It’s nearing old-hat at this point to say, "The Porsche Cayenne is a tall Porsche sports car." But that is exactly the point. The idea of a nearly 5,000-pound, high-riding SUV being agile and sporty may not compute, but there it is. The Cayenne is a vehicle that makes a sports-car fiend shake their head a couple times — once to express just how ridiculous the premise is when walking up to it, then again while driving in appreciation of how well Porsche managed to execute it. The folks in Zuffenhausen are not known for underachieving. Like every Porsche in the company’s ever-expanding lineup, the Cayenne offers multiple levels of aggression. This time, we have the Cayenne S — a sizable step up from the base Cayenne, but still far from the Turbo. Every Cayenne variant we’ve driven to date has left us smiling, and the S managed to keep the streak alive. Under the tall hood and behind the awkward grille is a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 that makes 434 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. That’s substantially more than the base single-turbo V6’s 335 horses and 332 pound-feet. According to Porsche, the trip to 60 mph takes 4.9 seconds in the Cayenne S equipped with the Sport Chrono package (ours was), a full second quicker than a base Cayenne, but also a full second slower than the big-T Turbo. The sub-5-second S is more than quick enough for an SUV of its size, and the engine itself is a real zinger to boot. It’s the same power unit found in the Audi RS5 (where it makes a few more horsepower). Due to the significant weight difference between the two cars, the engine feels much more docile in the Porsche. Part of that is the sound. What little noise makes its way into the cabin is pleasant enough, but it would be nice if there were more drama to accompany the acceleration. The RS5 gets that thanks to its guttural and loud exhaust, but in the Cayenne S, you have to tick an option box for the sport exhaust system. Unfortunately, our tester didn’t have it. Turning the Porsche drive-mode selector knob on the steering wheel to its most aggressive Sport+ setting brings out some of the snapping viper we were hoping to find hidden inside. That knob, by the way, is the ideal method of selecting drive modes: Quick, simple and non-distracting, this unobtrusive, clearly labelled knob is a model to follow. The “Sport Response” button in the knob's bullseye is the icing on the cake – it makes you feel like you're in a “Fast and the Furious” movie, activating nitrous. It’s a special little feature carried over from the brand’s sports cars that further drives home the point you're in something greater than an average crossover. Once in Sport+ on a twisty stretch of road, the Porsche qualities really shine. The steering is lightning quick and weights up nicely. The nose tucks into corners, reacting more like …
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|MPG||19 City / 23 Hwy|
|Transmission||8-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||335 @ 5300 rpm|
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