2014 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S

550 horsepower turbocharged 4.8-litre V8 is impressively powerful.  The Cayenne Turbo S has monstrous torque

550 horsepower turbocharged 4.8-litre V8 is impressively powerful. The Cayenne Turbo S has monstrous torque

2014 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S

2014 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S

 

Bottom Line:  Big, powerful and stratospherically priced, the 2014 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S is a top pick for the one-percent of the one-percenters who absolutely must have the biggest, baddest, fastest SUVs on the planet.

Just how big and fast is the Cayenne Turbo S?

Porsche’s flagship SUV has jaw-dropping performance credentials.  Porsche claims 0-100 km/h in 4.5 seconds, and a top ‘track’ speed of 283 km/h.  That 0-100 km/h time exactly matches the new 911 Carrera S, and has only a 21 km/h deficit in top speed.  That’s mighty impressive performance for an SUV.  The overall length is within a finger width of the BMW X5 and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Eye-popping lipstick red leather interior impressed many riders

Eye-popping lipstick red leather interior impressed many riders

Second row seats are as luxurious as front

Second row seats are as luxurious as front

How was the Cayenne Turbo S equipped?

Porsche offers a huge list of options for their cars, and our Cayenne Turbo S had it’s fair share of ‘extras’ that fattened the wagon’s MSRP.  The silver paint and lipstick red leather interior were surprising no-cost options.  (On some Porsches, black, white and red are the ‘standard’ colours; another colour choice costs extra.)  The red interior was not to my taste, but nearly every passenger we carried gushed over the interior.

The 4.8-litre turbocharged V8 pumps out a massive 550 horsepower with power delivered through Porsche’s excellent 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission of a permanent all-wheel-drive system.

Our test vehicle was fitted with a skinny (for Porsche) list of options, including panoramic sunroof ($2,110), electric sunshades for the rear side doors ($520), ventilated front seats ($920), keyless entry ($1,250), and rearview camera with park assist.

 

Cayenne's interior and dash layout pinched from the Panamera.  It's 'busy', but is growing on us

Cayenne’s interior and dash layout pinched from the Panamera. It’s ‘busy’, but is growing on us

Large cargo hold makes the Cayenne Turbo S a practical wagon, but one with supercar like performance

Large cargo hold makes the Cayenne Turbo S a practical wagon, but one with supercar like performance

Porsche's business-like steering wheel is bereft of buttons and controls

Porsche’s business-like steering wheel is bereft of buttons and controls

What’s the German maxi-performance SUV like to drive?

You’d think that driving a 550 horsepower turbocharged all-wheel-drive hyper performance SUV could be a handful when testing in the depths of a cold Canadian winter, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Once familiar with the large number of buttons and controls laid along the console, on the centrestack, dash and appended to the stalks protruding from the steering column, the Cayenne Turbo S is a bit of a pussycat when trolling along.

Steering is precise with plenty of feel and the transmission shifts unobtrusively.  Shifts up or down are quick, smooth and responsive.  Aggressive throttle is rewarded with instantaneous thrust, and the Tiptronic transmission responds to heavy throttle by going into a sport mode, hanging in that gear and withholding upshifts until the throttle is in a low load position.

With its monstrous 550 horsepower engine, this Cayenne ought to be a party animal on four wheels, but its surprisingly sedate in normal driving.  In fact, we prefer the Cayenne GTS that earned our No. 1 spot on our Top Ten Drives of 2013 list.  The GTS’s naturally aspirated V8 is much more raucous when applying heavy throttle and it sounds gloriously like an America muscle car.  The Turbo S is muffled strongly by the turbochargers.  And for some reason, the GTS feels more lively, responsive and athletic than the Turbo S.  (We tested the GTS last year in dry, warm weather conditions, so that may partially explain the differences in ‘feel’ of the SUV siblings.)

The Cayenne Turbo S has adjustable air suspension which is controlled from the console.  Our winter testing conditions didn’t allow us to play with the adjustments as much as we’d like, but it’s there and useful.  For winter potholes and ice ruts, we left the suspension set in the ‘Comfort’ mode, and the Cayenne soaked up crater sized road holes with ease.  This is a very comfy cabin that isolates passengers from road irregularities very well indeed.

Highway driving.  We drove the Cayenne Turbo S in very poor winter driving conditions on 600 km roundtrip.  First and foremost, the Cayenne Turbo S is a superb highway cruiser.  And bred on the German no-holds-barred autobahn, we didn’t expect anything less than stellar highway capabilities.  The 550 horsepower turbo V8 is a tad thirsty.  Nobody buys a $173,000 dollar SUV and worries about fuel consumption, but for the record, our vehicle returned a ho-hum 14.5 l/100 km in extended highway driving, according to the onboard computer.

Complaints?

Slippery winter roads prevented any hard acceleration tests, but from a standing start, the Cayenne didn’t launch as hard as we had expected, and certainly didn’t slam our passengers into the seats with the same ferocity as a late model Cadillac CTS-V we’ve driven recently.  Still, mid-range and passing power on the highway is suitably impressive.

Other complaints – look at the options list and Porsche charges a steep $1,250 dollars for keyless entry, but there is no pushbutton start.  You still have to insert the fob into a receiver and turn it to start the vehicle.  And there’s no heated steering; it’s not even available as an option.  These are serious omissions on a premium luxury performance SUV that rings in at gut wrenching $173,265.

Who’s the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S best suited for?

The Cayenne Turbo S is best suited for those who want the practicality of a large, flexible SUV with the go-anywhere peace of mind of all-wheel-drive, wrapped in a handsome package that conceals a maximum performance, world class sports car’s underpinnings.  It’s big, comfortable and has the potential to leave most bona fide sports cars fading rapidly in the rearview mirror.  The Porsche brand sits shoulder-to-shoulder with the best car brands in the world, and it possesses a cachet that’s simply unique in the automotive world.  For some, that’s reason enough to own one.

 

 2014 Porsche CayenneTurbo S
MSRP/Price as-tested $166,600/$173,265
Engine 4.8-litre twin-turbo direct injection V8
Power 550 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 553 lb-ft @ 2,250-4,500 rpm
Transmission 8-speed Tiptronic automatic with permanent AWD
Tires/Wheels 275/45-20 winter
Fuel Economy Rating (L/100km) 14.3/9.3 city/hwy
Options Panoramic roof $2,110; Electric roller sunshade side windows $520; Ventilated front seats $920; Porsche entry and drive $1,250; Rear camera and front/rear park assist $750

 

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