Porsche Cayenne Turbo versus Range Rover Sport SVR
Steeped in completely polarising heritage, there is perhaps no fairer meeting place for a battle than with these two SUVs. Just dont mention the war.
British off-roading specialist, Land Rover, has crafted a performance monster from the fashionable Range Rover Sport, a bitumen-belting SVR-badged flagship that flies in the face of its workhorse history.
And Porsche, the German brand responsible for building some of most svelte sports cars in existence, is now onto its third generation of mega-boosted Balmain bulldozer, having dominated the performance SUV segment for well over a decade with the Cayenne Turbo.
Despite coming from opposite ends of the automotive spectrum, Porsche, like Land Rover, is no stranger to the SUV segment, with the Cayenne SUV having just celebrated its 16th birthday.
The new-from-the-ground-up, third-generation Cayenne sparkles with some of the latest automotive technology such as LED headlights with four-point LED daytime running lights and dynamic matrix lighting that envelopes objects to prevent dazzling them at night.
The range-topping Turbo rides on the largest (21-inch) alloys of the range and features adaptive air suspension, a powered tailgate, panoramic sunroof, heated electric seats finished in leather upholstery, and high-definition displays connected to a 14-speaker Bose audio system.
Safety includes mild-AEB with pedestrian protection, front and rear parking sensors and a high-resolution 360-degree ‘bird’s-eye’ surround view camera. But you could buy a 911 Carrera for the price of a Cayenne Turbo.
From $239,400 plus on-road costs, it’s quite easy to nudge $300,000 with some options; $5990 for Palladium metallic paint, $7430 for 22-inch alloys, $10,990 for the SportDesign pack, $14,290 for ceramic brakes, $6390 for a sports exhaust... and on it goes.
The Rangie Sport SVR offers no reprieve either, priced an airline ticket cheaper at $238,200. But it’s no less equipped with 21-inch alloy wheels, air-sprung suspension and slimline pixel LED headlights. Inside, it matches the expected Range Rover opulence by including SVR-specific 16-way electric sports front seats finished in Windsor leather, two high-definition 10.0-inch infotainment displays, a 12.0-inch driver’s display cluster, 19-speaker Meridian surround sound system, and gesture-controlled sunroof and tailgate.
But the SVR is also just as quick to blow out on price when you start adding options such as the carbon-fibre trim and bonnet package ($14,690), a driver-assist system ($12,395) and many more bells and whistles.
Both come with a three-year warranty and roadside assistance, but the Porsche’s unlimited-kilometre coverage trump’s the SVR’s 100,000km limit.
As the equipment lists suggest, neither of these two are compromised for interior comfort and technology, but there are some key differences that elevate one over of the other.
The Cayenne benefits from its recent generational overhaul as the presentation and implementation of every part, panel and detail are wonderfully executed. The 12.3-inch screen that proudly sits in the middle of the cockpit is a beauty to behold. Indeed, it sets a benchmark for the expectation of how current and future cabin technology should be. For the money you pay, it doesn’t disappoint.
Balancing the tech-laden interior are a few heritage design cues, such as the small analogue dash clock above the main screen, the needle-point tachometer centred between two digital displays in the instrument cluster, and even the instrument fonts themselves. You know you’re driving a Porsche.
Rear-seat legroom is very good, with the centre console’s climate-control set-up mirroring the black touch-capacitive buttons found up front. And Cayenne’s boot – on paper – is an impressive 770 litres. However, this claim is a measurement to the roof rather than the luggage cover. In reality, the slightly raked tailgate nips into useable space, though there’s still plenty of luggage space regardless.
Equally, the Range Rover Sport SVR feels every bit as opulent as you’d expect from an upper-crust British product, but the red and black trim on our test car adds a strong performance flavour. The carbon-fibre trim panels turn all of that up to eleven, and with a more commanding, higher-set driving position than the Porsche, the SVR feels a little more like a brute in a well-tailored gentleman’s suit. The Cayenne Turbo, on the other hand, feels a bit more sophisticated.
The room in the Range Rover is slightly more expansive than inside its German rival, both across the second-row and in the boot. The seats themselves are also big and pillowy, enveloping occupants with a snug but comfortable fit.
And the technology inside is impressive, using a similar twin 10.0-inch display system as the latest Velar, where rotary dials integrate with display graphics, allowing nearly every aspect of the car to be accessed using the system. Because buttons are becoming so yesterday, the sunroof can be opened by waving a hand.
Despite following two different forced-induction routes, for two quite different personalities, both V8s end up hitting similar output figures.
The Rangie Sport SVR supercharges its 5.0-litre V8, turning up the wick to produce 423kW at 6500rpm and 700Nm of torque at 2500rpm, which is slightly higher than the Porsche on power but a little down on torquey grunt. The result at the bowser, according to the official government combined cycle, is that the slightly heavier SVR drinks a touch more 98-octane premium juice at 12.8L/100km. But never mind that because the sound the exhaust produces will shake fruit from the trees.
Lurching forward with ferocious energy, the Brit V8 growls and hisses as the supercharger winds up early on, splattering through rapid gear changes and howling to a screaming redline. It’s a rousing experience. With that said, you’d want to be prepared to spend more than average on fuel because stomping the throttle pedal is just so addictive, and so much fun.
The Porsche, while producing a hefty 770Nm from 1960-4500rpm and 404kW at 5750-6000rpm, piles on acceleration through its eight-speed automatic transmission with the exactitude of a successful moon landing. Its power is easier to finesse near the limit and it feels (and is) the quicker machine from a standstill (0-100km/h in 3.9sec) thanks to a short first-gear ratio, but it lacks the ferocity and bad-boy personality of the Rangie SVR. A lot of that comes down to the simple fact that the Cayenne Turbo’s soundtrack lacks the same rambunctiousness. Yet there’s no doubt it’s the sharper performance tool, juxtaposed with an extra-tall top gear ratio, and a lighter drinker at a claimed 11.7L/100km.
Winner: Range Rover
How they drive
Porsche’s latest dynamic tricks shine both on the road and on a racetrack, with 48-volt electrical architecture pumping up every aspect of the Cayenne Turbo’s electronic handling system. The adaptive dampers now react much faster than before, and active anti-roll bars front and rear are made stiffer or softer on the fly using an active swivel motor – lean on the outer wheels and the bars will push back, opening up a further pocket of grip you never believed was there.
Add to that Porsche’s learnings from its sports cars for throttle response, transmission calibration, traction control and differential actuation and the Cayenne Turbo is one of the most convincing ‘performance SUVs’ there is. This is a vehicle that will happily take a family to the racetrack, break a few club records, then comfortably drive the kids home before bedtime.
The SVR is also fun to drive but feels less planted when tackling a corner, preferring to lean on its wheels and slip out rather than push back and ask for more. You’d never guess just 100kg differentiates these two machines when driving them hard – the SVR feels much heavier – though its Range Rover Sport foundation was never designed to smash slaloms.
Approaching a corner also shows a difference in braking performance, with the Porsche pulling up quickly thanks to huge 415mm tungsten carbide brakes with 10-piston calipers. The SVR, while still confident, doesn’t feel as biting on it smaller 380mm rotors.
The Range Rover Sport does, however, have some good off-road chops, though you wouldn’t want to take $15K worth of carbon-fibre adornments near a hedge, let alone a bush track. And the Porsche is no duffer, having proved to Drive earlier this year that it’s more than capable of crossing the Simpson Desert. Further to that, the Cayenne Turbo is more hobby farm ready than the Rangie SVR, with a 500kg heavier 3.5-tonne towing capacity and 500mm wading depth.
It’s not too much of a surprise that the Porsche Cayenne Turbo is the better performance SUV, given its origins. After two-generations of getting its collective head around how to make a mega-fast SUV also a consummate all-rounder, the Stuttgart sports car brand’s core characteristics now translate into a larger format as best as physics allow.
The Range Rover Sport SVR, despite its stately background, is the more interesting in terms of personality, producing the best V8 soundtrack with a great big chunk of muscle-car flavour. But in the end, the Porsche’s brilliant interior, peerless technology, physics-defying dynamics and underlying performance come out on top.
2018 Porsche Cayenne Turbo pricing and specifications:
Price: $239,400 plus on-road costs
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol
Power: 404kW at 5750-6000rpm
Torque: 770Nm at 1960-4500rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Fuel use: 11.7L/100km
2018 Range Rover Sport SVR pricing and specifications
Price: $238,200 plus on-road costs
Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol
Power: 423kW at 6500rpm
Torque: 700Nm at 2500rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Fuel use: 12.8L/100km