Third-gen cash cow shows the op­po­si­tion a clean set of hooves

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - ASH WESTER­MAN

BACK in 2002, a new global sport was born. It was called kickin’ the Cayenne, and it seemed every­one wanted a turn to sink the slip­per. Porsche purists scoffed at its high-rid­ing hideous­ness and abra­sive ride; oth­ers were out­raged that this iconic Ger­man sports car spe­cial­ist would suc­cumb to the lure of filthy lu­cre in the sports util­ity seg­ment.

Well, as we ac­knowl­edge the de­but of the all-new, third­gen­er­a­tion model, to­tal sales for the name­plate are now well past 750,000. So it’s fairly clear who’s hav­ing the last laugh. But just as im­por­tantly, we can’t think of another large premium SUV that can chal­lenge the new Cayenne for dy­namic abil­ity and driver in­volve­ment.

The modular architecture on which it’s built is the VW Group’s MLB Evo plat­form (shared with Audi Q7, Bent­ley Ben­tayga, Lambo Urus) although Porsche is quick to point out how much of the key chas­sis hard­ware – up­rights, hubs, car­ri­ers, brakes and more – are spe­cific to the Cayenne.

There’s also been a sig­nif­i­cant change to struc­tural ma­te­ri­als and the con­struc­tion method com­pared with the out­go­ing car. Greater use of alu­minium means the bodyshell is now var­i­ously screwed, bonded and stitched, rather than purely welded, bring­ing in­creased rigid­ity while cut­ting weight by around 65kg, spec-for-spec.

Ini­tially, at least, buy­ers can order a Cayenne in one of three strengths that ba­si­cally amount to swift, ul­tra-rapid or prop­erly nuts. The en­gine line-up (all run­ning an eight-speed torque-con­verter auto) ef­fec­tively mim­ics that of a trio of Panam­era vari­ants.

The en­try model (sim­ply called Cayenne) runs a 3.0-litre, sin­gle­turbo petrol V6 mak­ing 250kw and 450Nm. It’s priced at $116,000 and de­liv­ers per­for­mance that will surely be deemed ‘more than am­ple’ for plenty of cus­tomers. Porsche claims 0-100km/h in 6.2sec, and it al­ways feels lively and re­spon­sive to the throt­tle. Yes, it’s a bit light-on for char­ac­ter, but there’s noth­ing wrong with its will­ing­ness to punch through the mid-range and re­main un­stressed when work­ing hard up around 6000rpm.

It’s worth not­ing that this vari­ant comes stan­dard with steel springs for its adap­tive dampers, and the ride (re­gard­less of the dy­namic mode se­lected) is never as com­posed as that of the up­per two mod­els that run air springs. For­tu­nately, this air-sprung set-up is on the long list of op­tions avail­able for the base Cayenne.

Above it sits the Cayenne S, pow­ered by the Panam­era 4S’s 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6, de­liv­er­ing an iden­ti­cal 324kw and 550Nm. The price jumps sig­nif­i­cantly (to $155,100, up nearly $39K over the base car) but so does per­for­mance, while a meaner, harder-edged char­ac­ter is bun­dled in free. Not only is the must-have air sus­pen­sion in­cluded, but the brake pack­age jumps from fourpis­ton, 350mm fronts on the base car to a six-pis­ton/390mm set-up.

Top­ping the range is the $249,400 Turbo, spew­ing 404kw/770nm from its 4.0-litre twin-huf­fer V8.

In­side, the cabin’s new­found sense of space and premium feel is pro­found. Even in base spec, the Cayenne feels nicely ex­e­cuted. Start ad­ding trim op­tions and it be­comes a prop­erly high-end en­vi­ron­ment.

Per­haps you’re a late, even grudg­ing con­vert to the SUV wave. Maybe you’ve driven a few in this seg­ment only to find them still a lit­tle less than quick-wit­ted and sat­is­fy­ing. The new Cayenne, with stan­dard-set­ting lev­els of dy­namic nous, may just make you want to put the boot in.

Model Porsche Cayenne S En­gine 2894cc V6 (90º), dohc, 24v, twin-turbo Max power 324kw @ 5700-6600rpm Max torque 550Nm @ 1800-5500rpm Trans­mis­sion 8-speed au­to­matic Weight 1945kg 0-100km/h 5.2sec (claimed) Econ­omy 9.4L/100km Price $155,100 On sale Now

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