quite as talkative or involving as it once was. And where that earlier car seemed quite happy to send a lump of torque to the rear axle to unsettle its back end on the way out of a bend, this Cayenne comes across as a more neutral machine.
The result is a Cayenne that’s unquestionably still good to drive, but also one that seems to have sacrificed some of its inherent dynamism in favour of additional refinement and comfort. It’s a more grown-up and luxurious product, then, but also one that is – dare we say it?– ever so slightly less of a Porsche.