PORSCHE CAYENNE BLOWS INTO MZANSI

Porsche South Africa has launched the all-new Cayenne to the local market, an SUV that was generally slated by critics as a gimmick when it first appeared in 2003, but is now one of the company’s best-selling vehicles. That goes to show the depth of vision at Porsche. The new model is set to shake the tree a little bit, get the current sales leaders looking up and set standards in the sporting department. I drove it in the Western Cape.

Four models will be sold in this country; Cayenne, Cayenne S, Cayenne E-Hybrid and Cayenne Turbo. We had three to drive, excluding the Hybrid. There are quite interesting aspects of design when it comes to the new Cayenne. Obviously the reference point is always the 911. However, whereas the previous two generations were almost haphazard in their approach, this one seems quite focused. For instance, the front air intakes – Porsche insists there are no such thing as grilles in its line-up – look like a spring chest expander from gym.

The two headlights are pretty sophisticated on their own. They feature 4-point LED technology, which can be paired with the Porsche Dynamic Light System (PDLS). Alternatively the same system can be mated to Matrix lights, which appear to sit on the bonnet. The car’s side profile is nothing to shout about, except for those muscular wheel arches. At the rear is where much of the action has taken place, in the form of a new LED lights bar running across both ends, just like in the Panamera. Baseline Cayenne takes trapezoidal exhaust taillights, while S and Turbo get four, two on each end.

The car has grown in length to 4.9 metres, with width at 1.98m and a wheelbase of 2.895m. That gives it plenty of interior space and legroom, good for all the occupants. While on the interior we see Porsche’s posh new infotainment system, Porsche Advanced Cockpit, which features a 31.2cm full-HD touch screen system. Luggage is also accommodated, with space now increased to a massive 770 litres. The electrically-operated tailgate makes life that much easier. On average the Cayenne has shed some 55kg over its predecessor, which is palpable.

Porsche has cleaned up the dashboard area, simplifying things and giving the driver better control of the car. Tactile buttons have been minimised, with touch playing a greater role. The standard 710W BOSE or optional Burmester sound systems are a revelation, blasting out clear and powerful sounds, whether from a Bluetooth streaming device, USB stick or the humble radio. Electrically-adjustable leather seats pose a firm yet comfortable disposition, while the Turbo gets Alcantara covering on the roof lining.

As far as powertrains go, the Cayenne is the baby of the range, featuring a 3.0-litre turbo engine with 250kW of power and 450Nm of pulling torque between 1 300rpm and 5 300rpm. Porsche says it will run from 0 – 100km/h in 5.9 seconds, reaching a respectable 245km/h top speed. I did not feel any inadequacy from the engine myself, with response proving to be good. The Cayenne S is up to 324kW and 550Nm between 1 800rpm and 5 500rpm from its smaller 2.9-litre V6 biturbo motor. If you think you recognise those figures, it’s because they are also found in the Panamera 4S. Here they are said to produce a 0 – 100km/h time of 4.9 seconds and a top end of 265km/h. I didn’t get to test this particular claim, but at the legal speed limit the Cayenne S was very stable, relatively quiet – apart from the pleasant buzzing of that V6 – and comfy.

Top of the pile is the Cayenne Turbo, whose 4.0-litre biturbo V8 engine makes 404kW and 770Nm of torque between 1 960rpm and 4 500rpm. Don’t let these relatively modest figures fool you though. Porsche reckons the car will hurtle from standstill to 100km/h in just 3.9 seconds with the optional Sport Chrono Package, hitting a top speed of 289km/h. Again, I was not in a position to test this, so I’ll take their word for it.

Besides, the Cayenne isn’t all about top speed. It’s also about handling, which it does impressively. Expectedly so. Friends of the brand will know about the PASM active damper system and electric rear-axle steering, but may not know about Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) roll stabilisation, which switches from a hydraulic to an electric system using a 48-V electric system. This greatly improves the car’s dynamics in sporty driving situations and makes the car feel smaller than it actually is when throwing it around curves and corners. The standard 8-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission/ all-wheel-drive combo is great for cruising along, but turns wild when put into S mode. You can either use the paddles shifts behind the multifunction steering wheel, or the gear lever itself, which I actually enjoy myself.

The all-new Porsche Cayenne promises great adventures as a sporty all-rounder, and proceeds to deliver in bucket loads. Because of pricing, not everyone will be able to experience it. However, if you are searching within that segment then it is certainly affordable and should be quite popular with existing customers as well as new ones.

 

Porsche Cayenne Prices

Cayenne – R1 142 000

Cayenne S – R1 296 000

Cayenne E-Hybrid – R1 690 000

Cayenne Turbo – R2 158 000

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