And you may ask yourself, "Where is that large automobile?"
Apologies to the Talking Heads whose lyrics are never more prescient. I don't have a Porsche V8 anymore. First time for over 20 years. It is quite hard to put into words what I feel about selling my Cayenne Turbo. Yes it went to a good home. Yes it was the right decision to make for me at that moment when I decided it was time for it to go. Yes it made sense to me. But emotionally. No. I loved it. I loved everything about it. I loved the DNA from the 928. I loved the story around its development. I loved the Turbo. Everything.
Back in 2004 we went on holiday to Florida. On our way to our hotel from Miami, we stopped for lunch at a really nice burger joint in a smart town if I remember correctly. Anyway, on the way back to the car we passed a bookshop. A car oriented bookshop. I popped in and came out with a book about the Porsche Cayenne and its development. The book chronicled the introduction of the Porsche Cayenne, Porsche's first Sport Utility Vehicle. Clearly officially sanctioned, the publication was full of details about the development of the Porsche supercar SUV with hundreds of colour photographs, much like Project 928 (Amazon UK) for the Porsche 928. It covered all the launch models of the Cayenne, including the S and Turbo. I read it from cover to cover on that holiday and still have it. It was 50 bucks then but is far more expensive now from Amazon!
The Cayenne, I reasoned at the time, was the car for me. This was the car that represented Porsche’s ambition for the V8 and for the future. A Porsche SUV. All the Porsche 928 DNA in a more practical and top of the range package. The Cayenne Turbo. It was the only one to have.
The Turbo was a 4.5 litre V8, generating 450bhp. It was derived from (but incompatible with) the Porsche 928. It had a specially designed six speed Tiptronic gearbox and although my manual 928 head told me that a manual Cayenne Turbo would be fun they never made one! The Cayenne Turbo had all the expensive desirable options as standard fitment. Xenon headlights with automatic dynamic headlight range adjustment, headlight cleaning, Air suspension, PCM and Navigation with GSM phone SIM card slot, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) and Porsche Traction Management (PTM), Big Red Brakes, with six-piston monobloc aluminium fixed callipers, heated steering wheel, BOSE surround sound system, Leather everywhere. The turbo shape too was better and more modern somehow than the base model. Larger intakes at the front make it still look dateless today whereas the lower end early models now do look quite dated. The dashboard on the turbo is better too than the lower end. The digital display is far more readable. The lower end dashboard displays look like a retro video game screen in contrast to the the clear scripts in the Turbo.
Pic: Angus Fox.
At the time I had the closest thing I suppose. A Polar Silver Audi RS2 Avant. What a car that was. It was the best car I had ever had. I remember seeing it at the motor show at Earls Court I think. Everything practical about the Avant estate but with Porsche DNA in the engine, gearbox, suspension and wheels and even in the light clusters. Made by Porsche at Werks 1 in Stuttgart it was the beginning of the RS series from Audi and to me the pinnacle. It had an Achilles heel though. It was expensive to maintain and run. All the joins between Audi and Porsche turned out to be weak links. The Audi handbrake for example never really worked properly with the 968 wheels and brakes so MOT’s were often negotiated between Audi and Porsche technicians and the MOT person.
In the mainstream a Porsche SUV was heresy at the time but it was the product of technology forecasting by better minds than mine. It makes perfect sense now. A Porsche SUV. Everything Porsche, with practicality and brilliance too. The perfect summary press picture was of a Cayenne with a trailer towing a race 911. That was the image to project to the potential audience. Especially in the USA Where the German SUV could compete with homegrown models.
I remember talking about it endlessly. If only we could get one of these. Surely it would be the perfect car. All the practicality of the SUV with a Porsche V8 underneath and all the Porsche qualities. It seemed like a pipe-dream at the time, even though I owned a Porsche 928 S4 SE. At the time, and this is hard to believe now I know, the Porsche 928 was a low cost proposition, Manual 928’s were unpopular and difficult to position in the market bargains. This itself a perfect example of why car dealers opinions are next to worthless. My 928 S4 SE with 50k on the clock cost under £25k from a dealer with a good warranty. Even accounting for the year this was a bargain. The Cayenne in contrast was £75k loaded up. It seemed impossible to imagine being able to get one so it became a car to know about rather than one to have.
Fast forward a couple of years and I found myself accidentally owning an E39 BMW M5 after selling the RS2 Avant. What a car it was. A good friend who had bought a new M5 didn't accept the dealer trade in value they offered him for his old M5. He knew I had sold the Audi and was between cars and called me as I remember and said ‘take my old M5 for a month, if you don't want it fine but I’d rather you had it than the dealer’. So I did, and I found it quite intoxicating really. Schnitzer pipes, short shift, and a load of extras made it an unbelievable car so of course I bought it. I think he knew I would.
I ran that car for a while. I had driven it back from Le Mans while it was in its previous ownership. I knew it was a weapon. I loved it. It was a car with a couple of drawbacks though. Firstly it was rather unreliable despite the warranty and main dealer history and careful upkeep. The fuel tank was split in two and had some Heath-Robinson pump to equalise it. This didn’t work well and it broke down a few times. Secondly, it wasn’t really comfortable for long drives. Our signature drive is to Inverness in Scotland which is about 600 miles. The sports seats hurt your legs really to drive it for that long. Thirdly, it was expensive to maintain to the standard I wanted. I know all cars are and I’m not counting tyres disks and pads - you have to pay for them whatever car you have. Lastly, it just wasn’t a Porsche. On the way to Le Mans with admittedly spirited driving we managed to cook the brakes. I have never experienced that with a Porsche and was quite astounded that an M5 should have the issue. But it did. By the time we got to Le Mans the brakes had had it. I have driven to Le Mans in a Porsche 928 and in a Cayenne with no such issue. Big brakes are a costly third party update and to my mind should have been provided as standard.
Anyway, I decided to trade the M5, due to mileage, and the thought of potential imminent large maintenance bills (google VANOS). I wondered about the Cayenne Turbo again. Could it be possible? I found a 2003 Turbo at a Lotus dealer with just 25,000 miles on the clock in Black with the savanna beige interior. I wasn't sure about it but actually it was lovely. The salesman said it would match my wife's handbag which was a little bit insulting (even though, in fact it did). The trouble with savannah beige is that It just looks dirty over time. I’d always choose black if I could but it was my first Cayenne Turbo and the mileage was low and I could just about afford it. So I bought it.
My first Cayenne Turbo
one owner, who went to the launch of the Cayenne, 25000 miles, FPSH, all stamps from one dealer, original invoice (circa £73,000) Porsche Warranty, bought from a decent independent main Lotus dealer etc
Pic: Original advert pic of my car.
|Basalt Black Metallic||20in Sport Design wheels|
|Savanna Smooth Full Leather||Comfort Pack enhanced interior and exterior lighting, welcome home, garage door opener, auto dim interior, power closing tailgate|
|Park Assist Front/Rear||Coloured centres|
|Xenon Lighting||Servotronic speed sensitive power steering|
|Headlamp Cleaning||Electric Sunroof|
|Cruise Control||Rear door sunblinds|
|Driver Memory Pack|
|Heated Front and Rear Seats|
|Heated Steering Wheel|
|PCM with Nav|
|PCM Tel without headset|
It was perfect. It had PCM with Nav, and Comfort, Normal and Sport mode with adjustable suspension. It had a Turbo bar gauge like a 944 Turbo. It was Tiptronic like a 911. It was roomy and an SUV but it fellt like a Porsche with 'live' steering. It had a heated steering wheel, which is one of those options I'd never have chosen but cannot now live without. I loved it. And it was everything I wanted. We put 100,000 more enjoyable miles on it including to the Catalonia Costa Brava in Spain, while trying to ignore the MPG. We kept up the maintenance at Porsche Service Centre Brooklands, whom I would always recommend. If you need main dealer expertise they are the best place in the UK. As it happens it was in for a service and they had a newer lower mileage 2004 for sale with 50k and a black interior and a multifunction steering wheel on it which had been one of their company cars. It was lovely. Better than the one I had. My 2003 car had 20 in wheels, which were very unforgiving on English roads. This 2004 had 19in wheels which felt more supple and the car felt tighter at the same time.
My second Cayenne Turbo
50000 miles, FPSH, Porsche Warranty, direct from Porsche Brooklands - a senior managers own car.
Pic: Angus Fox
I bought it. Brooklands gave me a really fair trade in for my older car which they clearly couldn't sell themselves due to its mileage. It was very decent of them. I paid for the balance for the new one on a debit card! It had a black interior with wood trim but was otherwise very similar to the older model. The detailed spec is in the sales listing for the car on this site here. It was so similar to the old one that none of the family noticed. Usually the extended family has a hair trigger for noticing new cars and commenting on them. Crucially it had a slightly more modern Nav, 4 zone air conditioning, and a better tighter body and suspension. We bought it with 50,000 miles and true to form put another 100,000 miles on it before selling it recently to a 928 owner from the mail list.
In the meantime, those 100,000 miles were majestic. Our Cayenne Turbo took us across the country, as well as to the South of France. It never put a foot wrong. We blew a tyre on the way back from Monet’s garden but that was just a quirk of fate, it was nothing to do with the Cayenne per se. The tyre warning system lit up and I was watching the pressure go and said ‘I have to stop we have a puncture’ My wife said ‘but you cant feel any difference’ I said thats because of the stability management in this machine. I was doing about 90mph. Slowed and pulled over by which time the tyre was completely flat. We got the car recovered which is another long story but everything except the cost of the tyre was paid for by the AA. I almost didnt take out international insurance - in the end I did and it was a hundred and fifty quid I think. It must have cost several thousands in hotels, flights, rental cars and taxis to get home and get back to pick it up a week later.
We also made umpteen trips to Inverness in it. All without any drama. It is the most superb UK cruiser. Any sign of trouble and you can accelerate away or brake safely. It is as comfortable on a B or C orad as on a dual carriageway or motorway. We drove my daughter to Munich in it to University, and on up to Leipzig where it was manufactured, to visit Colditz Castle. This trip enabled me to get to an indicated 160 mph. It was sublime to drive. Poised on the road, and feeling utterly utterly safe.
I didn't really want to sell it but I felt it was time. Time because we felt like we needed something newer. But also time because we are going through a rethink about what car to have. I oscillate between a newer Cayenne Turbo S, a Ford Mustang Mach-e and a Touareg R. These are not simple equations. I have spent much of my idle time looking at cars and their pricing since I was a teenager really. It isn't an easy equation with a simple result. So much hinges on things that turn into conversations that start ‘it depends’.
The Mustang Mach-e is really interesting and a contender because it is an SUV, it represents the state of the art and it is a Mustang which is fun. I was always a Ford driver as a teenager (Cortina, Xr3i) and they do endurance motorsport well and thats important to me. The Mustang certainly has the credentials of a major manufacturer behind it. Made in China and Mexico, the options are simple 2WD or 4WD and three different models with power choices. For me it would probably have to be the top model. I always like the top model with no extras because then most of what I need is built in. The Mustang would induce range anxiety though as it is only good for about 270 miles in base form and 330 in the top model still isn't enough to drive to Scotland without probably a couple of stops of an hour with suitable available charge stations. That isn’t really good enough for me and hauling dirty cables around forever doesn’t seem to me to be progress. Electric cars aren’t quite there yet it seems to me. Also, it is not a Porsche.
The Touerag R is a hybrid, based on almost the same technology as the Cayenne Hybrid. It is the first ‘R’ model they have made and would be loads of fun. We have another car, a Golf R which is pretty perfect really, but it is not an SUV and it is not made by Porsche. It doesn't need an MOT yet though so its still nice and new. The Golf R has a digital dashboard which I love, but the Touerag R takes this forward a level with a panoramic digital dashboard and Im a sucker for tech in cars. I love new technology and make mobile phone apps for a living so I use carplay and Android Auto all the time so this car has my attention. It would easily cope with the Scotland trip, would fit the SUV requirement and would fit the performance requirement. But, it too is not a Porsche.
That leaves me with the Cayenne Turbo S. They are lovely. They guzzle gas, they cost a lot for Vehicle Excise Duty (road tax) but they are ULEZ compliant for London at least so those occasional trips into town are just about the congestion charge. They dont have Carplay (in a model I cold possible reach) but they do have DAB and adaptive cruise. The trouble is they are eye-wateringly expensive for a recent model. But they tick all of the boxes. And perhaps would be the last combustion engine car to buy before the big switch over to electric. I’ll just have to start saving! Stay tuned - I may soon find myself behind the wheel of a large automobile again.