Chan­nel­ing the sportscar spirit

ROAD TEST/ The third-gen­er­a­tion Cayenne is lighter, lustier and gets some new agility-as­sist­ing tech, writes De­nis Droppa

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

When Porsche first launched the Cayenne back in 2002 there were twinges of purist dis­com­fort at the brand com­pro­mis­ing it­self and “giv­ing in to the estab­lish­ment”.

Since then the pre­science of Porsche’s move has proven it­self with the Cayenne be­com­ing the brand’s most pop­u­lar seller, and this has in­spired Maserati, Bent­ley, Rolls-Royce, Lam­borgh­ini — and soon even Fer­rari — to launch ve­hi­cles that feed the pub­lic’s hunger for lux­ury sportscars in hik­ing boots.

Porsche has stuck to its sport­ing DNA in the first two gen­er­a­tions of the ve­hi­cle, and so too with the new, third—gen­er­a­tion Cayenne which re­cently went on sale in SA.

It is an it­er­a­tive up­grade over its pre­de­ces­sor rather than a rad­i­cal re­design, but many of the changes have been of a per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing na­ture, in­clud­ing shed­ding up to 65kg of weight due to the use of more alu­minium in its con­struc­tion. It’s also fit­ted with wider tyres at the rear than at the front, and it gets the op­tion of rear-axle steer­ing for the first time.

The stan­dard Cayenne uses a 3l sin­gle-turbo V6 en­gine with 250kW (29kW more than the pre­vi­ous model), while the flag­ship Cayenne Turbo is fired along by a 4l V8 biturbo with 404kW (a 22kW improve­ment).

It’s the mid­dle model on test here, the Cayenne S, which is moved along by a petrol biturbo 2.9l V6 with out­puts of 324kW (a 15kW in­crease) and the same 550Nm of torque as its pre­de­ces­sor. Porsche claims a 265km/h top speed for the ve­hi­cle and a 0-100km/h sprint in just 5.2 sec­onds (with Sport Chrono Pack­age: 4.9 sec­onds), claims I have lit­tle prob­lem be­liev­ing af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing its dis­tance-blitz­ing abil­i­ties.

A new eight-speed Tip­tronic S gear­box de­liv­ers shorter re­sponse times and sportier ra­tios in the lower gears, with a long eighth gear for bet­ter fuel con­sump­tion. I found the trans­mis­sion some­what clunky in low-paced ur­ban driv­ing, but it was bet­ter on the open road.

The test ve­hi­cle rode on stan­dard steel sus­pen­sion with three se­lectable firm­ness set­tings. I found it some­what firm in ride qual­ity even in the soft­est of its three modes, and the op­tion­al­ly­fit­ted low-pro­file 20-inch wheels (19-inch­ers come stan­dard) fur­ther en­sured this ve­hi­cle never felt like a plush-rid­ing VW Touareg. This is the au­to­mo­tive equiv­a­lent of a pair of run­ning shoes, not slip­pers.

At ex­tra cost the Cayenne is avail­able with adap­tive air sus­pen­sion which should of­fer a more sooth­ing ride.

The stiff sus­pen­sion does the busi­ness in the cor­ners, cou­pled with ac­tive all-wheel drive that ap­por­tions torque between the front and rear axles as needed. The all-wheel drive Cayenne has a sharp­ness of turn-in and pinned-down na­ture that no ve­hi­cle this size should have any right to, along with nicely weighted steer­ing.

Our ve­hi­cle had the op­tional Sport Chrono Pack­age, with a Mode but­ton on the steer­ing wheel of­fer­ing Nor­mal, Sport and Sport Plus driv­ing modes that ad­just the en­gine and sus­pen­sion, while the driver can also se­lect an in­di­vid­u­ally con­fig­urable mode.

A fairly ma­jor re­design sees the Cayenne look­ing sleeker by means of a length in­crease of 63mm to 4,918mm, and a re­duc­tion of its roof height to give it a more stream­lined, hun­kered-down sil­hou­ette. The tail lights have been slimmed to look more 911-like, and the der­riere now holds a use­ful 700l of lug­gage — a 100l in­crease.

In a driv­ing helm that looks more star­ship than car-like, func­tions can be con­trolled by the touch­screen, a smart­phone­like touch sur­face with hap­tic feed­back and real but­tons.

The stan­dard bun­dle of com­forts comes with items like elec­tri­cally ad­justable front seats and touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment with nav­i­ga­tion, but there’s a deep rab­bit hole of ex­tra-cost op­tions Type: V6 biturbo petrol Ca­pac­ity: 2,894cc Power: 324kW at 5,700-6,600r/min Torque: 550Nm @ 1,800-5,500r/min Type: Eight-speed Tip­tronic S au­to­matic Type: Full-time all-wheel drive with vari­able torque dis­tri­bu­tion between front and rear axle Top Speed: 265km/h 0-100km/h: 5.2 sec­onds (with Sport Chrono Pack­age: 4.9 sec­onds) Fuel Con­sump­tion: 9.3l/100km (claimed); 14.1l/100km (as tested) Emis­sions: 213g/km Steel springs with Porsche Ac­tive Sus­pen­sion Man­age­ment (PASM) LED main head­lights, larger wheels, ParkAs­sist (front and rear), an­tic­i­pa­tory pedes­trian pro­tec­tion, sta­bil­ity con­trol, Porsche Ac­tive Sus­pen­sion Man­age­ment (PASM), ABS brakes, eight airbags, elec­tric mir­rors, elec­tric win­dows, cli­mate con­trol, cruise con­trol, par­tial leather seats, au­to­matic tail­gate, elec­tri­cally ad­justable front seats, Porsche Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Man­age­ment (PCM) sys­tem in­clud­ing nav­i­ga­tion and voice con­trol, 10-speaker au­dio sys­tem with Blue­tooth War­ranty: Two years/un­lim­ited dis­tance Main­te­nance plan: Five years/100,000km Price: R1,322,000 Lease*: R28,183 per month avail­able, in­clud­ing night vi­sion as­sist, lane keep­ing as­sist, adap­tive cruise con­trol and ma­trix beam head­lights to name a few.

With the stan­dard steel springs the Cayenne’s ground clear­ance is fixed at 190mm but it can be raised to 245mm with the op­tional air sus­pen­sion. Even with­out the air springs the all-wheel drive trac­tion and se­lectable of­froad driv­ing pro­grammes for gravel, mud, sand and rocks, should make the Cayenne a use­ful trail­blazer.

But most own­ers’ play­ground will be tar roads, prefer­ably twisty ones, and here the Cayenne ful­fills its brand prom­ise by be­ing closer to a sportscar in spirit than be­fore.

Prices for the new-gen­er­a­tion Cayenne range from R1,142,000 for the Cayenne to R1,322,000 for the Cayenne S and R2,158,000 for the range­top­ping Turbo. A Cayenne petrol-elec­tric E-Hy­brid will be avail­able later for R1,690,000, but there won’t be any diesel de­riv­a­tives.

With an 800 grand sav­ing over the range-top­ping Cayenne Turbo, the Cayenne S seems the value-for-money choice in the range. Value for money

EN­GINE TRANS­MIS­SION DRIV­E­TRAIN PER­FOR­MANCE (claimed) SUS­PEN­SION: STAN­DARD FEA­TURES COST OF OWN­ER­SHIP Over­all

Jaguar F-Pace 35t AWD S, 280kW/450Nm — R1,208,559 Range Rover Sport SE SCV6, 250kW/450Nm — R1,234,257 Maserati Le­vante S, 316kW/580Nm — R1,967,105 Mercedes AMG GLE 43, 270kW/520Nm — R1,269,849 Volvo XC90 T8 AWD Mo­men­tum, 300kW/640Nm — R1,184,900

De­sign Econ­omy Re­designed tail lights are in­spired by the 911, and con­nected by a nar­row strip of LEDs.

The com­mand-cen­tre con­trols take some get­ting used to, but there’s also voice con­trol to sim­plify things.

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