No country for slow SUVs
It wasn’t much of a surprise when Javier Bardem won just about every supporting actor award up to and including the Oscar for his portrayal of hit man Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. That look—alternately blank and absolutely sure of his conviction as he killed nearly everyone he met—it sticks with you in the worst way. You want to believe that kind of cold-blooded evil doesn’t actually exist in the world, but then you see what the new Porsche Cayenne Turbo does to its competition.
More important, though, is how it does it. The Cayenne Turbo is Chigurh in the way the Lamborghini Urus is Jack Nicholson’s Johnny at the end of The Shining, hair on fire, wielding an axe, and laughing about the whole thing. Scary, sure, but nothing so insidious as Chigurh’s lack of emotion and inescapable aura. The Cayenne doesn’t look or sound like it’s going to embarrass an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio at the track—but then it does, and without a whiff of mechanical sympathy for the best sport sedan in its class.
That’s right. Like Chigurh murdering that unsuspecting cop, the official vehicle of the Orange County stay-at-home spouse posted a 1:31.59 at Willow Springs International Raceway’s Big Track to the Giulia Quadrifoglio’s 1:31.80. Anyone who didn’t know better would’ve expected the cop to have no trouble with the big, quiet guy with the weird expression (seriously, the Cayenne looks like it’s eating a hockey puck), but a puddle of oil and a chalk outline couldn’t put a finer point on it. Forget breaking the SUV lap record, it hunts sports cars.
“The only time the weight shows up is when I first turn the wheel entering a corner,” test driver Randy Pobst said, “until I get on the power. That’s where the weight shows up, as entry understeer. The nose doesn’t want to come in to point at the apex.
“I made a concerted effort to finish my braking early and go to power early, which is against what I believe as a driver,” he continued. “The understeer is very strong if I’m still trying to slow the car all the way until I’m pointed at the apex, which is what I teach when I’m coaching. In this car, that’s not the way to go. It won’t turn if I’m still trail-braking or trailing throttle, until I go to power.
“I go to power, and I get an instant yaw that eliminates the understeer and even goes to a mild oversteer then stops right there like there’s a yaw limiter. Never felt that before, but I’m OK with that. It was about to become frightening when it stopped. Then it’s stable and secure. Too secure, really. I would’ve liked to have kept some of that yaw. It all happens so quick that I’m convinced it’s electronic, not natural weight transfer. This all-wheel-drive system clearly sends a lot of power to the rear, which makes me happy because it reduces understeer.”
That’s Chigurh when he’s up against bounty hunter Carson Wells. Out in the world on your favorite road, it’s Chigurh versus the driver of the ’76 Ford Granada sedan. There’s no yaw midcorner because you’re not crazy enough to drive that hard. But you are driving hard. You’re driving as fast as you’d drive that Alfa, and despite the Cayenne weighing 1,300 pounds (590 kg) more and standing nearly 10 inches taller, you’re completely calm.
The active anti-roll bars work their magic, and Porsche’s largest SUV flies around a corner as flat as Alfa’s flagship sport sedan. The brakes are as relentless as Chigurh, always there, always capable, even when fatigued. The engine has all the explosive power of his Remington 11-87, likewise sound-suppressed so as not to rile the other guests at the hotel any more than necessary. Ruthless and unflappable. When it smiles at you, you just know it’s disingenuous. It’s here to kill, not coddle.
It’s an even uglier scene at the test track. Thought Wells could’ve taken Chigurh? Would you believe an SUV this big could hit 60 mph in 3.2 seconds? Forget the Alfa, that’s quicker than a Viper ACR. Sure, the Viper pulls ahead by the quarter, but the Cayenne still runs an 11.8-second quarter mile at 115.8 mph (186.4 km/h), quicker than the Alfa (12.1 seconds at 116.2 mph (187 km/h)). It also stops shorter than the Alfa by a foot (100 feet to 101), pulls the same lateral g on the skidpad (0.98 g average), and handily outguns it on the figure eight (23.9 seconds at 0.83 average g to 24.2 seconds at 0.83 average g). Then you raise the air suspension, and it has 9.4 inches of ground clearance.
That’s Chigurh. That’s the Cayenne. It trundles around your wealthy suburbs practically invisibly then lays waste to any vehicle it pleases, absolutely certain of its right to do so. And this isn’t even the S model.
|2019 Porsche Cayenne Turbo|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$146,590|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||4.0L/541-hp/567-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||5,090 lb (56/44%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||193.9 x 78.0 x 65.8 in|
|0-60 MPH||3.2 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||11.8 sec @ 115.8 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||100 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.98 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||23.9 sec @ 0.83 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||15/19/17 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||225/177 kW-hr/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.17 lb/mile|