What is it?
The Porsche Cayenne Turbo S. Its twin-turbo 4.8-litre V8 delivers 542bhp and 553lb ft of torque, near identical figures to the 7.3-litre V12 Pagani Zonda C12. There’s the small issue of this Porsche weighing 1000kg more than the Zonda but still, it’s remarkable how far the Cayenne has come since it first arrived back in 2002.
The extra power (up 49bhp and 37lb ft) over a regular Cayenne Turbo demands an £19,734 premium, though, the Turbo S listing at £107,460 in the UK.
To set it apart from the regular Turbo, the S gets 21in ‘911 Turbo II’ alloy wheels as standard, together with a gloss black front grille, headlight surrounds and mirrors but, really, it’s the extra performance you’re paying for here. Porsche claims it completes 0-62 in 4.5sec, 0.2sec quicker than the standard Turbo, while its top speed is 2mph higher at 175mph. Mighty impressive for something with a 2215kg kerb weight.
What’s it like to drive?
Where the Cayenne Turbo S scores highly is with its chassis dynamics. With PASM (adaptive dampers), PDCC (anti-roll control) and PTV+ (torque vectoring) all fitted as standard, its power delivery and vice-like suspension control are nothing short of exemplary.
The test route contains some vicious yumps and tricky corners that challenge even the best set-up cars but this Cayenne remains unflustered throughout, never even getting close to bottoming out in the dips (even with the dampers set to normal) while suppressing roll through the corners in an almost magical way.
It isn’t all good news, though, because there’s always a nagging feeling of bulk, especially from the steering, which feels stodgy at slow speeds, with little in the way of self-centering. Then the eight-speed automatic gearbox never seems in much of a rush either, while it doesn’t blip the throttle on downshifts. That all seems at odds with the otherwise brilliant chassis dynamics, dampening the Turbo S’s appeal somewhat.
How does it compare?
The multitudinous Cayenne models cover many bases, but ‘sporty SUV’ is also served up by the 414bhp, £67,147 GTS, with a naturally aspirated 4.8-litre V8 at its heart. Other super off-roaders include the 547bhp, £83,800 BMW X5M, the 518bhp, £83,655 Mercedes ML63 AMG and the all-new 503bhp, £81,550 Range Rover Sport Supercharged.
Anything else I need to know?
I was constantly amazed by the Turbo S’s sheer cross country pace (and woeful mpg) but ended up longing for the sportier character of the 130kg lighter Cayenne GTS, which after this encounter, still remains my favourite Cayenne of them all.