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Cayenne Turbo Heats Up

Driven

THE AIRPLANE IS PACKED. Sitting next to me is a young woman with two squirming toddlers and an au pair. I watch the patient mom entertain her 1-year-old while she watches me read AutoWeek. Finally, we chat. She is the wife of a San Diego Padre on her way to Houston. I’m an auto writer on my way to a test track in San Antonio.

Padre wife: “What are you going to do in San Antonio?”

Me: “Test drive the 2007 Porsche Cayenne.”

Padre wife: “I have one of the older ones, and I hate it.”

Me: “Really? Why?”

Padre wife: “It doesn’t have any horsepower! Good grief, it’s a Porsche, and you’d think it would be fast.”

A twentysomething mother of two complaining about a lack of gallop in her tot-toting SUV? Who knew? Apparently, Porsche did. Which is why the second-generation Cayenne Turbo is everything the first generation wasn’t.

Improved driving dynamics in the Cayenne include more horsepower and styling closer to the 911. Larger air intakes and flatter headlights are intended to make the all-wheel-drive SUV more aggressive and dynamic looking. Performance has been increased 12 percent, while fuel consumption is 15 percent lower. A larger displacement engine and direct fuel injection are complemented by the active torque, which shifts from front to rear, holding the Porsche horizontal. With 500 horsepower and 516 foot-pounds of torque, the twin-turbo-charged engine is refined with a boost pressure as high as 26.1 psi under full acceleration from 2,500 rpm.

With no turbo lag and a top speed of 171 mph, it’s a thrill ride on the Continental Tire test track, where the pro drivers take over and switch seats with the journalists. The speed doesn’t come cheap, however. Flaunting a zero-to-60 time of 4.9 seconds, the 2007 Cayenne Turbo has a $93,700 price tag. Not a daunting cost, however, for Padres wives who want to get to Baby Gap fast.

As always, being behind the wheel of a Porsche requires self-discipline. But on the track, we don’t need it. Pulling in the side mirrors and shifting the six-speed Tiptronic transmission into manual mode, we turn off the air conditioning to save horsepower. I ask permission to red-line in second gear and power brake the start. My driver says sure.

The Cayenne Turbo hits 100 mph in second gear firmly red-lined, and San Diego Magazine had the best run of the event. It’s tough to wipe the grin off my face. Unfortunately, most Porsche owners only have bragging rights——not free rein to unleash the king of sports cars on California roads. That’s okay. Sometimes, it’s enough just knowing you can.

The new Cayenne now includes increased performance on pavement along with advanced off-road capability (in an SUV most people will never get dusty). Equipped with all-wheel-drive, air suspension that raises the ground clearance from 8.46 inches to 10.67, a two-speed transfer case and locking center differential, the transition from pavement to dirt is effortless. And the sophisticated Porsche Dynamic Control System reduces lateral movement.

With its interior blanketed in leather seats, a leather steering wheel, sumptuous leather dash, leather center console, door panels, door handles and leather armrests——not to mention 12-way power seats and an abundance of electronic bells and whistles——I don’t see a typical Porsche owner taking this to the sand dunes. Regardless of the destination——a trip to Babies “R” Us, a dash to Petco Park or a jaunt in the mountains——the new Cayenne is a hot ride.

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