2006 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S

Tom Salt

Be that as it may, I'm going hunting. One reason to buy a Cayenne Turbo S is to lord it over drivers of the regular Turbo, and I want a chance to rock the party on some Emiraties.

Merging up onto a four-lane highway, I get my chance. As I slide over toward the passing lane, a Cayenne Turbo comes alongside, and it's on. Oh, this is gonna be delicious. I'll toy with him a bit, then slowly but relentlessly pull past, my additional 70 hp providing an irrefutable advantage, until all he can see is that big "S" script on the deck and my quad exhaust pipes staring in his pathetic face. I put my foot down and command all 520 horses and 530 lb-ft of torque, along with the wonderful, slightly muted growl of a big V-8 with two turbo-chargers sitting in the exhaust stream.

But remember that sand in the tire? An intermittent vibration had been afflicting the Cayenne ever since, and as I pull past 100 mph in pursuit of the Turbo (which is now doing at least 120), our car develops a front-end wobble that gives me pause. The sensation is less like an unbalanced tire than an unbalanced washing machine shimmying through the spin cycle-the vibration attacks so hard that it feels like it'll bounce the car off the road. Then it suddenly disappears and I speed up, but it returns even worse. I eventually have to give up, so I set the nav system for the hotel and try to contain my anger as Cayenne after Cayenne-even a V-6 model, for crying out loud-blow past me in the fast lane.

As we get closer to home, the front end starts making more ominous noises. I pull over at a gas station and crawl underneath to have a look, much to the amusement of the pump jockey, who looks like he's never seen a Porsche driver get out of his car, much less crawl under it. The CV boot looks intact, but there must be sand in there, because the constant velocity joint sounds as if it's quickly heading for a velocity of zero. Maybe the sand in the wheel somehow contributed to its demise, but more likely it was just a matter of this particular car having spent two weeks getting thrashed by writers in the sort of sand that infiltrates your every crevice (and the car's, too). At any rate, we won't be taunting any Turbos, which was kind of a relief, because I have no doubt that someone would've forced me to prove that 3-mph top-end advantage in a door-to-door showdown that could very well have ended badly.

Even if I had put the hurt on a Cayenne Turbo, the vanquished driver could take solace in the fact that I'd paid dearly for the privilege. The Turbo S costs $112,415, a premium of $21,400 over the Turbo. Is it worth twenty-one large to get unique exhaust pipes, slightly bigger brakes, and another 70 hp? Of course not. The Turbo S is 24 percent more expensive than the Turbo, but it's not 24 percent more insane. Of course, in a land of private islands and desert ski-resort memberships, where luxury is redefined daily and nothing is quite outrageous enough, the Cayenne Turbo S offers one indisputable tether to reality that justifies the asking price for those with the means to pay it: no other machine can replicate its abilities, even if the Turbo comes close. If you're after the ultimate SUV yet devised, there's simply no other choice.

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