If you’re going to be interested in any performance SUV, it should be this one. This Porsche Cayenne mates a 404kW/770Nm 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 to a 100kW/400Nm electric motor stashed inside the transmission housing. In doing so, a 500kW/900Nm monster is born, able to fling its lardy all-wheel drive 2535kg from 0-100km/h in a bitumen-excavating 3.8sec.
Indeed, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid ‘Coupe’ is the most equipped, most serious fast SUV Porsche, perhaps any brand, has yet concocted.
As the most powerful performance SUV on the market today, eclipsing even the 478kW Lamborghini Urus (with which it shares its MLBevo platform, along with the Audi RS Q8, Bentley Bentayga and VW Touareg), Porsche has held literally nothing back in equipping its King Cayenne for maximum performance.
Huge 21-inch wheels measuring 9.5-inch wide front and 11.0-inch rear conceal massive carbon ceramic brakes, 440mm fore and 410mm aft, clamped by 10-piston and four-piston calipers respectively. Computer-controlled, 48v-powered anti-roll bars attempt to defeat the laws of physics, while fluoro Acid Green caliper paint – as seen on the badges – shows off that you’re in the hottest of Stuttgart’s jacked-up rally wannabes.
Visually you’ll notice this is one of those new ‘coupe’ SUVs too (though there is nothing two-door and low-slung about it). With its more aggressively raked, 20mm lower roofline (the rear seats are lowered 30mm to compensate) the Coupe also packs a 45kg penalty over its more convention wagon-shaped sibling.
Coupe or wagon, curiously Porsche is yet to fling either Turbo S E-Hybrid at the Nürburgring in an attempt to win back the ‘fastest SUV’ mantle held at one point by the previous Cayenne Turbo S. Presumably, against the likes of the lighter RS Q8s, Uruses, AMG GLC63s and Alfa Romeo Stelvios of the world, it’s just not fast enough.
While able to charge to 295km/h (a possibly bemusing figure for the autobahn daredevils amongst us) the burly Turbo S does have one obvious party trick none of those aforementioned cars could boast: the ability to deliver, for those with a feather-light right foot, up to 40km of electric-only range.
A plug-in hybrid, the Turbo S fully charges its liquid-cooled lithium ion battery (under the boot floor) in six hours from a conventional wall outlet. Top EV-only speed is a respectable 135km/h (electric-only acceleration is 6.8sec 0-60km/h, for what it’s worth) while Porsche claims an impressive 3.9L/100km combined overall fuel consumption.
Climbing aboard, you sit high in the Turbo S with a commanding view. With light and responsive controls, at an urban amble this is a very easy and comfortable car to drive, quiet (too quiet almost – we want to hear that V8!) and riding with plenty of waft on its air suspension. Optional all-wheel steering also makes u-turns and car park navigation a breeze.
Find yourself on a twisty back road and yes, there’s plenty of bear to poke. Acceleration is as mighty as traction is clean, the Cayenne squatting hard as it powers past 100km/h as if with a middle finger raised, letting rip a racy if slightly subdued V8 note in the process. Can you feel the electric motor ‘torque-filling’? Not especially as the twin-turbo V8 is hardly known for its lag.
This is, however, an easy car in which to out-brake yourself, or into corners carry too much speed. It’s just a very heavy and high thing, needing every bit of those bigger brakes and tyres to overcome its extra 335kg over a ‘normal’ Cayenne Turbo.
With a not very discreet hatred for its outside front tyres, a slow-in, fast-out approach emerges as best as the E-Hybrid’s torque-vectoring rear diff helps it pivot as you bury the throttle, a wag of power oversteer even possible if you bury it even further again.
Owing to those anti-roll bars, body-roll is resisted as if it was a 500kg lighter car, but not to an excessive, artificially-flat degree (like other cars with these systems). But for all its clever systems the Turbo S feels to be trying to conceal its weight without quite succeeding. Here it falls down in the driving appeal stakes, yet while still being an incredibly impressive car capable of insane back-road speeds.
Not that any of these will really be doing that. With many likely bought for the electric motor (and green badges) more than for the epic V8, the E-Hybrid ultimately, and sensibly, chooses comfort over cornering ability, showing of all the brands Stuttgart understands the performance SUV better than any other. Nürburgring be damned.
2020 PORSCHE CAYENNE TURBO S E-HYBRID COUPE SPECS
Engine: 3996cc V8, DOHC, twin-turbo, hybrid
Power: 500kW @ 5750-6000rpm
Torque: 900Nm @ 1500-5000rpm
0-100km/h: 3.8sec (claimed)
Price: $334,620 (as-tested)
Likes: Berserk acceleration; lovely interior; easy, comfortable daily driver; EV ability
Dislikes: Height and weight blunt ability and driver appeal; V8 could be more omnipresent
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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