The third generation of Porsche Cayenne model range was introduced in the country recently, along with the Cayenne Turbo, the flagship of the Cayenne range that debuted just over a year ago at the 67thInternational Motor Show at Frankfurt. While the Cayenne model range starts at Rs1.19 crore, the Cayenne Turbo is priced at Rs 1.92 crore.
Behind the wheel of the Cayenne Turbo, it is hard not to think about the classic 911 Turbo when it comes to performance. The Cayenne Turbo is like the love child of the classic 911 with the Cayenne. In an outright drag to 100kmph the Cayenne Turbo comes tantalisingly close to the 911 Turbo’s performance. The Porsche Cayenne Turbo has a power-to-weight ratio of 249.2bhp/tonne, as compared to the 911 Turbo’s 318.5bhp/tonne.
Even more impressive is the way this over two-tonne, kerb weight is 2175kg, SUV launches itself. To describe it as violent would be an understatement. Those wide Pirelli P Zeros – 285/40 up front and 315/40 at the back – clad 21-inch wheels grip the tarmac for an instant and then you’re leaping for the horizon at a pace that whips your head back into the headrest and tears the cheeks apart till you’re grinning harder than a skeleton. Even from the back seat, which is surprisingly comfortable and totally inappropriate for an enthusiast to be in, you’ll be completely taken in by the Cayenne Turbo’s response.
“Once at the wheel, you get the distinct feeling that you’re driving something far less bulky than the one you just climbed into. A lot of this sense is down to the inclusion of rear wheel steering”
The transmission is an eight-speed automatic and even though it’s super quick you’ll struggle to shift up in sync with that rev happy engine’s demands. However hard we tried to avoid the limiter, which only kicks in close to a heady 7,000rpm, we mostly failed. Our tugs on the paddles just weren’t quick enough. I’m sure if it weren’t for those fractions of seconds lost to the limiter we’d have been able to post even higher speeds than the ridiculous numbers we were already getting up to as easily as if it was all child’s play. “Mad response. Mad response,” Sirish kept mumbling after a couple of aimless rounds of the Lap of Mutha.
And it isn’t just the response from that beautifully engineered powerplant that completely zaps you out. It’s also the Cayenne’s incredible agility. For an SUV that is nearly five metres long, two metres wide and over one and a half metres tall, the Cayenne has a surprisingly ability to shrink itself around you. Once at the wheel, you get the distinct feeling that you’re driving something far less bulky than the one you just climbed into. A lot of this sense is down to the inclusion of rear wheel steering, which in Porsche speak is rear axle steering. What this does is virtually alter the vehicle’s 2895mm wheelbase in tandem with the driver’s steering inputs. Virtually of course. As a result of this, turn in is much sharper and we initially found ourselves facing where we wanted to go slightly before we expected to since it’s quite natural to expect a vehicle so big and bulky to show understeer characteristics. Especially since it’s equipped with permanent all-wheel-drive. And that leather-wrapped steering, a bit of a dampener since you wouldn’t be wrong to expect Alacantara in a vehicle so sporty, is not just Porsche-precise but also as direct in its communication to the driver as dad has always been with me. Plain speaking only. And no nonsense.
“No sportscar I know can maintain the relentless turn of pace that the Cayenne Turbo is capable of, out here in the real world of broken tarmac, patchy roads, ruts, potholes and bumps”
Driving back to our rendezvous with our master snapper Gaurav, we get a particularly rough patch of road. No matter if you’ve stuck it in the aggressive Sport Plus mode or the relatively sedate and comfy Normal mode. Add the SUV’s ground clearance to this and you’re looking at an unreal combo really. An SUV with genuine sportscar like performance. No, wait. This is better than a sportscar. No sportscar I know can maintain the relentless turn of pace that the Cayenne Turbo is capable of, out here in the real world of broken tarmac, patchy roads, ruts, potholes and bumps. Sure the 911 Turbo will leave this Cayenne in its venerable dust on a track or a drag strip but on the Lap of Mutha, I doubt it would be able to keep the big brute SUV in its sights.
Honestly, there’s no point in me talking about how well crafted the interiors are and how premium they feel. Would you expect, or even settle for, anything less in a vehicle that carries an ex-showroom price tag of Rs 1.9 crore? Thought so. But the Cayenne Turbo does have an area or two that could be bettered. For one, that steering wheel could have been, no, should have been, wrapped in Alacantara like the pillars and the roof. The paddles should have been a bit bigger, flashier and brasher. They do the job but they don’t feel special enough. Nitpicking, am I? Well, you see that’s pretty much all you can do when you’re faced with “The gold standard by which all performance SUVs are still judged,” as Sirish wrote on his Insta feed after a day out with the incredible Porsche Cayenne Turbo.