2010 Porsche Cayenne Transsyberia first drive review

Hot sauce.

It’s what we add to bland fare to give it a bit more kick. The Cayenne, though, has never been bland. You might begrudge the brand’s huge success selling SUVs rather than sports cars, but if you’ve never driven a Cayenne you have no right to judge—these beasts are fast as hell when they come with V-8s, and handle impressively as well.

We’ve heard yet more cynicism about the new (this fall) 2011 Cayenne S Hybrid. A Porsche HYBRID! Scoff all you like, but the $67,700 SUV is rumored to get roughly 28 mpg city/highway fuel economy. And it will still be plenty quick, with an eight-speed, 333-horsepower supercharged V-6 (same motor as you’ll find in Audi’s S4) coupled with a 47-horsepower electric motor. And with the latter you’ll be able to cruise on electric power alone in stop-and-go driving, which is a hell of a lot better for the planet than the 12mpg Turbo in the present lineup.

And a Hybrid Cayenne will arguably save marriages—and do good things for the Porsche label, too. Think of the recently wedded Wall Street type who has to mothball his 911 or Boxster now that he has toddlers. His wife wants a “green” ride to shuttle the rug rats. He wants another Porsche. Enter the Hybrid Cayenne!

All that’s in the future, though. What if Mister Wall Street’s wife just had their second baby last month? The new family chariot cannot wait! Well, why not the Transsyberia?

More than a name

Trans-what? Yeah, the funny spelling aside, Porsche actually has raced a version of this crossover (albeit one with more tweaks than the “street” version), winning the 4,300-mile Transsyberia Rally in both 2006 and 2008 and besting Mercedes and mighty Land Rover.

Which means exactly squat if we’re just talking about commemorative orange paint. Luckily this $70,800 Porsche gets actual hardware—the 405 horsepower V-8 lifted from the Cayenne GTS instead of the stock, 385-horsepower mill in the Cayenne S.

Cayenne Transsyberia side

Cayenne Transsyberia side

Enlarge Photo

Important: We tested the version with lots of orange; so much that we restricted test-drives to night time (photos, too, were shot at night), when the cops were less readily curious. But you can get your Trans in much quieter livery, black with accents of silver or gray with silver accents.

Assuming you hew yours towards tamer hues know that beyond the GTS V-8 at a $1,600 discount, you’ll also be getting a Cayenne with a six-speed Tiptronic gearbox, an adjustable air suspension that lets you manually raise the chassis for snowy driving and drop it for unloading aforementioned kids (it auto drops for high-speed driving by the way), skid plates, and standard Alcantara-blanketed sport seats that are absolutely top notch for providing body-hugging support for sporty driving but genuine long-mile comfort as well.

As for the aforementioned V-8; it’s not green. Fuel economy of 13 city/18 highway is simply not planet-friendly. Then again, if you’re mothballing your GT3 with the fear you’ll be forced to cart around in a Sienna this muscle will put a grin back on your face; the pure acceleration (0-60 mph in a hair under six seconds for a 5,000 pound vehicle doesn’t suck) and ripping exhaust note are just plain thrilling. Al Gore would hate this beast.

You may want to wait, however

Some of the changes you see on the Transsyberia are cosmetic, from the orange gauges that reverse hue at night (see gallery photo), to the orange safety belts. Some changes are functional, like optional roof lights, locking rear diff, and more armor for the fuel tank and rear axle.

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