OF ALL the places to launch the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, this is a noodle-scratcher.
A bloody cold and slippery noodle-scratcher.
Iím standing in the snow at a former air force base in Skelleftea, Sweden, with a silver Cayenne Turbo S idling in front of me. All I can think, as the mercury slips to 15 below and another evil finger of wind pricks my neck, is ďwhy arenít we at a racetrack in sunny Spain? Or a section of Germanyís autobahn?Ē
Surely both of these places would better showcase the new Turbo Sís prodigious performance. Remember, this is a car that weighs 2235kg, yet thanks to the colossal grunt of its 419kW/800Nm 4.8-litre twinturbo V8, hits 100km/h in 4.1sec, does a 12.4sec standing quarter mile and laps the Nurburgring in 7m59s Ė thatís a number that would make a 996 GT3 blush. Put simply, now that the 918 hypercar is officially sold out, this is the biggest, brawniest, most powerful Porsche you can buy.
Porsche says weíre in Sweden to assess the Cayenneís balance on low-grip surfaces and the calibration of its many onboard electronic systems; the fact that sliding a two-tonne SUV on ice is incredible fun is simply a bonus.
So whatís new on the facelifted Cayenne Turbo S? The eagle-eyed among you will notice the new LED foglights, slimmer rear taillights and the 918-style steering wheel. The biggest changes, though, have been made to the oily bits underneath.
Power from the 4.8-litre twinturbo V8 is up 15kW and 50Nm, the turbochargers have moved into the exhaust manifold to improve efficiency and response times, and those yellow brake calipers are enormous carbonceramics, 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 like a supercar. We donít doubt that in the right conditions this could be a sub-4.0sec car, particularly given that Porscheís performance figures always err on the side of caution.
A frozen airfield isnít ideal for assessing the Turbo Sís 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 Porscheís chassis control systems (Sport Chrono, torque vectoring, active all-wheel drive), we expect its on-road dynamics to be more of the same.
What we do know is that, despite being four-wheel drive, the Turbo S will power oversteer on ice the moment you so much as breathe on the accelerator.
Itíll even hold enormous, graceful drifts, which makes for days, weeks, even months of slidehappy 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 canít reach the aural delights of Range Roverís 5.0-litre supercharged V8 or Mercedes-Benzís ML63 AMG, soon to become the GLC63.
Then thereís 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.
However, if sheer numbers and brutal performance are your thing, thereís no doubt the Turbo S takes the mantle as the definitive super-SUV.
Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale Porsche Cayenne Turbo S 4806cc V8 (90į), dohc, 32v, twin turbos 419kW @ 6000rpm 800Nm @ 2500-4000rpm 8-speed automatic 2235kg 4.1sec (claimed) 11.5L/100km $284,700 April
Minor visual change; heavy; thirsty; expensive Physics-bending performance; interior quality; immense brakes
Like it or lump it, Porsche is now an SUV company. Last year Porsche Australia sold three times as many Cayennes as 911s, and twice as many of the smaller Macan as Boxster and Cayman combined.
Turbo Sís carbon-ceramics are the biggest brakes available on any Porsche Ė 918 Spyder included. Fronts are enormous 10-piston monobloc calipers with 420mm ventilated rotors, rears are four-piston on 370mm rotors.
Which is faster on ice, with all the onboard computers set to OFF Ė a Cayenne Turbo S or the lighter but less powerful 911 Turbo S? Given both were on hand, it seemed rude not to race them. Check the video link to see who wins.
IF YOU donít care about numbers, then the GTS (above) is the Cayenne to buy. Not only is it $130,000 cheaper than a Turbo S, but on the ice in Sweden it felt like a ballet dancer next to the brutish turbo.
The new GTS ditches its atmo V8 for a 324kW/600Nm 3.6-litre twin-turbo V6. Itís a vastly more economical engine thatís smooth, powerful and responsive, but it canít match the old V8ís rumble.
Handling is sharp and agile, thanks to Porscheís Active Suspension Active Suspension Management and 24mm less ride height. Best of all, the money you save could almost buy a Cayman S.
UNTIL the Turbo S blew it out of the water, this was the quickest SUV around the íRing with a lap time of 8m14s. Blown V8 and two-stage active exhaust sounds better, but with 405kW/680Nm on tap, the Rangie isnít as powerful.
IN THE power stakes, BMWís new high-performance X5 outshines the Cayenne by 4kW. With 423kW/750Nm from its 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, the X5M is just a tenth slower than the Porsche to 100km/h (4.2sec) and, when it arrives in April, should cost a whopping $100,000 less.
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