Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Driveway - Bill Buys

MEN­TION Porsche and most peo­ple im­me­di­ately think of a 911, or per­haps a Boxster.

But the big­gest seller by far in the Ger­man brand's line-up is the Cayenne.

About twice as tall and heavy as a 911, the se­ri­ously big Cayenne has been a hit for Porsche since it first ap­peared in 2003.

But de­spite its bulk, it's about as sporty as an SUV can be and ca­pa­ble of show­ing its big quad tailpipes to nearly ev­ery­thing else on the road.

The latest model has had a sub­tle face and butt lift, but in the case of the Cayenne S be­ing re­viewed, it also gets more equip­ment and a new, smaller, lighter and more ef­fi­cient en­gine.

The ex­tra gear in­cludes 20-inch al­loys, a full-length elec­tric sun­roof, Porsche's dy­namic light sys­tem and heated front seats.

It now has a 3.6-litre twin-turbo V6 un­der the bon­net, re­plac­ing the ear­lier 4.8-litre V8. Ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy have made the V6 a lot more ef­fi­cient than the V8, sav­ing about 35 per cent on fuel while at 309kW/ 550Nm, whack­ing out more power and torque.

Power goes to all four wheels via an eight-speed tip­tronic auto trans­mis­sion with quick up and down­shifts and near-in­stant throt­tle re­sponse.

The in­te­rior is also some­thing spe­cial; its dash and multi­but­toned cen­tre stack draw­ing gasps from first-time look­ers.

There's more than a hint of the ve­hi­cle's sporty DNA on the cen­tre stack too, with grab han­dles wellplaced for ner­vous front seat pas­sen­gers to deal with any G-forces that may even­tu­ate.

The beau­ti­fully fin­ished and bol­stered front seats are nicely sup­port­ive, there's ad­e­quate legroom in the back and the cargo area is pos­i­tively huge at 1780litres.

Also, the tailgate can be opened from the key­pad.

The driver gets a lovely leather­bound, multi-func­tion steer­ing wheel, com­pre­hen­sive in­stru­men­ta­tion, the oblig­a­tory in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, al­most ev­ery safety de­vice known to mankind, pow­ered front seats, dual cli­mate con­trol, pad­dleshift, mag­nif­i­cent light­ing and ev­ery­thing else one might ex­pect from a ve­hi­cle priced from $141,900 – “from” be­ing the op­er­a­tive word: de­spite the ex­ten­sive list of stan­dard items, there are still lots of op­tions.

Drive­away price, once the gov­ern­ment has taken its slice, is a hand­ful of change from $160,000.

Or you could go for a diesel Cayenne at $104,700, and S Diesel at $143,200, an S E-Hy­brid ($139,200) or the top­dog Turbo, for $230,800. But the S is a honey, easy to drive and park – it has light steer­ing, re­vers­ing cam­era, and sen­sors front and rear – and it's one of those rare joy-to-drive ma­chines at any speed.

The body height can be low­ered for sporty oc­ca­sions, raised for dirt roads, and there are modes for com­fort, sport and sport-plus so you can set it up for what­ever oc­ca­sion.

It's happy to scam­per along subur­bia, but it has se­ri­ous per­for­mance avail­able un­der­foot, like a squirt to 100km/h in 5.5 sec­onds, a top speed of 260km/h, and it uses an av­er­age of only 9.8litres/ 100km.

Ver­dict: An en­gi­neer­ing mas­ter­piece, true to its credo of be­ing en­thu­si­ast-driven.

The Cayenne S: a mas­ter­piece of en­gi­neer­ing.

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