Living (Sri Lanka)
Mat Ranasinghe tests a vehicle with sports car aspirations once deemed impossible
The decade leading up to the turn of the century saw vehicle demands shift from cars and wagons to SUVs. While the 1980s saw plenty of fast wagons, BMW followed by Porsche and a few other manufacturers created a niche for highperformance SUVs.
This idea was sold to sports car buyers whose families were expanding. They needed something more practical but with enhanced performance credentials. The first Cayenne was introduced in 2002 and became an instant success.
And Land Rover’s 2004 Range Stormer concept was soon transformed into the Range Rover Sport.
The second generation Cayenne was introduced in 2013 with more powerful engines, stiffer chassis and improved hybrid (metal hydride battery) systems. As a means of demonstrating its prowess, the Cayenne Diesel (and Turbo S petrol) towed an Airbus A380 aircraft a distance of 42 metres in 2017, setting a new world record!
The third generation Cayenne was refined yet again and was available as a coupé for the first time. With perfect proportions and a stunning stance, the Cayenne Coupé is undoubtedly something special. The MLBevo platform also underpins SUVs from the group’s other brands including VW’s Touareg, Audi’s Q7, Bentley’s Bentayga and Lamborghini’s Urus.
Cayenne’s overall design seems more cohesive and able to stand on its own compared to previous generations. The long narrow rear lamps are connected by an LED light strip, below which is a 3D Porsche badge encased in clear plastic.
A special lightweight option package is also available for US$ 15,000. It adds a lightweight carbon fibre roof (replacing the sunroof that’s available in the regular model) and a 22 inch GT wheel package resulting in a 22 kilogramme weight saving over standard.
Another optional extra is the special nonmetallic lava orange paint with black side stickers that adds a whopping 5,000 dollars to the price.
The quality interior finished in premium materials is well
laid out with a large 12.3 inch touch screen in the centre to control the car’s Bose (optional Burmester) infotainment and safety systems. Below that is a centre console section that houses several essential controls that are touch sensitive and provide haptic feedback to the driver to enable him or her to keep their eyes on the road.
It would have been helpful if haptic feedback was provided for the 12.3 inch touchscreen as well, like in the Audi Q8. Wireless Apple CarPlay is available but a glaring omission is Android Auto. The driver’s display consists of a centrally mounted analogue rev counter flanked by colourful digital displays.
The standard eight way power seats hug your body perfectly although there are 18 way moulded options too. And their quality feel is enhanced by the Alcantara wrapped steering and trim panels.
By mounting the rear seats slightly lower in the cabin, Porsche has resolved a major issue in coupé style SUVs and provided ample headroom. As a result, taller rear passengers may feel there is inadequate thigh support. The centre seat is a paid option.
Even in its most basic form, the Cayenne is a capable and sporty SUV true to its brief. Imagine the S E-Hybrid’s 670 bhp rocketing you to 100 kmph in a mere 3.8 seconds – perhaps it’s not impossible for an SUV to be a sports car after all! Somehow, the laws of physics have been somewhat negated and this mid-size SUV feels nimble enough to chuck through corners.
It also does luxury particularly well especially if optioned with the pricey air suspension package. Cayenne is due for a midlife update early next year so you may want to wait if the latest matters to you.
Nevertheless, it will be only a minor aesthetic upgrade consisting of redesigned lamps, a more aggressive hood and new boot lid design.
For the discerning few who find the Cayenne to be within budget, we recommend the Cayenne Coupé over the regular version.