BIG PORSCHE HOT TO GO
TOP-OF-THE CLASS CAYENNE IS A SPORTY PERFORMER
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.