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Cars Worth Noting – 2004 Porsche Cayenne Turbo

2004 Porsche Cayenne Turbo

Why would famed sports car maker Porsche do an SUV? Porsche’s fast and exclusive sports cars have conquered countless race tracks and massaged affluent egos for five decades. On the opposite end of the scale, SUVs are large, heavy lumps that transport people and stuff looking marginally “cooler” than wagons and vans.

So, Mr. or Ms. Porsche owner, what might be a suitable SUV garage-mate for your famed German sports car? A Chevy, Ford, Dodge? A Toyota, Honda or Nissan? Maybe a Lexus or Infiniti, a Mercedes or BMW? Wait … there’s a Porsche SUV? Perfect!

Porsche purists have been horrified, but since its March, ’03 arrival, Cayenne has substantially enhanced the company’s sales, profits and future viability. Nearly 13,000 (45 percent of Porsche’s 2003 total) found U.S. homes last year.

This 450-hp top-line twin-turbo (a heartstopping $94K as tested) proved marvelous in most ways. At a tick over five seconds 0 to 60, it’s wickedly fast and reasonably agile despite its 5,850-lb. Its interior is gorgeous, its features impressive, but (like many high-zoot Teutonics), the complexity of its integrated audio/nav system’s is off-putting. Germans must love to curl up with owners’ manuals at night.

A proximity fob unlocks the doors on approach. Porsche people will appreciate its left-side ignition switch … others won’t. Then you must step on the brake to fire it up. The audio/nav system is a tedious twirl/select/poke type vs. a friendly touch screen, and some features remained inscrutable even using the manual. One minor irritation: the CD changer’s lazy “random” function must be re-selected (twirl/select/poke times two) each time you restart.

Still, for those with the means and the need for SUV speed with Porsche image, this might be the ride.

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