We're fast approaching a yellow triangular sign with a squiggly arrow and suggested speed of "two-zero" for the series of upcoming corners. Glancing at the speedo, we quickly calculate we're traveling at nearly three times the speed the government thinks we should take the curve. We tap the brakes to settle the nose, flow through the apex and squeeze on the power, only to lift a bit to bring the rear around. We repeat the process through the series of switchback turns, and remark to our co-driver that the sequence was almost too easy. The reply instantly cut the Zen-like feeling, "You realize we're driving an SUV?"
Yes, Porsche's Cayenne Turbo does things an SUV shouldn't do: handle canyon roads like a Boxster, be ungodly fast, and carry two-by-fours under the hatch. While we agree the words "Porsche" and "sport/utility" seem to go together like tonic water and 90-weight gear oil, the Stuttgart-based company pulls it off in spades.
Porsche's pepper is certainly spicy under the bonnet, with a twin-turbocharged 32-valve 4.5-liter V-8 supplying 450 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque through the standard fare six-speed Tiptronic and Porsche Traction Management all-wheel-drive system. As one would expect, the setup provides exhilarating acceleration. In our test trials, the Turbo posted a 5.4 pull to 60 mph, and tripped the quarter-mile timing lights at 13.79 @ 102.47.
Of note, the blown motor's engine management system has been specifically tuned not to unleash its ferocity at initial tip-in. There's just a hint of turbo lag as the blades spool up, but power delivery is constant and linear throughout the rev band. Just think Starship Enterprise making the jump to Warp Speed.
To handle the power supplied to the optional 9x20 wheels shod in 275/40R20 shoes (18s are standard and 19s are also optional), the Cayenne's binders employ six-piston front, and four-piston rear calipers with 13.8 and 13.0-in vented discs respectively. Paired with standard ABS, the Turbo takes 320 feet to stop from 100 mph and 112 from 60. We're impressed with the lack of dive and smooth ABS operation that felt powerful and linear, producing string-straight, repeatable stops with minimal fade.