STRIPPED-DOWN NEW CAYENNE EN­HANCES PORSCHE’S SUV MAS­TERY

Porsche has just launched its new third-gen­er­a­tion Cayenne SUV, the most pop­u­lar Porsche ever. Jack Evans puts it to the test

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - FIRST DRIVE BY JACK EVANS

WHAT IS IT?

Since the first-gen­er­a­tion Porsche Cayenne was un­veiled in 2002, more than 770,000 units have been sold world­wide – mak­ing it the brand’s most pop­u­lar car. Now there’s a new third-gen­er­a­tion model, bring­ing with it bet­ter tech­nol­ogy lev­els as well as el­e­vated per­for­mance.

There are three mod­els avail­able from launch – Cayenne, S and Turbo – all of­fer­ing a cer­tain de­gree of sportscar-like per­for­mance trans­planted in an SUV. We tested the mid­dle-pow­ered S.

WHAT’S NEW?

There’s quite a lot that has changed in the new Cayenne over the pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion car. It’s lighter, for one, with weight stripped back thanks to an ex­ten­sive use of alu­minium through­out the body. All the en­gines on of­fer are down­sized too but up on power – a ben­e­fit of tur­bocharg­ing.

A new eight-speed gear­box has been fit­ted to pro­vide seam­less shifts, and rear-axle steer­ing is now avail­able – a first for the range – which comes along­side Porsche’s new Sur­face Coated Brake, of­fer­ing bet­ter stop­ping per­for­mance than a con­ven­tional brake. In­side, the Cayenne ben­e­fits from Porsche’s lat­est in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, sim­i­lar to that found in the cur­rent-gen­er­a­tion Panam­era.

WHAT’S UN­DER THE BON­NET?

As men­tioned, three pow­er­trains are avail­able with the new Cayenne – and we tested the mid­dle-pow­ered S. This uses a bi-turbo 2.9-litre V6 engine that pro­duces 434bhp and an im­pres­sive 550bhp.

Send­ing power to all four wheels via an eight-speed

gear­box, it al­lows the Cayenne S to hit 60mph in just 4.7 sec­onds with the Sport Chrono pack fit­ted (4.9 with­out) – a sec­ond quicker than the car it re­places. All Cayenne mod­els fea­ture Ac­tive Porsche Trac­tion Man­age­ment, which uses an elec­tron­i­cally and map-con­trolled clutch to dis­trib­ute torque be­tween the wheels.

This means it can ac­tively de­cide how much force to send to the front and rear axles, to gen­er­ate the most amount of grip pos­si­ble.

Our test car also fea­tured four­wheel steer­ing, which ef­fec­tively short­ens the wheel­base to make low-speed ma­noeu­vres a lit­tle eas­ier.

In ad­di­tion, it came with air sus­pen­sion and Porsche’s lat­est Dy­namic Chas­sis Con­trol, which uses an elec­tro-me­chan­i­cal roll sta­bil­i­sa­tion sys­tem to ef­fec­tively con­trol the chas­sis.

In prac­tice, it’s hugely ef­fec­tive – and means the ride re­mains com­fort­able and sup­ple when you need it to be, or taut when you’re driv­ing a lit­tle quicker. It must be men­tioned that both of these fea­tures are op­tional ex­tras.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?

The first thing you no­tice when driv­ing the new Cayenne is sim­ply how well dis­guised the car’s weight is. De­spite be­ing longer than the car it re­places, it’s ac­tu­ally 65 kilo­grams lighter – and that makes a huge dif­fer­ence, par­tic­u­larly when cor­ner­ing the car’s lower bulk which, com­bined with Porsche’s Dy­namic Chas­sis Con­trol and ac­tive roll sta­bil­i­sa­tion sys­tems, means you get very lit­tle roll, and the en­tire ve­hi­cle feels planted through­out the bend.

The eight-speed au­to­matic is happy to be left to its own de­vices but is ac­cu­rate when you want to shift man­u­ally via the steer­ing-wheel-mounted pad­dles – par­tic­u­larly in Sport and Sport Plus driv­ing modes.

The engine is some­thing of a tri­umph, too. Though smaller in ca­pac­ity than the unit it re­places, it’s no less po­tent, pack­ing 17 ex­tra horses. It revs freely and never feels lethar­gic de­spite the car’s heft, but will hap­pily set­tle down to a cruise, too. It even makes a pleas­ingly me­chan­i­cal noise.

Our test car was fit­ted with up­graded ce­ramic brakes, which pro­vide a huge amount of stop­ping per­for­mance.

In truth, they seem a touch over the top for the likes of the Cayenne S – we tested an­other Cayenne us­ing the stan­dard brake and this pro­vides more than enough brak­ing power for the mid­dle-range S model – though the new Sur­face Coated Brakes are also ex­cel­lent if you’re af­ter just an up­grade.

The steer­ing, pre­dictably from a Porsche car, is su­perbly set up. There’s plenty of weight to it, and it re­mains ac­cu­rate at both low and high speeds. It means that, de­spite the Cayenne’s sheer size, you can place it on the road pre­cisely where you want.

HOW DOES IT LOOK?

Still very much recog­nis­able as a Cayenne, Porsche’s lat­est SUV is ar­guably the most hand­some in­car­na­tion yet – in our eyes at least. The front end is dom­i­nated

“A new eight-speed gear­box has been fit­ted to pro­vide seam­less shifts, and rear-axle steer­ing is now avail­able – a first for the range – which comes along­side Porsche’s new Sur­face Coated Brake, of­fer­ing bet­ter stop­ping per­for­mance than a con­ven­tional brake.”

by the larger air in­takes, with both the Cayenne and Cayenne S mod­els get­ting sil­ver-coloured slats. New three-mod­ule LED lights give the Cayenne a more im­pos­ing look at night, while the in­te­grated light strip at the rear is a styling trait we’ve al­ready seen on the Panam­era – and it looks just as good here.

WHAT’S IT LIKE IN­SIDE?

The in­te­rior is a great place to be and worlds apart from the but­ton-heavy cabin found in the pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion car. The large 12.3-inch in­fo­tain­ment screen gives ac­cess to me­dia and nav­i­ga­tion func­tions, and is clear to use as well as be­ing im­pres­sively re­spon­sive.

Ap­ple Carplay is now in­cluded as stan­dard to give seam­less in­te­gra­tion be­tween your smart­phone and the car’s sys­tem, too.

The new touch­screen-style but­tons sur­round­ing the gearshift work smoothly, though the op­er­a­tions you use fre­quently re­main ana­logue – you still change the stereo’s vol­ume via a roller switch, for in­stance.

It’s also been made more prac­ti­cal than the pre­vi­ous model, with 100 litres of ex­tra space to play with, to­talling an im­pres­sive 770 litres with the seats up, ris­ing to 1710 litres with them low­ered. De­spite this ex­tra load area, there’s still a de­cent amount of head- and legroom to be found in the back.

Ev­ery­thing is well put to­gether, with soft leather used higher up the cabin and solid rub­ber-ef­fect plas­tic used lower down.

WHAT’S THE SPEC LIKE?

The new Cayenne S comes in at £68,330, which is cer­tainly not a small amount of money. How­ever, it jus­ti­fies this price tag with a dis­tinct sense of qual­ity, as well as a de­cent amount of stan­dard ma­te­rial. Front and rear park­ing sen­sors come in­cluded in the base price, as does cruise con­trol and LED head­lights.

Of course, you also get the large in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem in­cluded as stan­dard, which com­pletely trans­forms the cabin. Be­ing a Porsche, you could go quite over­board with the op­tions list and quickly ramp up the price, but even as stan­dard you’re un­likely to be dis­ap­pointed.

VER­DICT

The new Cayenne needed to be pretty well sorted to live up to the rep­u­ta­tion set by its pre­de­ces­sor and, thank­fully, it is. Porsche al­ways thought of the Cayenne as a ‘sporty’ SUV, and that’s cer­tainly the case with this lat­est model.

It rides and han­dles like a car half its size, while of­fer­ing plenty of space and prac­ti­cal­ity. Given these first im­pres­sions, we pre­dict that the new Cayenne will sell just as well as the old one.

“The in­te­rior is a great place to be and worlds apart from the

but­ton-heavy cabin found in the pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion car. The large 12.3-inch in­fo­tain­ment screen gives ac­cess to me­dia and nav­i­ga­tion func­tions, and is clear to use as well as be­ing im­pres­sively re­spon­sive.”

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