Porsche’s new Cayenne has some in­no­va­tive tech­nol­ogy un­der­pin­ning its spicier new driv­ing dy­nam­ics. Lind­sey Schut­ters takes a look un­der the skin.

Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - Driving -

The new Cayenne is the fastest phone you can drive in. Se­ri­ously. Porsche went to the trou­ble of de­vel­op­ing a voice as­sis­tant with help from Nu­ance and the car can stream Ama­zon Prime Mu­sic. The com­pany de­vel­oped its own nav­i­ga­tion and maps ser­vice with mar­ket-de­pen­dent part­ners such as Navi and Tomtom and you can spec­ify your Cayenne with an em­bed­ded SIM. Of course, there's also on­line ra­dio stream­ing on board and com­pat­i­bil­ity with pod­cast apps like Stitcher.

But un­like a reg­u­lar mo­bile phone, any planned fu­ture fea­tures won't ar­rive via over-the-air soft­ware up­dates. You need to choose your fea­tures care­fully, for that de­ci­sion dic­tates which con­fig­u­ra­tion of the mod­u­lar quad-core pro­ces­sor your ve­hi­cle comes with. Oh, and those mid2018 up­grades are hard­ware-based, so wait un­til those fea­tures are re­leased be­fore buy­ing a new Cayenne. You just won't get them if you don't.

This flies in the face of cur­rent industry trends, spear­headed by the likes of Tesla and Volvo, whereby you can gain new fea- tures overnight, as­sum­ing of course that your car is con­nected to your home Wi-fi net­work. Volvo XC90 own­ers with all the Pi­lot As­sist hard­ware in­stalled, for in­stance, gained semi-au­tonomous drive up to 135 km/h – up from the orig­i­nal 35 km/h – in one such OTA up­date. Even Ford cus­tomers with SYNC 3 in­stalled gained ba­sic Ap­ple Carplay and An­droid Auto pow­ers with­out need­ing to visit a dealer.

But this is about the new Cayenne. At the heart of the Porsche sys­tem is the mod­u­lar elec­tronic con­trol unit. There are four sep­a­rate pro­ces­sors: one for each fam­ily of elec­tronic ser­vices. When you spec­ify your car – in par­tic­u­lar, the driver as­sis­tance sys­tems and fea­tures – it de­ter­mines which pro­ces­sors get added to the ECU. This model works well for the eco­nom­ics of car assem­bly and gives Porsche a lot of wig­gle room to evolve the prod­uct as tech­nol­ogy gets bet­ter, but leaves the cus­tomer ex­posed to ob­so­les­cence. It's a prob­lem that Porsche shares with Tesla, where later mod­els of the same car will gain ex­tra fea­tures as the un­der­pin­ning hard­ware gets more ad­vanced,

On a damp day and on "sum­mer" tyres, the Cayenne made short work of clam­ber­ing up an in­tim­i­dat­ing rock face.

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