Porsche’s as-yet-unnamed Ultra-Cayenne is the upcoming German competitor to Lamborghini’s Urus and Aston Martin’s DBX, not to mention Ferrari’s soon-to-be-unveiled Purosangue SUV. On Wednesday Porsche announced that the superfast Cayenne has already set a new Nürburgring Nordschleife lap record for SUVs with an impressive, if not super relevant, time of 7:38.925 minutes to complete a lap. Porsche test driver Lars Kern was on hand to set the lap in a lightly camouflaged series production Cayenne based on the rakish “Coupe” bodystyle introduced in 2019.
“Over the first few meters of the Nordschleife in this Cayenne, you’re tempted to turn around to make sure that you’re really sitting in a spacious SUV. Its high steering precision and stoically stable rear axle gave me a lot of confidence in the Hatzenbach section,” said Kern of the driving experience. This seems pretty familiarly Porsche, as I’ve frequently felt the same way about the various Panameras I have driven. The company has a knack for building large and heavy machines that drive like compact sports cars, and this low and fast SUV should follow that same trajectory. “It changed direction at lightning speed in the fast curves such as between Hohe Acht and Eiskurve, with no wobble and no tendency to understeer. Even in this technical stretch, the Cayenne is a real driver’s car that is easy to control,” Kern continued. “The wheels normally leave the ground at both the Pflanzgarten I and II crests but these sections felt smooth and quiet in this Cayenne. There is a lot of wheel travel, and the body stays solid and controlled. The drivetrain makes a really strong impression. It delivers power in every situation as well as perfect gear changes.”
For safety purposes, the Cayenne was fitted with a roll cage and a racing seat with harnesses. Otherwise, the Cayenne was fitted with all of the equipment it will have when it comes to dealer showrooms later this year (we assume). This includes a massive set of Pirelli P Zero Corsa steamrollers in 22-inch sizes. The rumors indicate this monster Cayenne will be powered by a 600+ horsepower version of the Cayenne Turbo’s 4-liter twin-turbo V8, good for a low 3-second 0-60 time, and a top speed nearing 190 miles per hour. This should be a hefty track bruiser with impressive performance and room for your whole family.
Here’s the thing, though. Who cares about lap times? Is there an SUV buyer out there looking at this and thinking they want a full-sized five-seater SUV with a track performance focus? Who needs a high-powered SUV in times like these? Will anyone actually take one to a track day? I understand that Porsche went and set this lap record so that people like me would write headlines about it, and if you look around the internet you’ll see hundreds of car enthusiasts lauding this mega Porsche as the next hottest thing. Oh man, it lapped the ‘Ring in the same time as a 997 Turbo did back in 2008! Who cares? For performance driving I’d still much rather have that 997 Turbo, and for daily commuting I’d much rather have a Cayenne e-hybrid.
Fast SUVs don’t make any sense. They’re compromise machines that don’t do anything particularly well. If this Uber Cayenne had just been developed as a sedan or wagon, it would be even more impressively fast around a track, as its tall suspension and roll center wouldn’t be a hindrance. Is it impressive that Porsche’s engineering department can build a Cayenne this quick? You bet it is. Does this lap time add any relevance to the ultra Cayenne’s buyer? Do they care about lap times, or do they just care about having the most expensive and most impressive car on the dealer lot?
Ask yourself this question; How many Cayenne buyers know what the Nürburgring Nordschleife is?