CAYENNE AND ABLE PORSCHE CAYENNE REVIEW DATE: 04 Mar 2010
Porsche developed the second-generation Cayenne to mimic the success of the first. Steve Walker takes a look.
PORSCHE CAYENNE NEW CAR REVIEW The 911 is the definitive Porsche, a car routinely held up as a modern automotive icon. By contrast, the Cayenne luxury 4x4 is routinely viewed with some suspicion by diehard Porsche fans. Despite the mistrust of the enthusiasts, founded around the idea that opulent SUVs are not the cars that the famous German marque should be spending sportscar resources on, the Cayenne has been phenomenally successful. To a large extent, this somewhat portly Porsche generated the income to create the hardcore performance cars the purists idolise. The latest Cayenne must continue in its cash cow role at the top of an SUV market that's been under considerable pressure of late.
When it first went on sale in 2002, the Cayenne succeeded in making Porsche ownership a realistic option for a whole new group of buyers. Even existing 911 and Boxster owners could suddenly have their two Porsche garage with the Cayenne supplying the everyday practicality that they'd previously had to rely on other brands for. Its success, particularly in the American market, helped fuel Porsche's growth and today's second generation model has been developed to ensure none of the valuable market share is ceded.
Most of the Cayenne range has a familiar ring to it. We open with the standard Cayenne and its 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine. Even here, there's a good 300bhp and a 7.5s 0-60mph time. The Cayenne Diesel has a 240bhp 3.0-litre V6 and its mix of efficiency and muscular torque (550Nm at 2,000rpm) will ensure it continues to be a big seller. Above that is the 4.8-litre petrol V8 of the Cayenne S which has 400bhp and a 0-60mph sprint time under six seconds. The real firepower, however, comes from the mighty Cayenne Turbo which has a twin-turbocharged version of that V8, 500bhp and a 4.7s sprint which makes it faster than a 911 Carrera off the line. All of which only leaves the real headline-grabbing powertrain in the Cayenne S Hybrid.
"The inclusion of the hybrid model will help the Cayenne's public image"
Porsche's first hybrid car mates a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol engine to an electric motor. The two units then work in tandem or in isolation to give optimum performance and efficiency across the full range of driving scenarios. Together, the two units have 380bhp and 580Nm of torque from just 1,000rpm, giving rise to performance that's on a par with the V8 Cayenne S model, so this hybrid isn't just an exercise in tree-hugging.
The system is governed by all kinds of clever electronics which allow it to run on the electric motor alone at speeds of up to 40mph. There's also the 'Sailing Mode' which doesn't involve hoisting the mainbrace or shivering your timbers but does allow the combustion engine to be disengaged during high speed cruising to eliminate the drag effect and improve efficiency.
The styling of the Cayenne didn't hit the spot originally. The task of integrating traditional Porsche sportscar design cues onto a high-riding 4x4 body wasn't straightforward but this second generation model looks a successful blend of elegance and sportiness. The bonnet curls downward sharply to where the shapely intakes with their integrated fog lights create a more nuanced look than the flat aggression of the old car. There's a pronounced sporty edge to the car's profile thanks to the elongated nose and the steeply raked rear screen.
The cabin features a high centre console which splits the driver and front passenger to create the kind of cockpit effect you might expect in a Porsche sportscar. It raises the controls up within easy reach of the driver and the Cayenne follows the lead of the Panamera in that there's a huge array of controls to get a handle on.
This model is 48mm longer than the old Cayenne with 40mm of that contained within the wheelbase and Porsche has put it to good use. The boot can hold 670-litres and there's the possibility of upping that to 1,780 litres by fiddling with the rear seats. There's quite a bit of versatility built into the back of the car with those seats able to recline into three different positions and slide forward or back by 160mm. The boot area itself is accessed by a powered tailgate and a range of cargo management optional are available to hold items in place.
The entry-level Cayenne comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard but otherwise, it's the 8-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission all the way. All models get Porsche Traction Management all-wheel-drive while the Turbo model adds air-suspension with Porsche Active Suspension Management. Standard kit also includes leather trim, climate control, parking sensors, powered front seats, a 7" touch screen display system and 18" alloy wheels.
The pricing for the Cayenne puts it squarely up against the BMW X5 and the Mercedes ML-Class. The Volkswagen Touareg with which it shares a platform is a cheaper option and the Range Rover still costs rather more model for model.
The inclusion of the hybrid model will help the Cayenne's public image but it's by no means the only concession made to efficiency. The use of lightweight materials, particularly in the all-wheel-drive transmission, has cut the weight of the Cayenne compared to its predecessor despite today's car being larger. A Cayenne S is 180kg lighter than the car it replaced. The S Tronic gearbox is designed with a wider spread of ratios to reduce strain on the engine and Auto Start Stop is standard on all models.
The highlights in terms of efficiency are the Cayenne Diesel which returns 38mpg combined economy and 195g/km emissions and the Cayenne Hybrid with 34mpg and 193g/km. Predictably, the V8 models are rather less thrifty: the Turbo gets 24mpg and 270g/km, about the same as a 911 Turbo.
The Cayenne's task is looking tougher than it did in 2002. Porsche itself now has the Panamera offering an alternative kind of four-door practicality and in the UK, luxury 4x4s have taken something of grilling in the court of public opinion for their perceived environmental costs. Porsche's solution was to improve the car across the board. It claims to have built-in more agility, power, efficiency and quality, which might just do the trick.