We Raced Our 2012 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Against The Tesla Model X…And Broke The Porsche

That didn't exactly go as planned.

When we bought this used 2012 Porsche Cayenne Turbo back in October, it was a performance bargain at just $22,000. Consider the fact that its twin-turbocharged 4.8-liter V8 chucks out 500 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque — respectable figures even seven years on — and you know you have a seriously fun performance SUV on your hands. To find out just how fast and fun it can be, we thought it was a good idea to take it to the IMI Motorsports track in Dacono, Colorado for a hot lap. We put Paul, TFL’s professional racing driver, in the Porsche and compared it to another quick SUV, our new Tesla Model X.

On the surface, all seems well here. Both have a bucket of horsepower and torque, and can hit 60 mph in a quoted 4.4 seconds. As we’ve shown previously, the Tesla Model X is a bit slower than Tesla advertised, even after following viewer suggestions to make it faster, but it’s within a reasonable margin. Still, 4.6-ish seconds to 60 mph for a big, heavy electric SUV (that’s not the Performance model, remember) is still hugely impressive. It’s not really built for a track day, but naturally more as a family hauler, so its heft and all-season tires may hold it back a bit on the track.

As for the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, it’s supposed to be a true performance machine, despite its SUV-ness. This generation Cayenne is actually about 500 pounds lighter than the first-generation model, which is notable given just how heavy the original Cayenne Turbo was (nearly 5,200 pounds). It’s only Achille’s heel — quite literally — is the set of tires the previous owner fitted. We’re talking about a $130,000 SUV, and it has “Achilles” tires, a low-budget tire made in Indonesia which you can buy for a bit over $200. And that’s not for just one tire, but for a whole set.

We Raced Our 2012 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Against The Tesla Model X...And Broke The Porsche
One of these cars didn’t come out of this test unscathed.

The tires aren’t what broke…

With Paul pushing the Porsche Cayenne Turbo on the track, you’d think the tires what would most likely let go, right? Despite their poor performance, another issue actually sprang up during the hot lap. After nearly completing the run, smoke started spewing from the Porsche, which we thought could have been some sort of engine failure.

Upon closer inspection, it turns out fluid from the Porsche Chassis Control (PCC) system, an active anti-roll system that works to keep the car flat during cornering, spewed out over the hot exhaust. So, that $22,000 performance bargain may get a bit more expensive before everything’s said and done.

The lap times

Despite the mechanical issue, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo threw down a 1:07.75 lap time. That’s one second off the 2019 Tesla Model X, which Paul managed to see around the track in 1:06.68.

Granted, the Tesla costs $60,000 more (just over $86,000) than we paid for the Porsche, but its electric drivetrain, and the fact that it didn’t experience a mechanical failure, earned it a victory in the hot lap. That said, neither SUV is really that hot, in Paul’s opinion. The Porsche should be, but its issues held it back from really being a “hot” choice. While the Model X is certainly faster, it’s not really the sort of car you should take to the track in the first place. That’s probably why Tesla ran a Model S around the Nurburgring instead…just a hunch.