In his book The Art of War, Sun Tzu famously wrote, “The best laid plans may not survive first contact with the enemy.” Former Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking was lucky; just about every plan he formulated resulted in glorious victory. Right up until he tried to take over the VW empire.
Wiedeking would probably have succeeded had the global financial crisis not thrown a massive spanner in the works, drastically diluting the income from new car sales, the vital ammunition for his growing armory of VW shares. In mature markets like the U.S., and growing markets like Russia and China, sales of even the versatile Cayenne tumbled, leveling Porsche’s cash mountain just at the critical moment. In this case, VW Advisory Board Chairman, Ferdinand Piech, was the lucky one, and the tables were turned. Timing is indeed everything.
Love it or hate it, the first-generation Cayenne was instrumental in Porsche’s ongoing financial success, producing steamroller profitability during the Wiedeking years. Less obvious to industry outsiders was the fact that the Cayenne was also the engine of significant growth for the aftermarket tuning industry, allowing hitherto unimaginable profitability for companies like Gemballa and TechArt.
These two kings of the German Porsche tuning industry were best positioned to capitalize on the worldwide sales potential of the Cayenne, and their success with personalized Cayennes mirrored that of the basic car. It was thus no surprise that their most highly tuned and individualized versions were delivered with an invoice value roughly double that of a highly optioned Cayenne Turbo.
When all was said and done, TechArt had sold more than 900 Cayenne-based Magnums. Today, as the world continues to shakily dig itself out of the miasma created by bankers and politicians, buyers have embraced the second-generation Cayenne, whose better quality, lower weight and greater efficiency conspire to make it a significantly better car.
The new TechArt Magnum was first unveiled at Geneva this year. Two months later, I’m able to get behind the wheel of the very first customer car, barely days before it is delivered to its Russian owner.
Sitting on the tarmac, the white Magnum tries to outstare you, and there’s no doubt that you will blink first. From its larger front grilles to the extended wheel arches, filled to bursting by 22-inch five-spoke alloys, the Magnum conveys a take-no-prisoners image of purpose backed by sheer muscle. Extra visual malice is thrown in for good measure by the bulged and side-vented black carbon-fiber hood, which also removes a few pounds from a critical area.
The bigger main grille, flanked by two smaller ones with LED running lights, are further supplemented by three underbumper intakes. Collectively, this array allows the flow of as much cooling air as any boosted engine could possibly consume.
Together with headlamp trim rings that emphasize its “eyes,” the resulting visage is far from friendly, and the very sight of this open-mouthed monster closing rapidly in your rearview mirror delivers a top score for autobahn overtaking presence. One glance at this sinister looking apparition, and you think you’ll be either Hoovered up or run over.
The new front and rear bumper sections, wider arches, side skirts and tailgate spoiler are all molded from carbon composites. Other than the wide arch extensions, which are bonded to the steel bodywork, all the new components are attached using factory mounting points.
Both customers and press alike have criticized the lozenge-like taillights of the new Cayenne, which give it a rather nondescript look from the rear. The stepped edges of TechArt’s body-colored tailgate spoiler do double duty in changing the shape of the lamps to something with a more clearly defined edge to it.
The final body styling additions are the black carbon rear underbody diffuser, flanked by the four polished stainless steel exhaust outlets, and the carbon rooftop spoiler, which can either be color-coded to the bodywork or left au naturel, as on this car.
In a world of predictably boring matte-gray and black tuner test cars with black interiors, I’m relieved that this car is white to better show off the bodywork. And while the two-tone blue and white leather interior is down to personal taste, there’s no doubt that it’s enticing to the camera lens.
Just as major car manufacturers have begun to offer black carbon-fiber trim in their cars, the days of black carbon trim inserts in high-end tuner cars appear to be numbered. Customers who want heavily personalized cars are bored to death with black carbon, and we’re seeing more and more colored carbon fiber being used for interior trim and engine covers.
The Magnum’s owner wanted blue carbon trim to match the blue leather, and this color-coding works very well in practice. The blue carbon also appears on the top of the flat-bottomed steering wheel, center console, gearknob, and the dashboard and door trim strips.
The small, chromed trim rings that Porsche include as a design feature to disguise the meeting places between the door and center console grab handles and the surrounding leatherwork articulate the visual and textural contrast with the similarly colored carbon fiber. Another neat detail from TechArt’s trim shop craftsmen is the contrasting blue stitching on the white leather, and the white stitching on the blue leather.
Whatever you think of the color scheme, there’s no question that as craftsmanship goes, TechArt is one of the very best in the industry. Here, even the smallest leather and carbon details pass close scrutiny with flying colors.
If you’ve wondered why TechArt’s Cayenne and Panamera conversions have been pegged at 580 hp, when the first-generation Magnum was billed as a 700-hp car, the answer is simple. As with all the other aftermarket tuners, it has taken TechArt’s electronics experts nearly two years to crack the multi-layered encryption of the new Siemens ECU used on these cars. Once the electronic bypass has been established, the engineers will be able to swap out the two turbochargers for larger ones, along with the higher-flow injectors and other hardware required to match the 700-hp output of the first-generation Cayenne engine conversion. Only then can the painstaking process of remapping ignition and fueling take place, and durability testing begin.
For now, power-hungry customers will have to be content with the 580-hp output from the TechArt ECU and exhaust upgrade. As with the similar Panamera motor, this uses a bespoke unit piggybacked onto the wiring loom to intercept and modify data between the engine and factory ECU.
Thus modified, the power curve rises at an angle closer to the ideal 45 degrees, peaking with 580 hp at 5500 rpm. Incidentally, 95 percent of that enhanced output is present from 5000 to 6000 rpm, giving it very strong top end thrust. Peak torque is a mighty 612 lb-ft, with 590 lb-ft of torque on a plateau from 3250 rpm all the way to 5000 rpm. The extra shove in the back is clear and present in every situation where you need it. Overtaking is swifter and surer on country roads, and the charge to higher speeds when you join the autobahn from a slip road is perceptibly stronger.
Having experienced this tangible lift in performance granted by the extra 80 hp and 96 lb-ft, few owners will wish for more. But for those who do, the 700-hp conversion should be up and running by year’s end.
The big brake conversion helps to counter the high velocities reached, while the sheer mechanical grip of the large, low-profile rubber helps this big and heavy car to defy the laws of physics in a way that most people will find truly eye-opening.
In the air suspension’s Sport mode especially, the Magnum’s cornering ability is quite remarkable. The car’s 4,800-pound mass requires the time-honored slow-in, fast-out approach, but once you’re on the apex and the way is clear, the performance-biased four-wheel-drive system allows you to fire the Magnum out of a bend with its twin-turbo V8 howling like a banshee and real lateral g-forces abating as you wind off steering lock at the exit.
The only dynamic aspect to suffer from the big wheels is the ride. Despite the vastly better comfort offered by the latest air suspension, the 22-inch wheels still carry nearly as much unsprung weight as the factory 20-inchers, and the stiffer sidewalls of the low-profile rubber don’t help. In Comfort mode the ride is fine, but you should stay away from Sport on anything but billiard table-smooth roads unless you have a good massage therapist on call.
The second-generation Cayenne Turbo is a huge step forward from the original in almost every way. The TechArt Magnum builds on the strengths of Porsche’s most versatile model, giving an owner the chance to create a truly individual SUV with attention grabbing looks and supercar beating performance.
Love it or hate it, the first-generation Cayenne was instrumental in Porsche’s financial success, producing steamroller profitability.
TechArt Magnum 2
4.8-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve, twin-turbocharged. TeachArt ECU, sport exhaust
Wheels and Tires
TechArt five-spoke alloys, 10.5x22
Peak Power: 580 hp @ 5500 rpm
Peak Torque: 612 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm
0-60 mph: 4.2 sec. (est.)
Top Speed: 175 mph