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Drive Review: Porsche Cayenne Turbo (2019) is a XXL 911

The original sports SUV

Well, we wouldn’t go that far since Benz and BMW were predicting the future with AMG-fettled and M- versions as early experiments of a hotly-tipped genre but Cayenne really pushed the concept furthest. Now most buyers are comfortable with the notion of a sporty SUV, setting off a new wave of physics-warping contradictions.

Porsche’s predictable styling

I stress the point that this goes further than an evolution. There’s a lot of alterations here from the lowered roof line, bigger footprint, punchier metal to glass ratio, boomerang’d C-pillar. Like the new Panamera, Porsche has filtered through those unmistakeable 911 elements with just the right amount of differentiation between Cayenne, Cayenne S and Cayenne Turbo models. GTS and plug-in hybrid likely to follow.

Banished the buttons

Previous Cayenne was festooned with switchgear – some buyers rather like that haptic feedback – but the new Cayenne eschews that for oceans of piano black and back-lit display. To a large degree it mimics the Panamera, save for the fiddly digitised central vent, but I can’t help but think VW’s twinned Innovision display is a little more cinematic, albeit optional.

Still very much a driver’s SUV

Many have tried to clone the Cayenne’s handling prowess but they often end up with fused vertebraes for chassis. Not in the Cayenne, it’s still the harbinger of flat cornering; sinuous, beautifully sprung and dripping with actual feedback through its steering. The driving position is pure Porsche – really I think you’re a fair bit quicker in a series of lefts and rights just because of the immediacy you feel. And it’s a special sort of fast; the Turbo, I’m convinced, covers long distance with the 4.0-litre turbo out front and the air suspension down below more effortlessly than a 911 Turbo would.

There are other devices at work, transferred through from Porsche’s motorsport calendar. Cayenne is the first SUV to employ active aero but it’s not just about downforce, but better braking performance too. Wider, active steered, rear wheels versus the fronts is another, as is the 48volt electronic anti-roll bars, pioneered by Porsche. Even the mirror-finish, tungsten carbide brakes is an alchemy known to produce less brake dust and less wear while also costing significantly less compared to ceramic composites.  You can read more about them from our international drive of the new 2019 Porsche Cayenne range

Does Porsche do diesel?

Currently the range is dedicated to petrol in either 3.0-litre V6 turbo or 4.0-litre V8 turbo. If you want diesel, any of the other big German brands will usher you their way. Troubling since diesel accounted for around 40 per cent of Cayenne sales in SA, albeit against the older-spec, normally aspirated petrol.

Tech to connect

It doesn’t really bring anything new the table but the autonomous tech, Apple CarPlay and ability to call up different graphs and graphics in the instrument cluster behind the steering wheel is all very smooth. Other brands are guilty of letting the tech dominate the experience but the Cayenne integrates this into the driving experience with beautiful delicacy.

You seem impressed

Porsche was never going to drop the ball on this one, especially since the updated Panamera prefaced this new cabin architecture. Cayenne feels special, it takes some modular family components but repurposes them and retunes them in distinctive Porsche fashion.  ANDREW LEOPOLD

  • SPECIFICATION
  • R2 158 000
  • 3996cc, 8cyl turbo petrol, AWD, 404kW, 770Nm
  • 11,7l/100km, 267g/km CO2
  • 0-100km/h in 4.1secs, 286km/h
  • 2175kg
  • Verdict: Keeps traditional Porsche owners in the brand. Lures those outside of it.
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