2018 Porsche Cayenne Turbo — Road Test

Posted on Nov 8, 2017 by
2018 Porsche Cayenne Turbo
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AEDAED554,300
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Review Summary:

The third-generation Cayenne is all-new sitting on VW Group's MLB modular platform with 48-volt electrics driving plenty of high-tech gizmos - we test the Cayenne Turbo to find out if the new top-dog is all that...

Pros

Tremendously fast and comfortable and absurdly capable and not just for a 2.2-tonne SUV; loads of great new kit, including an intuitive voice control system, plus more room all around

Cons

Unusable on the road in its most extreme Sport+ settings, and not that exciting to drive

Auto Middle East headed to the Greek island of Crete to try the all-new third-generation Cayenne Turbo, all 550 horsepower of it…

2018 porsche cayenne turbo 7

Well, well, if it isn’t the all-new third-generation Porsche Cayenne, and in top-dog Turbo trim too, I see?

Yup, it’s all-new, based on the same platform as the Bentayga from sibling marque Bentley and powered by a 550 horsepower 4.0-litre V8 capable of producing 770Nm from 1,960rpm . It’s the flagship, for now, until the others start arriving in cohorts, including likely a 680bhp electrified model in the vein of the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. It’s all about the tech, like 48-volt electrics running a three-chamber adaptive air suspension, and rear-axle steering, carbon ceramic brakes, active aerodynamics, lightweight construction, driver assistance systems including night vision, and a digitalised interior with a minimalistic design culling loads of physical switches and buttons.

Oh great, so I won’t have a clue what I’m pressing.

Porsche has combined a new, bigger interior affording more passenger and cargo space with its updated current-generation design ethos comprising digital screens in the dash and centre console and a pretty powerful, customisable driver’s console.

2018 porsche cayenne turbo 7

You can use your voice to easily call up several commands, or just try saying, “I’m too hot,” or “Avoid highways,” and the lady behind the 12.3-inch screen obliges. Otherwise the controls respond to touch with haptic feedback so you only need about as much distraction as you did before with actual buttons. Minimalism only gets you so far — the car has so much technology and driver assistance systems and gizmos that even with a button-free interior there’s still an awful lot to get used to in here.

Such as?

Well, it’s a Turbo, right, so you get 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 286km/h. You also get electrically assisted steering that works with the rear axle that itself steers by up to three-degrees to aid maneuverability and high-speed stability, plus a staggered tyre set-up on 21-inch wheels. To exercise all that, including the 65-kilo lighter body compared to the second-generation predecessor model, you’d best figure out how to get the most out of the 2018 Cayenne Turbo.

2018 porsche cayenne turbo 7

First you need to lower the chassis in the display’s ‘Car’ set-up screen, and then adjust the suspension on the centre console, followed by a turn of a knob on the three-spoke steering wheel. Only then is everything dialed in and firmed up in Sport+, at which point you quickly get tired of the extremely hard-core ride and bring it down to notch to regular ol’ Sport where the throttle and transmission responses are sharper, but the suspension just right for road use.

And then what happens?

Then you marvel at how a nearly 2.2-tonne SUV handles incredibly tight and twisty corners climbing up and plummeting back down towards the Mediterranean sea on the Greek island of Crete where we tested the car. It is absurdly fast, way past the point of irresponsibility. Good thing you have the steel brakes coated with a special mirror-finish tungsten carbide material to improve braking and durability as standard, or even better, the carbon ceramics discs measuring 410mm up front on our tester (a 21-grand option…). You’ll need them a lot considering the ludicrous way the Turbo picks up speed in the narrowest of gaps.

2018 porsche cayenne turbo 7

I take it it’s good to drive then?

It’s incredibly… effective, we’d say. We wouldn’t call it fun, exactly, but perhaps the fun comes from the wonderment you’re left in after the experience — sitting lower than before the third-gen Cayenne is a fair bit longer than the second-gen, so it’s a lot of car to be wilding around in this manner. The thing just about can’t be unsettled. And that’s interesting, and extremely commendable, if not exactly exhilarating. The engine, for example, doesn’t sound at all exciting and merely makes noise, and the Cayenne’s luxury and opulence in its build quality does isolate the experience somewhat.

2018 porsche cayenne turbo 7

Should an SUV even be that fast, then?

When it has the Stuttgart crest on the bonnet, it has to. It has to go off-road too, although the off-road portion of our test drive was just a dirt road up an olive grove, and anyway you’d be severely limited with those 21-inch wheels and low-profile tyres. Porsche is proud of the fact its Cayenne Turbo laps the ‘Ring in under eight minutes too, but that’s another SUV paradox that isn’t really worth dwelling on… for now.

You mentioned active aerodynamics — sounds interesting…

2018 porsche cayenne turbo 7

Mildly — this Cayenne has an active rear spoiler for the first time, capable of lifting to four pre-set positions, including by 80mm under braking to aid stopping times. All models also get active cooling flaps to minimise drag when less cooling is required.

How much does it cost?

You can order one already, but you’ll only get it in February 2018 at the earliest, with prices for the 2018 Porsche Cayenne Turbo starting from AED554, 300. That is of course before you start getting lost in the wonderful world of Porsche options — you can have a panoramic sunroof, Burmester sound system, ventilated seats, soft-close doors, it’s a long list…

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