The Porsche Cayenne Turbo, doyen of the noveau riche and Premiership footballers. What's new about this?
This is no 'ordinary' Cayenne Turbo, not that there's much ordinary about a 444bhp SUV that hits 62mph from stop as fast as a Lamborghini Countach. But check out that Turbo S designation. Porsche has created an even faster, even more brutal, even pricier, ultimate Cayenne. When it comes to Porsche, anything is possible. If it likes the idea of an SUV that's almost as fast as a supercar, then it builds one.
How did they spice up a Turbo S, then?
Take a Cayenne Turbo. Revise the intercoolers and heat exchangers, and boost the pressure in the twin turbos to whip up 514bhp. Tweak the suspension to cope and beef up the brakes. There's a unique tailpipe design and the 20in wheels are new. There are six different air suspension settings to choose from, and the body automatically lowers its ride height at 78mph and then again at 131mph.
I expect it feels like riding a rocket. So how does it go?
Where the Cayenne Turbo does 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds, the Turbo S does it in 5.2. From 50 to 75mph in fifth is now the work of 5.4sec, not 6.1. And it feels different. Even more so than the 444bhp Cayenne Turbo, the 514bhp Turbo S creates a virtual reality experience. Of course it's real, all 4.8 metres and 2355kg of it, but it feels virtual because it's very hard to believe that this brick can accelerate so quickly.
What does the S stand for - sociopath?
Drive the Turbo S like an SUV, and the rest of the world will look at you disapprovingly and the eco-weenies will flypost propaganda on your car. Drive it like a sports car, however, and you'll get the finger wherever you go. People are angry, surprised and scared: they hate it when the laws of physics play tricks. Switching from a sensible automobile to the Cayenne Turbo S has an effect similar to overdosing on bastard pills. Overtaking an ambitiously driven 330i on a long, steep slope? Piece of cake. Flashing an S8 the high-beam message on an empty autobahn? Easy. Challenging an SL500 at the traffic lights? No sweat.
So much for straight line willy waving. What happens when you hit a corner?
Witchcraft, that's what. The steering is razor sharp and laser precise. The chassis is a magnet on wheels. Zuffenhausen's pure sport car genes are definitely present in the Cayenne Turbo S. The inputs are vaguely reminiscent of a Boxster or a 911, but on a bigger scale. Everything else is just as responsive: the drivetrain obeys your commands before you've even issued them. The brakes are fast-rewind powerful and 3D progressive.
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The Turbo S doesn't have a revised face, despite Porsche being beaten with the ugly stick since the car's unveiling. But prototypes with revised headlamps have been trundling around for the best part of two years. The refreshed look is scheduled to emerge at the Detroit show in January 2007, when the range will also get the odd engine and chassis tweaks.
You cannot approach the Cayenne Turbo S without reservations. The concept, a big, heavy SUV, is disappointingly conservative, especially from a company that knows the virtues of lightweight. For sure, it's politically incorrect. And environmentally hostile. But what a hoot. Simply a-ma-zing. As far as outrageous motor cars go, the Porsche on steroids is topped by absolutely nothing this side of a Bugatti Veyron.