Review and photos by Lesley Wimbush

2014 Porsche Cayenne Turbo
2014 Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Click image to enlarge

You might remember the “Esuvee” commercials from back in 2005. Part of a public education campaign for sports utility vehicles after a spate of rollovers eventually determined to be the result of driver error, the program included some memorable TV spots.

My favourite featured a rollicking beast, part buffalo, part Bantha – called “Esuvee”.  The huge, shaggy beast – 16 feet long, 11 feet wide and 10 feet tall – busts out of a set of rodeo gates with a smirking and overconfident young man aboard. Clearly, he hasn’t learned to “ride” Esuvee properly, and cornering too fast, they roll over and he’s thrown to the ground.

Well recently, I encountered Esuvee’s Teutonic cousin.  A little more refined breeding program has banished the hirsute shagginess, and it was clad in the formfitting sheet metal that the Germans seem so fond of, but once it lets forth with that distinctive, lusty bellow, there’s no hiding what it is.

This is a ridiculous vehicle.

2014 Porsche Cayenne Turbo
2014 Porsche Cayenne Turbo
2014 Porsche Cayenne Turbo
2014 Porsche Cayenne Turbo
2014 Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Click image to enlarge

Just in case 500 horsepower in a sports utility vehicle wasn’t enough for you, Porsche has upped the ante (and the power) for 2014’s Cayenne Turbo S.

With 550 hp and 553 lb-ft, the Cayenne Turbo S has 50 ponies more than its predecessor.

Picking up the keys to the Turbo S, I swear I heard it snort at me while my back was turned.

Its refrigerator-white exterior had me lulled into complacency – which quickly dissipated at seeing the red calipers peeking through 21-inch gloss black Turbo II wheels.

Up front is a decidedly angry face, featuring gaping, gloss-black air intakes

Quad exhaust pipes finish up the massive haunches, and the evil-looking headlights are outlined in black.

Otherwise, there’s little to differentiate the “S” from “mere” Turbo models.

Outwardly, that is.

The scowling headlights on the Turbo S models are bi-xenon, and feature Porsche Dynamic Lighting System (PDLS) which swivel to follow the curve of a road, offer speed-sensitive range, a self-cleaning system and adverse weather function – which is activated when the fog lights are turned on and reduces reflection to prevent the driver being dazzled. During emergency stops, the LED taillights automatically flash in warning.

Inside, my tester is a study in sybaritic delight. Forget about subtlety – this cockpit is finished in screaming bordello red. Virtually every surface is hand-stitched in Porsche’s signature hides – culled from fat Austrian cows grazed in bug-free, wire-free Alpine meadows.  The headliner is finished in buttery grey suede, soft as a chinchilla’s underbelly.

Dividing the cockpit is the familiar bank of switchgear derived from the 911.  This is flanked by leather-wrapped grab handles (the fact that the driver is also provided with one is a little bit disconcerting).

The steering wheel is fat and grippy with the requisite thumb perches befitting a German performance car.  Its spokes appear to have been machined from solid billet aluminum, which is repeated on paddle shifters, shift console and foot pedals.

The seats are plump and infinitely supportive – 18-way adjustable, they can be adapted to suit pretty much any frame.   If practicality is an issue, and we suspect that in this case, it’s a moot point, the Cayenne seats only five – compared to the Range Rover Sport’s seven.

There’s a certain smell associated with the leather upholstery of the high-end German brands that does wonders for the sense of well-being.

2014 Porsche Cayenne Turbo2014 Porsche Cayenne Turbo2014 Porsche Cayenne Turbo
2014 Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Click image to enlarge

But turn the key (which, this being a righteous Porsche, is located on the Le Mans–derived left-hand side) and all feelings of pampered security vanish.  When that twin-turbocharged 4.8L all-aluminum engine roars to life, the spirit of Esuvee awakens.

Curiously, the Cayenne Turbo S doesn’t have the exhaust-enhancing button that I found so intoxicating on the Panamera Turbo S.  Pressing it rerouted the engine’s song through ductwork piped directly into the cabin and amplified it to nearly pornographic levels.  Nor does it have the spine-tingling voice of the Mercedes-Benz G 63 AMG Geländewagen, which barks and bellows like some Brobdingnagian beast bent on destruction.

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