The very idea of Porsche entering the SUV market caused an uneasy stir when the Cayenne first appeared in 2002. But Porsche was keen to tap the new wealth of countries like Russia and China, where multi-millionaire oligarchs were sprouting up everywhere but crumbling road surfaces ruled out high-status sports cars.
Being Porsche, the company hasn’t done things by halves: the introduction of the Cayenne has raised the SUV benchmark by several notches — albeit with a heavy emphasis on ‘sports’ and scarcely a trace of ‘utility’.
The top-of-the-range Turbo S is twice the price of the basic model, which may seem exorbitant but, once you examine its spec, the reason becomes abundantly clear — the Cayenne Turbo S is simply the most powerful and luxurious SUV in the world.
Its dexterity both on and off road belies its looks; despite its massive appearance, it is extraordinarily nippy — acceleration that matches Porsche’s Cayman S! — and in difficult conditions its 521 bhp gives a performance that can only be described as awesome. It has a super-luxurious interior to match its price and advanced safety systems to appease even the most anxiety-prone neurotic.
The Cayenne could never be described as a ‘fun’ car; rather, it imposes itself on the road with a haughty efficiency. But if your aim is to be an imperious commander of the universe, safely cocooned from the rabble in your luxurious padded cell, then the Turbo S certainly goes all the way to realizing the fantasy. It just seems a pity that a vehicle superbly designed for crossing the Gobi Desert should have its potential wasted on people-carrying in the posher parts of the home counties. The Cayenne is certainly powerful; only its street cred is a tad dubious
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
4,511 cc V8
Top speed of 168 mph (270 km/h); 0-60 mph (97km/h) in 5.1 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
No Turbo S versions of the Cayenne were produced in 2007-8. It has been brought back for 2009 (with an extra 30 hp) and the next generation in 2010 will have a 580 hp V10 engine.