Driven: 2011 Porsche Cayenne Turbo

2011 Porsche Cayenne Turbo

The suspension is now largely made of aluminum, not steel, which alone reduces weight by 73 pounds. The Turbo model is fitted with air springs, adjustable dampers (PASM), and bigger vented disc brakes. If you think that's plenty of high tech, check out the options list. There you will find additional sparks of genius such as the dynamic antiroll system (PDCC), carbon-ceramic brakes (PCCB), torque vectoring (PTV Plus), and radar-based cruise control.

Is it really worth spending the equivalent of a base Volkswagen Golf on these goodies? Well, the dynamic chassis control device does keep unwanted body motions to a minimum, but by doing so it narrows the demarcation zone between grip and slip, thereby virtually eliminating an important warning signal. Torque vectoring is also a good thing. It improves turn-in by decelerating the inside rear wheel while at the same time feeding more torque to the outer rear wheel, triggering a yaw moment that helps to keep the car on course. The expensive carbon-ceramic brakes are, however, difficult to justify for anyone but the most aggressive drivers.

A couple of inches longer than its predecessor, the new Cayenne offers more rear legroom. The split bench slides fore and aft a generous 6.3 inches and the seatbacks adjust within a six-degree range, allowing you to choose between passenger comfort or cargo room.

But the most significant improvement concerns the classier and more user-friendly interior, which mixes design elements from the Panamera with higher-quality materials and a bunch of new options. The dashboard, which used to be an overstyled yet underwhelming slab of plastic with an extremely busy center stack, has been completely revised. Gone are the hard-to-use navigation system, the difficult-to-reach climate controls, and the not exactly self-explanatory buttons and levers for ride height and damper calibration. The Tiptronic S gearbox can now be operated by paddles rather than thumb switches (albeit at extra cost), the larger color monitor is a touch screen, and dialing in your preferred dynamic vehicle setting is no longer just a fiddly exercise.

The four round instruments have moved a little closer together and include a new multifunction display. There are two high-end sound systems to choose from, one tuned by Bose and the other by Burmester.

The dynamic light system (PDLS) automatically adjusts the range and intensity of the bixenon headlamps in accordance with speed, weather, and driver environment. Blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control with a brake-to-stop function are also new. Gone for good are all off-road-related options and with them, we hope, the silly Transsyberia package.

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