If you listen to the negative crowd, SUVs are marginally less evil than the devil himself. So a 4.8-litre twin turbo Porsche Cayenne should be the least caring car you can possibly buy without ordering a baby seal stoneguard and real fur seats. But then you drive one and see that not only is it not true, there are also some very good reasons why this car has turned into a solid gold hit. The Cayenne has been a sales sensation, especially in the American, Middle Eastern and Russian markets where big and imposing is beautiful. For a while the Cayenne propped up the 911 and its impact has helped Porsche flourish into a monumental profit maker that can afford to splash out on controlling stakes of VW and other such luxuries. And now the new one is here, and we were lucky enough to head to Spain to take the wheel of this outrageous 500bhp battle bus and make up our own mind on the this environment slaying monster. And while I went in there with an in-built prejudice against a would-be sportscar that weighs 2.35 tonnes, I came out open-mouthed with admiration. Not at the appearance, obviously, although the tweaks over the old model have made the new Cayenne a far more appealing sight. The sleeker front end has taken a good deal of the bulk from the head-on appearance without losing any of the menace as it homes in on the rear of anything blocking the fast lane. The LEDs look more at home here than on the front end of the Turbo, too. But the Cayenne still falls well short of beautiful. It's imposing, but then so is a shark, it's still not the kind of thing you'd want to come face to face with. The Audi Q7, BMW X5, Mercedes ML and Range Rover Sport are all more stylish on pure merit. But then this one has the Zuffenhausen badge, which is all it takes to sway the image conscious in some quarters. Looking beyond the façade, though, the new Cayenne Turbo is an almighty machine. It might weigh as much as my apartment, but it blows through 60mph in 5.8s and on to 171mph with the turbos creating a weather vortex all around the car and trying to suck in the world. The sheer accelerative force for one so big is monumental, it's ridiculous. With 516lb/ft of twisting power going to all four wheels it was never going to have a particularly hard time blasting through the steptronic box and, though there's a rocker switch on the wheel, you don't really need to play with it. Even more impressive than the explosive acceleration of this monster, though, is the cornering ability and Porsche were keen to demonstrate its skills with a slalom course at the test centre. Now the old Cayenne was good, but this is leagues better thanks to all-new technology - Porsche Dynamic Chassic Control, another acronym to add to Porsche's ever-growing list. It works with hydraulic chambers and pumps between the anti-rollbar and actually prevents any roll or pitch until you're generating 0.65g, which is more than anybody should really be trying for. At that point it will lurch over, just to let the driver know they're acting like a dumbass, but keep it within these sane bounds and the Cayenne will simply stay flat and true as it heads through bends at obscene speeds. It looks about as sensible as an elephant that's learned to ice skate, but then it lands the Triple Lutz and you just have to give it the props this technical achievement deserves. It stops, too, which is a relief. My concern with a 171mph tank is always what happens at the end, but with 380mm discs at the front and a solid set of Porsche stoppers honed on sportscars then it's more than capable. Going fast and feeling fast are two entirely different things, and obviously with that much suspension travel between the wheels on the road and the wheel in your hand then pretty much everything is lost in the translation. There's simply nothing to do beyond twisting the wheel and flattening either pedal depending on the immediate requirement. And that's kind of the point. With its high seating position, boardroom-style comfort and numerous toys, this is the ultimate fast lane transport. It's not really the compromise I was thinking about, it's not an SUV/sportscar crossover, they just don't exist, it's simply a monstrously powerful stats symbol and long distance transport of the very highest order. It's not an exciting drive, but then there are pluses, because it doesn't fidget and simply squashes imperfections, you'll find this car as quick as a GT3 or Ferrari on a broken back road - really. This car will crush mountain roads, motorways, mountain goats and Continents with pure contempt. Even heavy rain, which should have left the surface slippy and scary, simply didn't bother it, the Cayenne cut through everything in its path like a knife. It's so crushingly competent that if the German military is looking for alternative transport you'd hope they'd call on Zuffenhausen. Except for the fact that it's not the most capable four-wheel drive in the world. It comes with a low ratio box and additional ground clearance at the touch of a button, but then the tyres will struggle to handle 170mph and serious mud-plugging. Porsche is good, but even it has limits. But then the one downside we're all kind of waiting for, fuel consumption, really isn't quite as bad as you might think. We simply assume that a car like this is designed to burn its own parking space in the Ozone layer, and it's never going to match the Toyota Prius, but then it will return 18.9mpg on the combined cycle and that isn't so bad. Porsche has worked hard on reducing fuel consumption throughout the Cayenne range with Direct Injection and increased capacity engines that don't have to work as hard, and there are plenty of cars that are worse than that. Even the BMW M5 isn't as kind at the pump, so with a hard marketing job the German marque could even save the SUV. Of course drive everywhere in a hurry and you'll never see that kind of frugality the whole time you own the car, but that's true in many cases and maybe this car proves that the SUV is not so bad after all. The Cayenne Turbo won't win any environmental awards any time soon it's not the worst offender out there. And for anyone willing to look past that thorny and bias-fuelled debate for a moment, there's an almighty good car on the Porsche forecourt. I'd never have considered one before, now it's in the fantasy garage, if only for the times when I need first class, long distance transport.

Gallery: WCF Test Drive: Porsche Cayenne Turbo

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