Mirror MOTORING: CAYENNE PEP UP; Porsche's 4x4 is sleek - but at 9MPG it's a pig at the pumps.
I CAN breathe a sigh of relief - the unspeakably hideous Porsche Cayenne has had a Hollywood-style facelift and is now a thing of beauty.
Obviously most of us are not in a position to splurge enough money for 10 hatchbacks on one 4x4 with a Porsche badge, but we should be grateful nonetheless.
The last one was sufficiently ghastly to ruin the day of anyone unlucky enough to encounter it. Just a quick glimpse of it looming large in the rear-view mirror could put you off your lunch.
Now, like a bogeyman chased out of a childhood wardrobe, the monstrous old Cayenne has been removed. The new one, in contrast, is pretty sleek. That is, of course, rather like complimenting Godzilla on a new hairdo - it's only an improvement on something that was beyond terrible.
In fact, the Cayenne is now a genuinely good-looking car. The striking headlamps establish its Porsche origins and the subtle curves hint not only at the car's performance potential, but also at its familial relationship with the ever-wonderful 911.
I'm not so sure it's done a favour for the few folk with EUR110,000 to blow on a 4x4, though.
There's no doubt about performance - the 500bhp, 4.8-litre engine can get the beast charging to 62mph in 5.1 seconds and won't give up until it hits 171mph. You might imagine that encountering a corner of any sort in such a massive, off-road styled car might result in a rather too close look at a hedge. But no, the car's clever air suspension and Porsche Active Stability Management help it cope with the power and acceleration in a way that will dent the pride of many a purebred sports-car driver.
The portliest Porsche can approach the limits of grip and adhesion that the huge 255/55 tyres can manage with vigour; achieving g-forces in turns that would, in pretty much any other 4x4, result in an awkward chat with the insurance company.
But there is a price to pay for this performance - at the petrol pumps. I struggled to keep its consumption better than 13mpg and it has been seen as low as 9mpg.
Whether you believe car emissions are hurting the planet or blame it all on polluting factories, the one thing on which everyone seems agreed is that fossil fuels are in finite supply. There is only so much oil and it will run out one day. That day is likely to get an awful lot closer if more than two or three people charge around in Porsche Cayenne Turbos.
Of course, you'd have to be pretty minted to spend such a lot on a 4x4 that is never likely to be used off-road, so high petrol costs might not trouble you. But most people with the sort of wedge needed to buy a car like this are pretty careful about how they spend their millions.
This is a modern, sophisticated, luxury car. My 40-year-old Ford Mustang returns more to the gallon with its ageing, 7-litre V8. That doesn't seem right.
If the petrol was being used to squeeze astonishing speed from a fullblooded sports car, it might be excusable. But this isn't a sports car. It's a luxury 4x4. The problem is that Porsche has dedicated a lot of time, expertise and money to making a car go fast when it really doesn't want to. You could, given limitless time and money, make your house go fast. But wouldn't it be easier to buy a sports car?
Maybe this is a last-gasp piece of excess, the motoring equivalent of the final days of Rome.
Perhaps we will be the last generation to be sold such thirsty and puzzling pieces of automotive gluttony.
For the rest of us, it's rather like turning up in the pub with all your mates to discover that one 40-stone bloke has drunk nearly all the beer and there are only two pints left to go around.
PORSCHE CAYENNE RIVALS
The 350bhp 4.8-litre is usually man enough. But not against Porsche's 500bhp monster.
RANGE ROVER VOGUE
This 400bhp model is nearly as potty as the Porsche - and as thirsty.
With 503bhp this is faster than it's green. Good on road and off.
CAYENNE TECH SPEC
MODEL DRIVEN: Cayenne Turbo
ENGINE: 4.8-litre 8-cylinder, 500bhp
PRICE: Contact you nearest dealer for prices
0-60MP/H 5.1 seconds
STYLISH: The interior