More than just a pretty face lift
Porsche's halo performance models: the 911, Cayman, Boxster and the hyper-quick 918 hybrid, are all supported and improved through the rivers of cash from the Porsche SUV range, kicked off by the Cayenne in 2002 and boosted by the wildly successful Macan earlier last year.
The appetite for SUVs continues to surprise car builders across the globe and, already, 70 per cent of all Porsche volume is in the SUV sector, albeit at the quick end of that spectrum.
Five new Cayenne models have just been released and I drove three of them this week inland from Byron Bay.
My favourite was the Cayenne Diesel S, a five-seat SUV with a 4.2-litre V8 with twin VG turbos and dual intercoolers delivering 283kW and a ground-shaking 850Nm of torque at just 2000rpm.
To put that in perspective, it has more torque than a popular Japanese 16-tonne truck, which is why, when you flatten the right foot coming out of a corner the nose lifts skywards, the neck muscles cramp with strain and Cayenne explodes forwards at a very un-SUV rate. Expect to find the shopping and designer dog blended together and splattered over the tailgate if you pull that stunt on the way home from the gourmet deli.
But the Cayenne assets are a lot more than more power, faster acceleration and less fuel. They’re outcomes of a ground-up engineering review that has brought, among other things, additional finesse to a chassis that was already finely balanced.
Porsche product manager Paul Watson called it a face lift with substance and I think that’s severely understated.
There are two diesels, two petrols and a plug-in hybrid in the new range. The most restrained — and cheapest — is the 3-litre V6 diesel with 193kW. The aforementioned V8 diesel monster has 47 per cent more urge on tap. The 3.6-litre bi-turbo petrol S has 309kW and Cayenne Turbo tops the tree with a scintillating 4.8-litre V8 bi-turbo with 382kW.
The E-Hybrid will arrive sometime this month and uses a 3-litre V6 teamed to a synchronous electric motor for a combined output of 306kW. The petrol engine has a supercharger rather than a turbo to ensure continuous boost.
Perhaps the best illustration of how Porsche is dealing with the wave of change demanded by European regulations is the Petrol S, which has gone from a 4.8-litre V8 to a 3.6-litre V6. But it’s up 15kW and 50Nm on the previous engine while using less fuel. The engine is 57mm shorter and 17kg lighter, and with that reduced weight set further back in the chassis, the springs and shocks have been recalibrated. The suspension mounting points were actually changed to the GTS spec.
For all Cayenne models the thermodynamics were reviewed to warm up the engine and gearbox faster, reducing viscosity and saving further fuel.
The previous S diesel was only 2kW down on power and had the same torque, but the new one’s faster in acceleration and top speed because of weight saving technology and a Tiptronic transmission with some of the software goodies from the PDK dual clutch box.
All models have the Performance Start mode. I tried it in the range-topping $230,800 382kW Turbo. Engage Sport Plus modes, apply full brake, then full throttle. The engine spools up, the torque multiplier goes bonkers and the lock-up clutch turns aggressive. Then let go of the brake — I still have the Porsche logo from the headrest imprinted on my bald spot.
The interior is pure indulgence for those who like to be reminded that they are one of 1200 Cayenne buyers last year. The quality is outstanding and though it’s very comfortable, it retains enough purpose to remind you that you’re on board to drive, not just get there. Far too many switches though — the wiring loom must be a nightmare.
Cayenne also has a secondary collision avoidance system, which triggers a whole process if the airbags pop their corks. If the foot brake is released after the prang but before the car comes to a complete stop, the system keeps the brakes applied.
In summary, I think the new Cayenne is good enough for you to trade in your current version, no matter how young it is. There’s just too much improvement to ignore, and all that on a car that was already condemning its competition into playing constant catch-up.
(MODEL, LIST PRICE, ENGINE POWER, TORQUE, 0-100KMH, TOP SPEED, FUEL AND CO2).
Cayenne Diesel ($104,700)
7.3 secs and
Cayenne S Diesel ($143,200)
5.4 secs and
Cayenne S ($139,900)
5.5 secs and
Cayenne Turbo ($230,800)
4.5 secs and
Cayenne S E-Hybrid ($139,200)
V6, electric motor
5.9 secs and
Image: Via www.porsche.com
© The West Australian
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