Well, if this isn't a refugee from the "What-me-worry?" days of the bubble economy, I don't know what is. At $124,800, before options, it's an extra $26,100 over a Cayenne Turbo. Clearly, we're talking funny money here, but if you're wondering, you do get 550 hp rather than 500 and 553 lb-ft instead of 516. Tasked with moving 5192 pounds (before options), we're not talking about a significant - or even discernable - increase in performance; Porsche advertises a 3-mph increase in top speed (to 174 mph) and a 0.3-second-shorter 0-to-60-mph time (4.8 seconds) and a half-second-quicker sprint to 100 mph (10.9 seconds). All of which basically means that here, just as in the Cayenne Turbo, stomping on the gas pedal will have you going scary fast almost before your passenger can get out the words, "Hey, is that a cop car up there?" What's weird, though, is that around town, the Turbo S feels slow, a result of its ultralong throttle pedal travel and syrupy throttle response (this is an off-roader, after all), as well as the transmission's EPA-cheating trick of starting off in second gear. Hitting the sport button gives you first-gear starts and quickens the throttle response - it also lowers the air suspension (good) and firms up the dampers (not so good, particularly given the brittle ride quality of the high-fashion 21-inch wheels) - but you have to remember to do it every time you start the car. You might think that Porsche could give the Cayenne Turbo S the kind of beautifully weighted and tactile steering one finds in the 911 or the Boxster/Cayman, but no such luck, despite the special, speed-sensitive assist in this model. The cabin is decked out in fabulously finished two-tone leather upholstery, but while the ultrafirm sport seats may be just the thing for a high-speed lap of the Nurburgring, they're not terribly comfortable when you're just cruising around.
I honestly can't fathom the need for a 550-hp truck. Were Cayenne owners clamoring desperately for something that could fend off a Saab 9-7x Aero? (On an unrelated note, has anyone seen a 9-7x Aero? Ever?)
Hop inside the Turbo S, and at least you can see that you get a beautiful interior for all the cash you'll need to cough up to own one. Sumptuous leather lines the interior, and a clean, five-gauge dash display gives you all the information you need at a glance. Around town, throttle response, as Joe Lorio says, feels heavy and a little slow, but hammer it on the freeway, and acceleration is almost instantaneous.
2009 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S