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Driven: Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Image by Porsche UK.

Driven: Porsche Cayenne Turbo
Still blisteringly fast and one of the best-handling SUVs around… but not quite THE best.


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Porsche Cayenne Turbo

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: majestic biturbo V8 engine, immense performance, excellent cabin, handsome looks

Not so good: sometimes feels its weight, not in the least bit cheap to buy or run

Key Facts

Model tested: Porsche Cayenne Turbo
Price: Cayenne range from £57,195; Turbo from £101,155
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol
Transmission: eight-speed Tiptronic automatic, PTM all-wheel drive
Body style: five-door performance SUV
CO2 emissions: 272g/km (VED Band Over 255: £2,135 in year one, then £465 per annum years two-six of ownership, then £145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 23.7mpg
Top speed: 177mph
0-62mph: 3.9 seconds
Power: 550hp at 5,750-6,000rpm
Torque: 770Nm at 1,960-4,500rpm
Boot space: 745-1,680 litres

Our view:

Ever since the Porsche Cayenne appeared, in its startlingly ugly first-generation format, it has been the SUV benchmark for dynamism. Say what you like about its looks (which we happen to think have been steadily improving over the years), but the Cayenne always had plenty of pep in the handling department, and usually a nice-and-spicy array of drivetrains with which to complement such exceptional sure-footedness.

The current third-generation Cayenne is more of the same, only it's now packaged in a wrapper that's most easy on the eye - dare we say it, even out-and-out handsome - and blessed with an interior that's top-notch. It feels thoroughly premium inside, it's plenty spacious enough onboard for five adults and a load of luggage out the back, and it has a good array of toys plus the 10.9-inch infotainment touchscreen and heavily digitised instrument cluster (analogue rev counter still centre-mounted, though, in true Porsche style). So it's an interior that's truly 21st-century in its outlook, without being confusing to use.

The Turbo also seems to be the pick of the Cayenne range, as it gives the greatest blend of power and performance, without an excess of both weight and those other type of pounds too. We're talking here about the supposed flagship of the range, the monster Turbo S E-Hybrid, which takes the Turbo's 550hp/770Nm 4.0-litre biturbo V8 and layers on top the electric magubbins of the green E-Hybrid model lower down the Cayenne ladder. Yet we found the 680hp, £123,000 TSEH to be a curiously uninvolving driving experience; all point-and-squirt, with a lumbering manner in the corners.

Not so the Turbo, which is hardly inexpensive with a six-figure starting price of £101,155; a figure pushed up on our test car by the set of yellow brake callipers peeping out from behind its standard-fit 21-inch wheels, indicating that the £4,217 Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) have been fitted. Nevertheless, you'll happily pay such stonking money for that equally stonking engine. The rich wave of power it doles out is seemingly relentless, making a mockery of the vehicle's overall 2.25 tonnes of mass and manage to shock you under full acceleration, even in an age where 900Nm SUVs are not uncommon. That the Turbo also sounds magnificent is just a very welcome bonus finishing touch to the phenomenal performance this Tiptronic/Porsche Traction Management-equipped 4.0-litre drivetrain possesses.

The Cayenne is also wonderful to just amble around in, with supple damping providing a high-quality ride, while noise suppression is as good as any other large SUV we can think of. Nearly 300 miles of driving on mixed roads still saw the average economy come out the right side of 20mpg, while the Turbo's best of 26.2mpg on an A-road cruise is nothing short of remarkable, given its sheer physical size, its sheer aerodynamic bluntness and its V8 engine's sheer power. But it's also fantastic in the corners. Grip is immense, turn-in is admirably sharp and the steering feeds back plenty of information. It's not quite a 911-on-stilts, but from behind the wheel the Cayenne is so clearly sired from the very same enviable Porsche DNA. It's quite superb to drive.

However, the Cayenne's problem is its market placing. As Porsche's biggest SUV product, it has to be as big as it is to sit above the Macan, and we reckon the Cayenne's little brother is the sharper tool of the Stuttgart maker's 4x4 duo. While there's no denying the amount of black magic Porsche's chassis engineers have poured into the Cayenne to make it so involving in the corners, to make it dance the way it does on the right roads, there remains an ever-present background sensation of there being lots of mass on the move when you're pushing the SUV's limits. It's nothing like as pronounced on the Turbo as it is on the cumbersome TSEH but there's a mite too much body roll during very hard cornering, just a little too much dive when you're hard on the carbon brakes, just a slight concern that said PCCB stoppers are working overtime to rein in the huge body of the Cayenne from the sort of ridiculous speeds that its gem of a 4.0-litre motor can conjure up.

Perhaps it was merely bad timing, as the Cayenne Turbo arrived for testing immediately after an Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. And the Italian's almost 400kg weight advantage makes itself extremely noticeable, so that - despite its 40hp power and 170Nm torque deficits - it actually has a better power-to-weight ratio by 35hp-per-tonne than the Porsche's admirable 244hp-per-tonne. The Alfa cornered flatter, had slightly more informative steering, felt a little more rear-biased... in short, it felt like the performance SUV benchmark. The Cayenne has had to cede its long-held crown.

Still, the top-dog Porsche remains one of the best SUVs of any size or shape for driver reward, while it is also supremely well-rounded in all regards so that you could imagine it being the only vehicle a (well-off) household could want or need. And, as both the Macan and Stelvio are in the class below, then the Cayenne Turbo is holding on as king of its particular large SUV hill, when it comes to dynamic entertainment. It even looks good on the outside these days, so - really - what's not to like?


Bentley Bentayga W12: more power, more weight, more luxury, the Bentayga is seriously impressive but seriously expensive when compared to the Cayenne, to which it is (distantly) related.

BMW X6 M50i: there's a new, 625hp X6 M Competition coming, although the 530hp M50i is already mighty potent. But, lordy, look at the blinking state of the third-generation X6... it's not pretty, is it?

Range Rover Sport SVR: has an outrageous supercharged V8 engine and a very well-sorted chassis, but the Porsche is a touch more engaging still.

Matt Robinson - 11 Jun 2019    - Porsche road tests
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- Cayenne images

2019 Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Image by Porsche UK.2019 Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Image by Porsche UK.2019 Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Image by Porsche UK.2019 Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Image by Porsche UK.2019 Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Image by Porsche UK.

2019 Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Image by Porsche UK.2019 Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Image by Porsche UK.2019 Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Image by Porsche UK.2019 Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Image by Porsche UK.2019 Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Image by Porsche UK.


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