Why All the Hyper-SUVs?
Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to cars, I’m all about performance. Not just speed, but proper performance for the type of car. I want my trucks to haul and tow. I want my SUVs to plow through the snow. I want my super cars to corner, accelerate, brake. A car needs a proper balance of traits to suit its tasks, especially a daily driver. A strait line quarter-mile muscle car or an all-out bad-ass off-roader are a lot of fun, but there is a time and a place. Every car needs a logical purpose. Without a clear purpose, what’s the use of that car?
This brings me to my point. An SUV is meant to be a relatively capable vehicle off-road with decent ground clearance and low-end toque that can carry four or more adults and all of their stuff. It’s the car you want in bad weather, trudging through the snow or taking the family on a road trip. Like a Range Rover.
A super car is meant to be fast, nimble, and, when it comes to cargo and an occupancy of more than two, remarkably impractical. Its entire reason for being is speed and handling. Like a McLaren MP4-12C.
These two types of automobiles seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum, completely and diametrically opposed to each other. SO WHY DO CAR MAKERS CONTINUE TO INSIST ON TRYING TO F– USE THE TWO?!? It started with the Cayenne Turbo, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT 8 and the BMW X5 M. Now there’s the Lamborghini Urus, the Eterniti Artemis.
Let’s take for the Porsche Cayenne Turbo. It’s supposed to be the best of both the SUV and super car worlds. It shares a large number of components with the infinitely capable Volkswagen Touareg. Let’s run down its SUV qualifications, shall we:
1. Occupancy of more than two adults:
Check. While there isn’t a huge amount of room in the back, it seats five relatively easily.
2. Decent Cargo Capacity:
Check. With the rear seats up, the Cayenne happily holds several suitcases, coolers and the ubiquitous set of golf clubs.
3. Ground Clearance:
Check. The Cayenne Turbo comes with an Adjustable Ride Height system which goes from loading height to felled-tree-crossing high.
4. Four Wheel Drive:
Sort of Check. They Cayenne has all-wheel drive, which means no low range and no granny gear. If you end up in the boggy stuff, you have to rely on the car’s computer to electronically lock the rear differential. I would prefer a true 4×4 with low range.
5. Poor Weather, Snow and Off-Road Capability:
Not Really. The Cayenne Turbo comes with low profile high performance summer tires on 19″, 20″ or 21″ wheels. Any snow will send these tires skidding for the wall. Off-road, with the low profile tires on huge rims, your kidneys would have rattled out of your body after the first jarring mile. Not to mention the lack of tread depth would render getting out of a muddy bit quite complicated.
OK, now the super car qualifications:
1. Acceleration and Top Speed:
Check: At 4.4 seconds 0-60 and a top speed of 172 mph, the Cayenne Turbo is no slouch.
Check: 60 mph to 0 in 108 feet. Yeah, 108 feet. That’s damn good for any car.
Not So Much: Slalom: 67 mph. Skidpad: 0.94 g Not bad for an SUV, but not a super car.
Compared to a Nissan GT-R: Slalom: 75.4 mph. Skidpad: 1.05 g
OK, so here’s the deal. Hyper-SUVs like the Cayenne Turbo are capable at some of the SUV jobs and are certainly fast in a straight line. But, and it’s a big but, they fail at the most important requirements for a real SUV and a true super car. In the mud or snow, you’re pretty much stuck. On the track, you’d have your ass handed to you by any true sports car, let along super car. So, where does this leave the Cayenne Turbo, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT 8, BMW X5 M, Lamborghini Urus and Eterniti Artemis?
Well, they’re good at a few things: driving through the city, sucking gas by the barrel and driving quickly on the freeway because your kid is late for soccer practice. If you want an urban family hot rod, do the smart thing. Get an Audi S6 Avant, a Cadillac CTS-V Wagon or a BMW M5 Wagon. They handle better, look better, drive better and are just more fun. If you want an SUV, get a Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo, a VW Touareg or a Range Rover. And, if you want a super car there are plenty to choose from. Hell, you can even get a super car for around $70k in the form of the Corvette Z06. Leave the fusion to the restaurants.