2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid first drive review: Sweet, sweet overkill

With 455 horsepower, 516 pound-feet of torque and some of the best on-road manners of any SUV at any price, it's hard to imagine wanting (or needing) more from the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid. But Porsche believes plug-in power is also worthy of flagship positioning, and so, meet the absolutely bonkers, 670-horsepower 2020 Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid.

This top-dog Cayenne takes the 14.1-kilowatt-hour battery and 134-horsepower electric motor from the standard E-Hybrid and pairs it with the 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 from the Cayenne Turbo. In addition to that pavement-warping 670 peak horsepower, this powertrain is good for 663 pound-feet of torque. In other words, hot diggity damn.

Flooring the Turbo S E-Hybrid is a hilarious and thrilling experience; this thing goes like hell and never lets up. Between the V8 engine's pair of turbochargers and the instant torque provided by the electric motor, there is absolutely no lag whenever you stomp on the gas.

The base Cayenne E-Hybrid is already no slouch, able to accelerate to 60 miles per hour in 4.7 seconds, which is pretty darn good for a 5,060-pound SUV. The Turbo S E-Hybrid cuts more than a full second off that launch time: 3.6 seconds to 60 mph. That means this SUV is quicker than the Porsche 911 GT3.

Along the mountain roads of central Oregon, the Turbo S E-Hybrid is a total rocket. Every version of this SUV is blessed with nicely weighted, accurate steering and the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control and torque-vectoring systems work with the E-Hybrid's standard air suspension and 48-volt anti-roll technology to keep this heaviest Cayenne balanced while cornering. The optional rear-axle steering makes the Cayenne even more agile, and it's a must-have add-on if spirited driving is in your future.

Happily, none of this comes at the sacrifice of excellent ride quality. In fact, the Turbo S E-Hybrid is as supple and sweet in the city as on the highway, even with my test car's upsized 22-inch wheels and low-profile tires.

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Like the regular Cayenne E-Hybrid, the Turbo S can drive under electric power alone for short periods of time. Porsche doesn't have an official range estimate just yet, but the onboard display showed 21 miles of available EV range at the start of my test drive, and editor-in-chief Tim Stevens saw similar mileage from the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, which uses the same powertrain. All-electric motoring is available at speeds up to 83 mph, and the gasoline engine kicks on and shuts off seamlessly -- there's no harsh shuttering during this transition. Charging the battery takes about 6 hours from a 240-volt wall outlet.

The default E-Power drive mode will deplete the battery's power reserve before relying on the gas engine for motivation, and switching to Hybrid Auto allows the two power sources to work in harmony for the best possible efficiency. Official EPA fuel economy figures are still pending, but expect the E-Hybrid to offer a nice increase over the Cayenne Turbo's ratings of 15 miles per gallon city, 19 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined.

Sport and Sport Plus drive settings, meanwhile, keep the engine on boil all the time, and channel additional energy back to the battery. And don't forget, the Cayenne offers the Sport Response button in the middle of the drive mode wheel, which, after all this time, is still absolutely cool to use. Just push the button, and the engine and transmission work to deliver maximum power for 20 seconds -- and that, in the Turbo S E-Hybrid, is tremendous.

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Turned-up-to-eleven dynamics aside, the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid is a largely familiar experience. On the outside, 21-inch wheels with arch extensions are standard, as are carbon ceramic composite brakes gripped by Acid Green-painted calipers -- though customers can order them in yellow, if they wish. If you like the way the Cayenne Turbo looks, you'll have no complaints about the E-Hybrid version. I still can't get behind that mouth-breather grille -- the standard E-Hybrid's Cayenne S-inspired fascia is much nicer -- but the rest of the SUV is very handsome, with LED lighting up front and out back.

More Acid Green accents are found on the car's badges, and they carry inside to the gauge needles, as well. Like on other Cayennes, myriad colors are available for the leather trim, and I love the soft feeling of the optional Alcantara headliner. Space inside is ample for four adults -- or five in a pinch -- and while the Cayenne doesn't offer class-leading cargo volume, 55.6 cubic feet of space (with the rear seats folded) should make quick work of even the most expensive Costco runs. You can also get the Turbo S E-Hybrid in the Cayenne's new Coupe body style, if that's your thing.

As for onboard tech, the always-lovely Porsche Communication Management infotainment system handles multimedia duties, housed on a responsive 12.3-inch touchscreen. A Wi-Fi hotspot is standard, as is Apple CarPlay, but once again, Android Auto is a no-go. Hybrid-specific functions like monitoring charge schedules and the battery's status can be managed through the Porsche Connect smartphone app, too.

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Standard driver assistance tech is sadly limited to a backup camera and automatic emergency braking, but a number of features can be added. The Turbo S E-Hybrid can be equipped with Porsche's well-tuned InnoDrive suite, which incorporates full-speed adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist for hands-on highway help. Those features can be spec'd as individual options, if you wish, as can parking assist, night vision and blind-spot monitoring.

Basically, if you like what you see with the standard Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid but want a little (OK, a lot) more pep in your step, the Turbo S E-Hybrid is a pretty sweet proposition. It's not cheap, though: You're looking at $161,900 to start, which is a whopping $82,000 more than the standard E-Hybrid, or $37,300 more than the Cayenne Turbo. Granted, you get a lot more standard performance equipment, but for a lot more cash.

Still, the Turbo S E-Hybrid represents the absolute best of what Porsche packs into its third-generation Cayenne, and there isn't really an SUV this side of the $200,000 Lamborghini Urus that can match its performance. It's an incredibly compelling SUV with a powerful plug-in powertrain. But then again, so is the regular E-Hybrid.

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Editors' note: Travel costs related to this feature were covered by the manufacturer. This is common in the auto industry, as it's far more economical to ship journalists to cars than to ship cars to journalists. While Roadshow accepts multiday vehicle loans from manufacturers in order to provide scored editorial reviews, all scored vehicle reviews are completed on our turf and on our terms.

The judgments and opinions of Roadshow's editorial team are our own and we do not accept paid editorial content.

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