2009 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S

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.

As a means of extracting 25 percent more cash from the mindless, superrich dude who just automatically buys the top-of-the-line model, the Cayenne Turbo S is a fine thing for Porsche. But in the wake of the great crash (coincidentally, itself the work of a bunch of mindless, superrich dudes), the Turbo S suddenly seems very much like a historical oddity.

Joe Lorio, Senior Editor

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