Porsche Cayenne Turbo Review

Jay Shoemaker
by Jay Shoemaker

Global warming. Some consumers consider hybrids the responsible response. Others are busy taking one last toke on the tailpipe of extravagance. Pistonheads, have I got a bong for you! After accelerating Porsche's 2.5 ton brick to 60mph in less than five seconds, I can only conclude that you NEED a Cayenne Turbo– if only to outrun the Earth Day crowd tossing rocks at your windows. The Turbo is pointless and politically incorrect and you better get one now before all the oil and clean air are gone forever.

The previous Cayenne Turbo was styled by the same people who train (inject? genetically engineer?) WWF wrestlers. The '08 model is even less in touch with its feminine side. In fact, the new Turbo's mammoth grill looks set to swallow a Miata whole. In the rear, quad pipes jutting out from my tester's prison wall rear made an interesting contrast to the trailer hitch ($630) located between them. The Porker's 21" wheels ($4145) had me checking my fillings ($375).

The Cayenne Turbo ($93,700) comes standard with plenty of modern conveniences: satellite radio, heated seats and steering wheel, dual zone climate control, etc. For slightly less than the price of a Kia Rio, your dealer will gladly upgrade his profit your comfort to the requisite extreme. How about a cool looking cargo management system ($590 or the same price as 118 bungee cords)? The panoramic sunroof ($3,900) is a must-see. But I'm not so sure about the rear camera and park distance control ($1680); I'd rather pay a bystander $5 each time I need help backing up.

The Cayenne Turbo's nav system had me wondering about the price of tour guides. I swear: Werner Von Braun couldn't operate this system. After my driving partner and I became momentarily disoriented (lost), he fiddled with the 39 buttons surrounding the nav screen for a good ten minutes. We eventually gave up and retraced our missteps.

As you might expect from a German automaker that came to luxury trucks via purpose built sports cars, the Cayenne Turbo has a few lessons yet to learn. Although the leather makes the grade, the plastic switchgear isn't pleasant at this price and the erstwhile operation of the Cayenne's fold-down rear seats is maddening. Continuing your OCD RTFM education from last week's Bimmer review…

First, squeeze the cleverly concealed latch that allows you remove the rear headrests and throw the neck savers on the floor. Next, pull on the back of the rear seat cushions, starting on the driver's side, until the bench stands upright. Now fold the seat back towards the front– oops, not enough clearance. Open the front door, move the front seats forward. Ignoring the effect on front legroom, fold down the seats [as] flat [as they can go].

On the flipside, Porsche engineers get Mehta-esque mad props for making the "refreshed" ‘08 Cayenne Turbo even faster than its preposterously pacey predecessor. Using direct injection engine technology (applied across the Cayenne line), Porsche's boffins boosted the Turbo's horsepower to 500 and upped torque to 516 ft.-lbs. I'm afraid it must be said: that's an excremental load of grunt for an SUV.

Forward thrust is appropriately brutal. The Turbo's weight actually adds to the experience– in the same sense that an F18 Hornet wouldn't be half as much fun blasting off a carrier deck if it weighed half as much. Unlike the outgoing Cayenne Turbo S, blower lag is no longer an issue. Although there's a momentary delay as the afterburners light-up, the twin turbos are wonderfully responsive to both a wide open throttle and cruise control. As you'd hope, the anchors are automotive arresting wires.

Acronym-starved rivet counters (and the Pendleton District Camera Club) will delight in the knowledge that The Sultans of Stuttgart have blessed the PASM-equipped Cayenne Turbo with yet another automotive acronym: PDCC or Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control. So now upmarket truck drivers get a side order of active stabilizers (on the front and rear axles) with their infinitely adjustable adaptive dampers. With both systems engaged (or at least going steady), you'd swear you were driving a VW GTI with sandbags in the back.

Again, the Cayenne Turbo's fuel economy sucks: 12 city, 19 highway, and a lot less when driven by the type of person bound to buy one of these astounding luxobarges. But hey, it's better than it was– only the EPA's changed the testing procedure so it doesn't seem that way and anyway how many people really care? About as many people who've taken this thing off-road.

If you're ready to party like it's 1999, the 2008 Porsche Cayenne Turbo will gargle gas, accelerate, brake and handle better than any of its competition– you know, if there was any. It's an extremely capable, utterly unique and completely indefensible vehicle. Nice one Porsche.

Jay Shoemaker
Jay Shoemaker

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  • Rcolayco Rcolayco on Jul 08, 2007

    The new Cayenne Turbo is a car that one has to drive to understand what it's all about. I've owned and currently own cars ranging from Toyotas (Corolla AND Land Cruiser) to Mercedes (E200 Kompressor AND E55) to Porsche (996 Turbo, 997 GT3 and Ruf Rt12). None of them quite prepared me for the pleasure of this incredibly versatile truck that combines a plush, quiet ride with quickness that reminds of hot hatches. Oh yes, I forgot for awhile that I did once own a Mitsubishi Evo 7. The Cayenne Turbo isn't quite that agile, but can certainly stay with a less than expertly driven one. But WITHOUT jarring you like the Evo does. In these times, yes global warming concerns do validly cause much guilt when using such a vehicle. What I'm saying is that a car like the Cayenne Turbo is not merely about saying that you've got the money to spend on it. It does provide a motoring experience that one does not get from other, less expensive SUVs or, for that matter, other cars.

  • TheMASS TheMASS on Jul 19, 2007
    Mine is scratched to hell... so what? Everything that gets damaged on a Porsche is gonna cost more to fix than a Chevy. My guess is that a cheap paint job would scratch easier. ...and come on I didn't buy the Cayenne for its looks --ugly... but knowing how it drives makes it look better :) Driving 120MPH+ in the open desert with the choice of gears provided by the torque those Turbos put out is an Off Road reason they are apprieciated. Also remember it's NOT only an Off Road vehicle... It'll smoke almost any car you pull up next to on the road. -- I'm hoping that as more Cayenne's leases expire second generation owners will use them as Off Road vehicles and the Tuners begin offering Off Road upgrades.
  • Juan Let's do an 1000 mile drive and see who gets there first.
  • Eliyahu CVT needed for MPG. Outback is indeed the legacy of, err, the Legacy.
  • Gayneu I can comment on these. My wife always thought the Minis were "cute" so I bought her a used 2005 (non-S, 5 speed) for one of her "special" birthdays. She loved it and I kinda did too. Somehow a hole developed in the transmission case and the fluid drained out, ruining the car (too expensive to fix). A local mechanic bought it for $800.We then bought a used 2015 S (6 speed) which we still have today (80k miles). Her sister just bought a used S as well (also manual). It has been a dependable car but BMW-priced maintenance and premium gas hurts for sure. I think the earlier generation (like in the article) were better looking with cleaner lines. The 2015 S rides too stiff for me (Chicago roads) but is a hoot on smooth ones. It does seem to shift weird - its hard to describe but it shifts differently from every other manual I have driven. No matter how hard I try, so won't let go of her Mini.
  • Crown Seems like they cut some cylinders too.A three cylinder...where are they planning on selling that??
  • Slavuta "There’s also the problem of climate change, and the more intense weather that comes along with it"How could one even write something like this? We don't have more intense weather. We have better weather. When Earth started, it was a fiery ball. We don't know what weather was in 1700. And even if we know some of it in Europe, we don't know what was happening in Africa, South America, Oceania, etc. We have people living in places where they did not live before. We have news that report weather related events minutes later or during. This did not happen before. There is no evidence that we have an increase in intensity. I looked into historical records in the area where I live - there is not much movement at all between 1970 and now. And remember - none of the previous weather predictions have materialized.