Porsche loves records, and why shouldn’t it? The German automaker’s cars are very good at setting them. But things may have gotten a bit out of hand this time. Porsche was so eager to set a lap record at Sweden’s Gotland Ring with its new Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid that it didn’t wait until the track was finished.
The Cayenne’s lap “record” of the uncompleted track probably wasn’t meant to be taken 100-percent seriously. It was done during a film shoot, using a manual stopwatch and a car wearing used road tires. The 3.2-kilometer (1.9-mile) northern section of the track was paved, but the 4.2-km (2.6-mile) southern section was only gravel, according to Porsche. German television host and racing driver Tim Schrick was at the wheel. His 3:51 lap was likely the first official time at the Gotland Ring, but times will start falling once the rest of the track is paved.
The lap was primarily a demonstration of the Cayenne’s ability to transition from on-road to off-road driving. The Turbo S E-Hybrid has a plug-in hybrid powertrain, consisting of a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 and eight-speed automatic transmission, with an electric motor sandwiched in between. This setup produces 670 horsepower and 663 pound-feet of torque. As we found out on our recent first drive, that makes this SUV a rocket ship on the road. Unlike a 911, the Cayenne also has enough ground clearance to keep going when the pavement ends.
Top Gear did something similar a few years ago, pitting a Skoda Yeti (a small crossover from Volkswagen’s Czech brand) against a Ferrari 308 at England’s Donington Park while the track was undergoing maintenance, to keep the fight fair. It doesn’t hurt Porsche to imply the limitations of a purebred sports car, as SUVs make up the majority of the automaker’s sales these days.
Porsche isn’t the only automaker to try an unusual stunt in order to show off its latest high-performance SUV. Land Rover has run a Range Rover Sport up one of the world’s most challenging roads, and down a ski slope. As with more conventional performance cars, Nürburgring lap times are the gold standard for the fastest SUVs. The previous-generation Porsche Cayenne Turbo S held the SUV lap record at the Nürburgring, but was eventually dethroned by the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, which in turn was beaten by the Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S. Porsche hasn’t taken the latest Cayenne to the Nürburgring yet, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see it there soon.
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