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A MID-life makeover has refreshed the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and the flagship SUV model now looks and feels sharper while getting even more equipment. Visually, the organic outlines of the LED head and tail lamps have given way to flatter and more defined shapes that make the Cayenne seem wider, even if the exterior dimensions are no different. Other than the doors, the rest of the sheet metal is new - the bonnet is a wide rectangle instead of the previous V shape, and the tailgate's licence plate indentation is repositioned. More significantly, the 4.8-litre V8 biturbo's output increases to 520 hp (up 20 hp) and 750 Nm (up 50 Nm). Mated to the familiar eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission, it now accelerates from zero to 100 kmh in 4.5 seconds, or 0.3 seconds faster than before, even as it is slightly more frugal, sipping 0.3 litres per 100 km less.
Air suspension is standard on the second-generation Cayenne Turbo, which was first introduced in 2010, and it is integral for the added precision that it lends to the handling. With an optimised suspension set-up that includes stiffer bearings for sportier behaviour but with lower friction to better cushion bumps and improve ride comfort, the difference between Comfort and Sport modes has widened.
The inclusion of the Sport Chrono package also means there is now a third mode - Sport Plus. Sport Chrono enhances the engine, transmission and chassis settings, and includes a stopwatch for lap times. Sport Chrono also comes with launch control - a first for the Cayenne. Called Performance Start, it optimises acceleration from stationary so that zero to 100 kmh can be accomplished in 4.4 seconds, or 0.1 second faster than usual.
Selecting Comfort mode is of course the comfortable choice, while Sport Plus is stiff enough to transmit any unevenness in the road surface right through to your seat. But it is Sport which is the most impressive setting. The damping is firm for reassuringly confident handling at high speeds, yet it is able to smoothen out small ripples on the asphalt.
With active all-wheel-drive using an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch, the Cayenne Turbo is exceedingly surefooted. This is a big and tall SUV - about 4.9 metres long, 1.7 metres high and weighing in at 2,185 kg. But it corners flat like a sports car, with beefy torque in abundance. There is virtually no body roll and its height is only obvious for the excellent forward visibility it affords.
The steering is precise and pretty too. Inspired by the 918 super sports car, the new steering wheel ditches Porsche's traditional rocker shifts for a new pair of paddles - left for downshifts, right for upshifts.
At the same time, the Cayenne is still capable of going off-road. This bona fide sport-utility vehicle has adjustable ground clearance to climb rocky paths and a hill descent feature to descend steep slippery slopes. All while shod with normal road tyres. Still, it comes with all the features of a luxury car. Such as "soft close" doors and a lowerable load sill, which now dips an additional five cm for a 69 cm high loading edge. This operation is also possible from the boot area.
Also new is the engine start button in the lower centre console, thus allowing for truly keyless ignition. As a sports car in an SUV body, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo's biggest virtue has to be its power and versatility.
Porsche Cayenne Turbo
Engine 4,806cc V8 turbocharged
Gearbox 8-speed automatic transmission
Max power 520 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Max torque 750 Nm @ 2,250-4,000 rpm
0-100 kmh 4.5 secs
Top speed 279 kmh
CO2 emissions 267 g/km
Distributor Stuttgart Auto
Tel: 6363 0911