The gag used to go that the SUV craze, which arguably dates to when Ford introduced the first Explorer in 1990, would run its full course and somehow disappear if Porsche ever joined the fray. We all know how that played out. The Porsche Cayenne, built in Slovakia, is now into its third generation and with more than 1 million sold, is among the most commercially successful products in Porsche history – unlike a 911, and just about everything else Stuttgart has ever built, it’s got plenty of room for your whatevers – and helped to establish the conceptual validity of megabuck SUVs from later practitioners ranging all the way up to Rolls-Royce. So stop laughing already. If you need a little more convincing that the Cayenne’s indeed for real, read on.
In a moderately massage rekordwagen based on the production Cayenne Turbo Coupe, Porsche factory test driver Lars Kern whipped around one of the world’s most demanding and historic racing circuits at a benchmark time. Kern took the Cayenne to a certified record lap around the Nurburgring for SUVs, vans and pickups. Around the 14.173 mile North Loop, or Nordschliefe, which incorporates more than 170 distinct corners and some 1,000 feet of elevation changes through the Eiffel Mountains of Germany, Kern hustled the Cayenne to a hot lap of 7:38.925, the SUV outfitted with a racing seat, roll cage and shod with Pirelli P-Zero Corsa performance rubber. This is strong stuff, very impressive for a vehicle that rides on a platform it shares with Volkswagen passenger cars. By the way, if you click on the link for the ‘Ring, you can learn how you, too, can fly to Europe, pay a toll, and get to play Fangio or Stewart on this hallowed blacktop, dating back nearly a century, for yourself. All it takes is money and considerable fortitude.