New Cayenne sheds weight, gains power

LAUNCH NEWS/ New SUV is even closer to its roots as a Porsche sports car, writes Roger Houghton

Business Day - Motor News - - COMMERCIAL NEWS -

Sel­dom does an out­sider, such as a jour­nal­ist, get the op­por­tu­nity to fol­low the ges­ta­tion of a new ve­hi­cle through three im­por­tant stages of its de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme. I had such an op­por­tu­nity with the just-re­leased 2018 Porsche Cayenne large SUV, the most pop­u­lar model in the brand’s grow­ing range in SA, with a 41% share.

A year ago, I was part of a small group of jour­nal­ists who at­tended a Porsche tech­nol­ogy con­fer­ence linked to the up­com­ing Cayenne in Düs­sel­dorf, Ger­many. This was fol­lowed, in Jan­uary, by at­ten­dance at the global launch of this third gen­er­a­tion Cayenne in the UAE emi­rate of Fu­jairah and Oman. Fi­nally, last week, I got to drive three de­riv­a­tives of the new model — Cayenne, Cayenne S and Cayenne Turbo — at a launch route in the Western Cape.

Cold and wet weather in the Cape, to­gether with strong wind, were not re­ally de­trac­tors but widened the ex­pe­ri­ence of driv­ing th­ese all-wheel drive mod­els.

Once out of the in­ter­minable traf­fic jams around Cape Town the route took us through swoop­ing bends and fa­mous moun­tain passes on the way to the lunch stop at De Kelders and then we tack­led the switch­back that is the Houwhoek Pass on the way back to Porsche Cen­tre in Cape Town.

The Cayenne cer­tainly did not dis­ap­point, and the over­rid­ing im­pres­sion was one of to­geth­er­ness with the car when at the wheel and the gen­eral driv­ing com­fort over a va­ri­ety of road sur­faces. The smooth­ness of the ride cer­tainly be­lied the sporty prowess of th­ese pop­u­lar SUVs.

IM­PRES­SIVE

My first im­pres­sions of the Cayenne, last Septem­ber, came in three mod­els driven by pro­fes­sional driv­ers at the ADAC driver train­ing fa­cil­ity in Greven­broich, near Düs­sel­dorf. Th­ese drives were short, but im­pres­sive. They in­volved climb­ing a steep gra­di­ent, tack­ling rugged ter­rain and a high-speed fi­nale on a wet road in the Turbo model.

The com­pletely re­de­vel­oped 2018 Cayenne is even closer to its roots as a Porsche sports car than pre­vi­ously, with sig­nif­i­cant in­creases in all as­pects of per­for­mance.

Porsche de­sign­ers and en­gi­neers have man­aged to keep a tight hold on costs, as the tech­nol­ogy in the Cayenne has ad­vanced rapidly while the num­ber of fea­tures has also in­creased. It is, there­fore, a ma­jor achieve­ment that this pre­mium model range re­tains its value-for­money rep­u­ta­tion for buy­ers along with its abil­ity to re­tain value in the pre-owned mar­ket.

Prices range from R1,142,000 for the Cayenne to R1,296,000 for the Cayenne S and R2,158,000 for the Turbo. A Cayenne petrol-elec­tric E-Hy­brid will be avail­able later for R1,690,000, while there is still no date for diesel-en­gined de­riv­a­tives.

The third gen­er­a­tion Cayenne is a new de­vel­op­ment. It is lighter — due to the use of more alu­minium — and more pow­er­ful, com­bin­ing tra­di­tional Porsche per­for­mance with every­day prac­ti­cal­ity and a high level of safety for the oc­cu­pants.

There are pow­er­ful tur­bocharged petrol en­gines and a new, eight-speed Tip­tronic S gear­box with per­ma­nent all­wheel drive, as well as new chas­sis sys­tems, in all mod­els.

The Cayenne is fit­ted with a new 3l V6 en­gine de­vel­op­ing 250kW, which is 29kW more than the pre­vi­ous model. The 2.9l V6 biturbo en­gine in the Cayenne S de­vel­ops 324kW, which is an in­crease of 15kW and en­ables it to reach speeds up to 265km/h. The lat­est Cayenne Turbo is fit­ted with a 4l V8 biturbo en­gine de­liv­er­ing 404kW, which is 22kW up on its pre­de­ces­sor and per­mits it to ac­cel­er­ate from zero to 100km/h in 4.1 sec­onds, and on to a top speed of 286km/h.

The ap­pear­ance of the Cayenne has been changed grad­u­ally to bring it even closer to the Porsche DNA. The lat­est model is slightly longer and lower, which gives the car a sleeker sil­hou­ette, while the lug­gage com­part­ment vol­ume has been in­creased by 100l to 700l ca­pac­ity. The wheels are 25mm larger in di­am­e­ter with wider tyres on the rear axle for the first time. The en­larged air in­takes at the front give a clear in­di­ca­tion of im­proved per­for­mance.

The new, slick-shift­ing eight­speed Tip­tronic S gear­box con­trib­utes markedly to the im­proved per­for­mance with shorter shift re­sponse times and sportier ra­tios in the lower gears which not only en­hance on­road per­for­mance but also con­trib­ute to im­proved off-road abil­ity. At the other end of the spec­trum, the high gear­ing in the eighth ratio op­ti­mises fuel econ­omy and re­laxed driv­ing.

The Cayenne has cer­tainly done won­ders in grow­ing Porsche’s range and sales vol­ume since the sports car firm rocked the es­tab­lish­ment by launch­ing its first SUV in 2002.

How­ever, since then there have been a plethora of SUV mod­els from other pre­mium niche brands such as Lam­borgh­ini, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, and Bent­ley, join­ing a space which has long in­cluded de­riv­a­tives from BMW, MercedesBenz, Lexus, In­finiti, Audi, and Range Rover. Even Fer­rari is set to join the fray, while Geely, the Chi­nese owner of the Bri­tish sports car brand Lo­tus, is con­sid­er­ing a Lo­tus SUV.

The new Cayenne must be a favourite for the 2019 South African Car of the Year ti­tle.

THE SMOOTH­NESS OF THE RIDE CER­TAINLY BE­LIED THE SPORTY PROWESS OF TH­ESE POP­U­LAR SUVS

Three petrol Cayenne mod­els will ini­tially be avail­able in SA, with a diesel and hy­brid to fol­low. Left: The cabin blends el­e­gance with hi-tech.

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