2015 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S review

PORSCHE has invited us to try out the most powerful SUV in its line-up in a place where its performance potential will go largely untapped.

WHAT IS IT?
It’s an anomaly, that’s what it is. A collection of numbers and brute force that shouldn’t exist, yet somehow does. Here’s proof: the Cayenne Turbo S weighs 2235kg, yet thanks to a colossal 419kW/800Nm 4.8-litre twin-turbo V8, hits 0-100km/h in 4.1sec, does a 12.4 quarter mile and laps the Nurburgring in 7m59s – that’s a number that’d make a 996 GT3 blush. Put simply, now that the 918 hypercar is officially sold out, the Cayenne Turbo S is the biggest, baddest and brawniest Porsche you can buy.

WHY WE'RE TESTING IT
Like it or lump it, today Porsche is an SUV company. Last year Porsche Australia sold three times as many Cayennes at it did 911s, and twice as many of the smaller Macan as the Boxster and Cayman combined. Porsche SUVs, then, are kind of important and this Cayenne Turbo S is the pinnacle of the range. Plus, Porsche flew us all the way to a frozen lake in Sweden so we could test its, erm…balance.

MAIN RIVALS
Mercedes-Benz ML63, BMW X5 M50d, Range Rover Sport SVR

THE WHEELS VERDICT
If extremely powerful, hardcore SUVs are your thing, the Cayenne Turbo S is the ultimate example.

Plus: Physics bending performance; interior quality; immense brakes
Minus: Minor visual change; expensive

THE WHEELS REVIEW
OF ALL the places to launch the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, this is a noodle scratcher. A bloody cold and slippery noodle scratcher. I’m standing in the snow at a former air force base in Skelleftea, Sweden, a silver Cayenne Turbo S idling in front of me and all I can think, as the mercury slips to -15 and another evil finger of wind pricks my neck, is “why aren’t we at a racetrack in Spain? Or a section of Germany’s autobahn?”

Surely both of these places would better showcase the Turbo S’s prodigious performance.

Porsche says we’re in Sweden to assess the Cayenne’s balance on low-grip surfaces; the fact sliding a 2.0-tonne SUV on ice is incredible fun, is just a bonus.

What’s new on the facelifted Cayenne Turbo S? The eagle-eyed among you will notice the new LED fog lights, slimmer rear tail lights and the 918-style steering wheel. The biggest changes, though, have been made to the oily bits.

Power from the 4.8-litre twin-turbo V8 is up 15kW/50Nm, the turbochargers have moved into the exhaust manifold to improve efficiency and response times, and see those yellow brake callipers? They’re enormous carbon ceramics, with 10-piston stoppers at the front and four-piston ones at the rear.

Turn the key and the Cayenne oozes menace. The V8 has a rumble you feel more than hear and the performance, even on ice, is supercar-esque

We don’t doubt that in the right conditions this could be a sub-4.0sec car, particularly given Porsche’s performance figures always err on the side of caution.

A frozen airfield isn’t ideal for assessing the Turbo S’s ride and handling, although Cayennes are renowned for hiding their enormous size and weight exceptionally well. Given this new car comes standard with all of Porsche’s chassis control systems (Sport Chrono, torque vectoring, active all-wheel drive) we expect it’ll be more of the same.

What we do know is that despite being all-paw, the Turbo S will power oversteer on ice the moment you so much as breath on the accelerator and will even hold graceful drifts, which makes for oodles of slide-happy fun.

What was lacking on the velvety-smooth ice was any sense of feel through the steering. And as rumbly as that big V8 is at idle, rev it hard and it can’t reach the aural heights of Range Rover’s 5.0-litre supercharged V8 or Merc’s ML63, soon to become the GLC63.

Then there’s the question of price, which at $284,700, is hardly good value. Especially given the new V6-powered Cayenne GTS, launched simultaneously in Sweden, is a whopping $130,100 cheaper, 125kg lighter, has better throttle response and is considerably more agile.

Yet if sheer numbers and brutal performance are you’re thing, there’s no doubt the Turbo S is the definitive super-SUV. 

SPECS
Model: Porsche Cayenne Turbo S
Engine: 4806cc V8 (90°), dohc, 32v, twin turbo
Max power: 419kW @ 6000rpm
Max torque: 800Nm @ 2500-4000rpm
Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch
Kerb weight: 2235kg
0-100km/h: 4.1sec (claimed)
Economy: 11.5L/100km
Price: $284,700
On sale: July 2015

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