Road Test - Porsche Cayenne Turbo

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Sep 27, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    We weigh the Porsche against other SUVs and give ourselves a hernia

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    BY DAN NEIL
    August 2003

    We like numbers. Numbers are our friends. Numbers sing arias of irrefutable fact that soar above murky choruses of subjectivity, spin, and slant. Numbers can baby-sit our kids anytime.

    So wrap your wetware around this number: 5724—as in pounds, as in curb weight for the Porsche Cayenne Turbo. This is almost exactly the weight of a GMC Yukon XL—a perimeter-frame four-by-four truck with a 12,000-pound towing capacity and 17.6 more inches of wheelbase than the unit-bodied Cayenne Turbo.
    This number—the weight of our test vehicle with all the fluids onboard—is approximately one Harley-Davidson Sportster more than we expected the Cayenne Turbo to weigh, based on the company's specifications. Around the office, many a jaw has gone oafishly slack at this imposing avoirdupois—and the jaw-slacking bar is set pretty high here.

    Our scales, meanwhile, have quit to find easier work in the piano-moving business.

    This number goes to the heart of the Cayenne conundrum: Why, when a statistically insignificant number of SUV owners ever venture off-road, would Porsche—a company that year in, year out builds the best sports cars in the world—burden the Cayenne with such silly amounts of heavy, hillock-humping capacity? Twenty-two-inch fording depth? More than 10 inches of ground clearance, courtesy of a ride-height-adjustable air suspension? A torque-multiplying low-range gear ratio and locking center and rear differentials?

    This is not to quarrel with Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking's decision, in 1998, to stick a Porsche-badged snout in the SUV trough. Nor is it to diminish, exactly, the Cayenne T's off-road abilities, which include leaping over felled trees in a single bound (it has an approach angle of 32.4 degrees and a departure angle of 27.3 degrees). But after 600 miles of mixed driving in the Cayenne Turbo—from Vanishing Point-style transits of upper Lower Michigan to plowing through dirty, smelly filth holes (the restaurants of upper Lower)—we have reached the conclusion that rather than digitally morph a Range Rover with a 911 Turbo, Porsche has created a vehicle that feels like a superb all-wheel-drive tourer with an elephant on its back.

    Is it fast? Is Wiedeking hard to spell? The vehicle's quickness and speed (we recorded 0 to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds and a quarter-mile pass in 13.5 seconds) are stunning, but here numbers fail us; it's not the velocity per se but the giddy sensation of enormous mass being manhandled by oceanic force, like a tugboat thrown on the beach by a tsunami. The Cayenne reactor is a twin-turbo, quad-cam 4.5-liter V-8 with dry-sump and other fancy plumbing to keep it oily and cool in extreme off-roading. Thanks to its VarioCam intake-valve timing, the motor produces peak torque of 457 pound-feet between 2250 and 4750 rpm and a nice fat 450 horsepower at 6000 rpm. The soundtrack to all of this is a futuristic warbling of metallic timbre and menacing vibrato that makes The Matrix soundtrack seem like folk music.

    An Aisin-supplied six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic override converts engine speed to driveshaft rotation with shaved-leg smoothness. Downstream of that is a planetary center differential that normally sends 62 percent of the go juice to the rear wheels, but using a multiplate clutch, the Porsche Traction Management system can shunt up to 100 percent of engine torque to whichever axle needs it.

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    Around-town driving is supremely civilized, with finely modulated throttle tip-in and stop-and-go manners. But when you summon the full 8.7 psi of turbo pressure to pass on a country road—Oy vay!—the Tiptronic executes a nifty double kickdown and the vehicle squirts like hot Cheez Whiz. In the time it takes to swallow hard, the Cayenne Turbo is well into civil-aviation speeds.

    Wow. Imagine what it would be like if it weighed 1000 pounds less!

    If you are so bourgeois as to consider the tedious value formula, the smash-mouth Turbo we tested was $94,980 (with optional niceties such as a sunroof, a CD changer, and keyless entry). The Cayenne S—the non-turbocharged version propelled by a relatively noodle-armed 340 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque—starts at $56,665 and can be optioned to more than $80,000.

    As you might expect, it takes an extraordinary exertion of technology to achieve excellent handling with this much mass while still retaining ride comfort. The suspension is a Byzantine hybrid of control arms attached to tubular and plate steel subframes, with all four corners sitting on air springs assisted by adaptive dampers that can be set in comfort, normal, and sport modes. Vehicle ride height lowers as speeds increase (a full 1.5 inches lower than normal at speeds above 130 mph), and the damper stiffness defaults to sport mode if the vehicle's accelerometers detect more than the usual thrashing about. Porsche Stability Management wrangles the anti-lock-brake, brake-force-distribution, ride-leveling, and all-wheel-drive traction-control systems to keep the Cayenne upright and on course. As a result of these interventions, the Cayenne's dynamics have a peculiar, synthetic feel to them; it sometimes feels as if the faster you go in the Cayenne, the flatter it corners.

    Yet with the damper control set on sport and the ride height on low, the Cayenne arcs around a highway on-ramp with a nice, edgy tautness. The rear end does an ever-so-slight hip shift on initial turn-in, characteristic of recent Porsches, and then hunkers down in a composed four-wheel drift. If the ramp tightens and you need to get out of the throttle, it's okay. The Cayenne, like the 911, does only the slightest wiggle before the rear toe-in tightens up and the tail tucks in.

    Yet for all the sensors, processors, adaptive kinematics, and the like—to say nothing of the optional 19-inch Pirelli P Zero Rossos—the Cayenne generates only decent cornering grip, 0.82 g on the skidpad, a number handily exceeded by an Infiniti FX45, for one. Shove the vehicle around, and you'll soon wish you had more tire under you. The feeling is a little like driving on bias-ply tires.

    The Cayenne's weight dampens our enthusiasm in other ways. The braking distance from 70 mph, 170 feet, is six feet longer than a BMW X5 4.6is's—this despite the fact the Cayenne has six-piston front calipers and gigantic vented discs. And according to fearless leader Tony Swan, this same sport-ute's brakes got a little squishy during his intrepid One Lap flog-fest. How very un-Porschelike.

    Make no mistake: The Cayenne Turbo is an extraordinary machine, beautifully crafted, sumptuously provisioned, modestly—ahem—styled. It is the fastest production SUV on the planet, and it has more off-road chops than Sir Edmund Hillary. It's sure to be a huge status codpiece in South Beach and Beverly Hills. It is the "Porsche of SUVs." We had hoped for a little more Porsche and a little less SUV.

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    Highs: Power and torque worthy of the Richter scale.

    Lows: Mass worthy of the Richter scale.

    The Verdict: Porsche builds a Nietzschean über-Hummer.

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    COUNTERPOINT

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    After exercising this rig on a number of road-racing circuits during the 2003 One Lap of America run, I can confidently say the Cayenne is a lovely highway ride. I can say even more confidently that it is not at home on a racetrack, particularly one with lots of linked turns and decreasing radii. We are talking dynamic reluctance on a vast scale here. A goal was to give it Porsche-sports-car virtues to go with its superb off-road capabilities. But that just ain't compatible with a vehicle weighing almost three tons. I suppose you can teach an elephant to be a sprinter, but why not start with a gazelle?Tony Swan

    Listen up, all you nouveau-riche rappers and cash-phat NBA power forwards who are right now trading in your G-wagens for this even-more-expensive superstatus symbol: You can get stuck in the mud in this wundertruck very easily with these Pirellis, which are designed for the highway. That happened in rural Michigan last spring, when one of us decided to drive through a farmer's soggy field. The expensive 19-inch P Zeros sank right up to the hubs. It was a plain ol' pickup truck that pulled this 450-hp technological marvel from the muck. Reminds us of all the SUV owners we saw in ditches last winter who thought their SUVs made them invincible. —Steve Spence

    It's hard to believe a vehicle this heavy can be thrust forward this quickly with a mere 450 turbocharged horsepower, but the numbers don't lie. The Cayenne is seriously quick, and capable of 161 mph, which puts it in a category all by itself. It's also a demon off-road, as I found out during the course of running in the Cayenne Crossing Drive for Hope, a cross-country charity run using two-lane and no-lane roads on a 2700-mile course. On the Peter's Mill trail in northern Virginia, the Cayenne Turbo just reared back and laughed at the rocky terrain, lifted itself up off the suspension, and handily went through eight miles of pure hell.Jim McCraw

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    PORSCHE CAYENNE TURBO

    Vehicle type: front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 5-door wagon

    Price as tested: $94,980

    Sound system: Bose AM/FM-stereo radio/CD changer, 13 speakers

    ENGINE
    Type: twin-turbocharged and intercooled V-8, aluminum block and heads
    Bore x stroke: 3.66 x 3.27 in, 93.0 x 83.0mm
    Displacement: 275 cu in, 4510cc
    Compression ratio: 9.5:1
    Engine-control system: Bosch Motronic ME7.1.1 with port fuel injection
    Emissions controls: 3-way catalytic converter, feedback air-fuel-ratio control
    Turbochargers: 2, KKK
    Waste gate: integral
    Maximum boost pressure: 8.7 psi
    Valve gear: chain-driven double overhead cams, 4 valves per cylinder, hydraulic lifters, variable intake-valve timing
    Power (SAE net): 450 bhp @ 6000 rpm
    Torque (SAE net): 457 lb-ft @ 2250 rpm

    Redline: 6400 rpm

    DRIVETRAIN
    Transmission: 6-speed automatic with lockup torque converter
    Final-drive ratio: 3.70:1, limited slip
    Transfer-gear ratios: L, 2.71:1; H, 1.00:1

    Gear ... Ratio ... Mph/1000 rpm (L/H) ... Max. test speed (L/H)
    I ... 4.15 ... 2.0/5.4 ... 13/34 mph (6400/6400 rpm)
    II ... 2.37 ... 3.5/9.4 ... 22/60 mph (6400/6400 rpm)
    III ... 1.56 ... 5.3/14.3 ... 34/92 mph (6400/6400 rpm)
    IV ... 1.16 ... 7.1/19.2 ... 45/123 mph (6400/6400 rpm)
    V ... 0.86 ... 9.6/25.9 ... 61/161 mph (6400/6200 rpm)
    VI ... 0.69 ... 11.9/32.2 ... 76/161 mph (6400/5000 rpm)

    DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES
    Wheelbase: 112.4 in
    Track, F/R: 64.6/65.2 in
    Length: 188.3 in
    Width: 75.9 in
    Height: 66.9 in
    Ground clearance: 6.2-10.8 in
    Curb weight: 5724 lb
    Weight distribution, F/R: 52.9/47.1%

    Fuel capacity: 26.4 gal
    Oil capacity: 8.9 qt
    Water capacity: 10.6 qt

    CHASSIS/BODY
    Type: unit construction with a subframe
    Body material: welded steel stampings

    INTERIOR
    SAE volume, front seat: 57 cu ft
    rear seat: 49 cu ft
    cargo volume, seats up/down: 19/63 cu ft
    Practical cargo room, length of pipe: 128.0 in
    largest sheet of plywood: 61.0 x 45.5 in
    no. of 10 x 10 x 16-in boxes, seats in/out 14/28
    Front seats: bucket
    Seat adjustments: fore and aft, seatback angle, front height, rear height, lumbar support
    Restraint systems, front: manual 3-point belts; driver and passenger front, side, and curtain airbags
    rear: manual 3-point belts, outboard curtain airbags
    General comfort: excellent
    Fore-and-aft support: good
    Lateral support: good

    SUSPENSION
    F: ind; unequal-length control arms; 6-position height-adjustable, self-leveling air springs; 3-position cockpit-adjustable, electronically controlled shock absorbers; hydraulically engaged anti-roll bar
    R: ind; 1 control arm, 1 lateral link, 1 diagonal link, and 1 toe-control link per side; 6-position height-adjustable, self-leveling air springs; 3-position cockpit-adjustable, electronically controlled shock absorbers; hydraulically engaged anti-roll bar

    STEERING
    Type: rack-and-pinion, power-assisted
    Turns lock-to-lock: 2.7
    Turning circle curb-to-curb: 39.0 ft

    BRAKES
    F: 13.8 x 1.3-in vented disc
    R: 13.0 x 1.1-in vented disc

    Power assist: vacuum with anti-lock control

    WHEELS AND TIRES
    Wheel size: 9.0 x 19 in
    Wheel type: cast aluminum
    Tires: Pirelli P Zero Rosso, 275/45ZR-19 108Y
    Test inflation pressures, F/R: 38/42 psi

    ACCELERATION Seconds
    Zero to 30 mph 1.7
    40 mph 2.8
    50 mph 3.8
    60 mph 5.0
    70 mph 6.8
    80 mph 8.5
    90 mph 10.5
    100 mph 13.0
    110 mph 16.0
    120 mph 19.6
    130 mph 24.8
    140 mph 32.6
    Street start, 5-60 mph 6.1
    Top-gear acceleration, 30-50 mph 2.8
    50-70 mph 3.6
    Standing 1/4-mile 13.5 sec @ 104 mph
    Top speed (drag limited) 161 mph


    BRAKING
    70-0 mph @ impending lockup 170 ft
    Fade light

    HANDLING
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad 0.82 g
    Understeer moderate

    FUEL ECONOMY
    EPA city driving 13 mpg
    EPA highway driving 18 mpg
    C/D-observed 12 mpg

    INTERIOR SOUND LEVEL
    Idle 43 dBA
    Full-throttle acceleration 72 dBA
    70-mph cruising 67 dBA

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  2. hypermonkey

    hypermonkey Tastes just like raisins.

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    id pimp it :o
     
  3. coronet

    coronet Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep?

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    FX45 > that > *.SUVs
     
  4. EPMD

    EPMD I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. A

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    I love it. Always have.

    It may not be everybody's cup of tea but you have to respect the numbers that beast puts up while maintaining really good off road and towing capability. Porsche doesn't do anything half ass do they.
     
  5. PorscheRacer

    PorscheRacer You see this? It means not welcome

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    Standing 1/4-mile 13.5 sec @ 104 mph
    That's pretty good for a 5 thousand pound suv
     
  6. fooj

    fooj OT Supporter

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    That green is a great looking color.
     
  7. Razardica

    Razardica Active Member

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    Yeah, a 13.5 quartermile is awesome for a car that size.
     
  8. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Closer to 6,000lbs. :o
     
  9. zlliksddam

    zlliksddam New Member

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    having driven both i'd take the infiniti over the porsche; money for mods or whatever but it literally is a tall car that hides it well.
    The porsche feels big and heavy but is probably best at higher speeds like all porsches are
     
  10. EPMD

    EPMD I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. A

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    Did you drive the Turbo? Seriously?
     
  11. one66stang

    one66stang Haters.com

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    I saw one on the road the other day while I was in the 69 Camaro. I revved at her but she didnt bite
     
  12. zlliksddam

    zlliksddam New Member

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    yes :wiggle: being a valet at a country club with a large parking lot has its perks :wiggle:
     
  13. zlliksddam

    zlliksddam New Member

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    oh yeah and the parking lot is hidden from view; and is all private :)
     
  14. HookUps

    HookUps Guest

    Porsche + SUV + V8TT =

    I'd rock one :yum:
     
  15. curiousgeorgeM3

    curiousgeorgeM3 naughty little monkey

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    Exactly why I never let valets even touch my car.
     
  16. T-T

    T-T Born Into Retirement

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    I agree on taking the FX45 over this. It's only a second slower (or so), yet about half the price. Not too shabby everywhere else either. Get a decent roadster with the other half.

    :werd: :rofl:
     
  17. troglodyte

    troglodyte Guest

    Can someone please explain the logic of a high performance top heavy SUV?:wtf:

    Its bad enough we have midless soccer moms driving SUVs like sports cars, now we will get mindless soccer moms weaving in and out of traffic like they're in an F1 race.:rolleyes:
     

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