March 28, 2016 @ 09:23 PM

Review: Porsche Cayenne range - Worthy of the badge?

Ferdinand Porsche once said ‘I couldn't find the sports car of my dreams, so I built it myself’, but he never mentioned anything about an SUV.

There’s no arguing, that that famous catch-phrase, uttered by the founder of one of the most prominent automotive institutions in the world, quite impeccably holds true today as it did 84-years ago. The tales of how father Ferdinand Porsche looked everywhere for that which would encompass everything he looked for in an automobile, only to go and build it himself – bears eminence to the motoring world as it did in the fight for civil rights equilibrium when Martin Luther King shouted, “I have a dream”.
 
But this has always been a bugbear of mine. What if the great man himself sat in the very room where the prim-and-prop Porsche accountants were explaining – obviously aided by a barrage of spreadsheet extrapolations and market-research gibber that the inclusion of SUV within the glorious Porsche catalogue would triple market shares, bolster profitability… and the list goes on.
 
Would he then have a smile on his face, while he twiddled his thumbs or gently tapped his pen against the contract’s dotted-line, envisioning all the money the company and indeed he would make, or, would he have gone out guns-blazing like the Sundance Kid, punching the Mahogany table-top and screaming profanities that roughly spell out ‘PDK’ in the German language - “SUV… Neiinnn!”
I digress… but perhaps the age of purist, tradition-linked car manufacturing is gone. In this day and age, unless a company finds itself at the very bottom of bargain basement with offerings like the Tata Nano or in the super-niche, made-to-order hyper car business like Pagani, a company needs an SUV.
 
The success of the Cayenne as a product needs no introduction; perhaps the short-and-long of a legacy that began in 2002 has led to some 276,000 first-gen vehicles sold while the Mk2 model has been more successful with around 303,000 units finding welcoming owners. Now the face lifted second-generation forges ahead now with a host of newer and cleaner engines, slick visual enhancements and including a world premiere - Cayenne S E-Hybrid.
The Cayenne S debuts with a new 3.6-litre bi-turbo engine while the Cayenne Turbo receives a sizeable power hike of 20bhp, now 520bhp and 50Nm to crack 750Nm. Model proliferation is something Porsche know and do very well with the entire Porsche range now consisting, wait for it… 61 variants across five body-styles including the 918 hyper car.  Add to that, a plethora of hop-up options to cater for everyone from Arab Sheikhs to New York stock-broker types – there’s a Cayenne for just about everyone. 
 
On the outside, the gutsy yet toned bodywork has been extensively updated. The front wings and bonnet have been completely redesigned to exude an overall sleek flowing line onto the A-pillar. While in the lower regions, the sleeker front grille is now flanked by angular and functional air-vents (called side blades) interacting nicely with the LED daytime running lights. Down the flanks the, sheet metal flows with sheer grace – tucking in around the doors to imbibe a slender waistline while widening its stance like muscular sinews around the wheel arches. Round the back, the tailgate utilises a light-refracting edge to both create a wider stance and while cleaning up the overall textures of the rear fascia. The ‘S’ models also receive quad-tailpipes to demarcate themselves from the rest of the range.

The tail-lamps now feature four sexy LED strips, while at the front, Porsche’s PDLS (Porsche Dynamic Light System) which boasts the main light beam made up of four distinctive LED lights – grafted to seem as though floating within the lamp assembly.
 
Three variants will find most relevance to local palates – these consist of the Cayenne 3.6, Cayenne S 3.6 bi-turbo and the Cayenne Diesel 3.0. 
 
Understanding the differences between the trio, from the most minute of details to the awe-inspiring overall numbers, have been condensed into the factsheets in the preceding pages. However, as with any vehicle that embellishes the famed Stuttgart logo as soon as palms grace the soft leathers of the steering wheel – the driving sensation is everything. If the proof is really in the pudding – let’s drive!
 
This may, however, come as a surprise, but the entry level Cayenne 3.6 feels slow. This might, of course, sound blasphemous, but I do mean it in a nice way. If your frames of reference for the Cayenne are most every other car trapped within the monotony of everyday traffic – then no, it’s lively 300bhp and 400Nm combo is surely more than adequate to speed up the heart rate. The power plant pulls strong as soon as the tacho-needle hits the 2500rpm mark and hums to the tune of a sonorous falsetto when one really puts the pedal down. 
 
Much like the rev-happy flat-sixes Porsche is famous for – the 3.6 V6 power plant in the Cayenne takes joy when wrung to the very last rpm of usable power – and the experience of it is great nonetheless.
 
Coupled to an active eight-speed gearbox, getting into the right powerband to get moving often needs a combination of multiple shift-pedal taps down and a firm foot to the floor, but when this thing starts going – it goes! The speed limit is despatched at ease all the way to around 170kph (and that’s plenty) where the accelerative forces start to mellow down. The gearshifts are ‘Glock’-trigger quick and the ride suitably comfortable. 
Where the boggo-Cayenne becomes supremely impressive are when the roads get tighter, tracking through an undulating back-road, the car feels nimble and responsive, despite only weighing some 45kg lighter than the ‘S’ variant – the gains seem exponential when trying to shift the car’s balance from end-to-end and tuck-in towards the line at corner entry. 
 
But while in the rest of the company that we find here – it will seem a tad overworked when asked to keep up. However, the entry Cayenne  remains worthy accession for any SUV aficionado into the Porsche family. 
 
Because once you get into the Cayenne S, everything sensation is heightened and extrapolated with good measure. The ride with the adaptive dampers is nothing short of staggering, uber-compliant on the rough blacktop of the city and tough-as-nails in the corners. Body control is where I feel these all these cars have improved most. I mean, you really have to take thing to the ragged-edge to induce a bit of slip-and-slide action, and 364 days of the year, one simply won’t. The grip levels are massive and the brakes quell any waywardness in such haste – that rarely, despite the gargantuan proportions of these cars, does one not feel in control. 
That massive 120bhp hike feels like night and day – once the motorway opens-up, this ‘SUV’ simply becomes a two-tonne projectile. Porsche claims the Cayenne S takes 3.7s to accelerate from 80kph-120kph, let me categorically explain, it’s just as powerful going from 120- to 160kph… trust me! Where the Cayenne relaxes, the ‘S’ variant blows-by in an air of power and fury, not letting-up even when figures go beyond the 200kph mark.  SUVs shouldn’t be this fast!
 
In the corners, where the Cayenne might shift into the corner earlier than the Cayenne S, the wave of torque starts to build faster mid-corner, be careful where you out the power down but as soon as you do – it simply disappears from a chasing Cayenne. 
 
Personally, there was no doubting the new Cayenne’s performance and indeed desirability. They’re melodic symphonies of engineering – adjudicating them goes beyond pinching the leather upholstery and wiggling the sun-visors. These cars, priced as they are – have to feel special. 
To that effect, the car that would have made father Ferdinand Porsche stop-short of throwing his paper-weight at the market researcher is the Porsche Cayenne Diesel. Priced identically to the Cayenne, in my opinion – it’s the pick of the bunch. 
 
Despite being the heaviest and sporting the least amount of horsepower – all feelings of insecurities disappear the moment the tacho-needle hits 1800rpm. The experience of 460Nm of torque pummelling all four-wheels is heavenly. 
The slick gear change clamps down on tall, talented gear ratios to build speed almost as quickly as the Cayenne S, and leaves the Cayenne in a puff of carbon exuberance. In the city, stoplight-to-stoplight it is the most serene, not requiring a dollop of revs to build speed and requiring the least amount of effort to keep going quickly. The heft is felt somewhat trying to anchor down before a corner and there’s a tad bit more roll in the long sweepers – otherwise, the difference is imperceptible. 
 
He might have even gone: “SUV…. diesel… gut!”

Words: Arvind Kumar
Pictures: Porsche Malaysia
 
SPEC
 
Porsche Cayenne 
 
Price: RM640,000 onwards
Engine: 3598cc vee-six, 24v, cylinder angle 90-degrees, four overhead camshafts, continuous inlet and outlet valve control by variable valve timing and lift (VarioCam Plus), direct injection, integrated dry sump lubrication. Compression Ratio 11.65:1, 300bhp @ 6300rpm, 400Nm @ 3000rpm
Gearbox: Eight-speed Tiptronic S. Porsche Traction Management (PTM): active hang-on all-wheel drive with electronically controlled, map-controlled, multi-plate clutch; permanently driven rear axle, fully variable distribution of power to the front axle.
Suspension: Front axle: aluminium double-wishbone suspension. Struts with steel springs and internal hydraulic double-tube gas dampers. Rear axle: multi-link suspension Struts with steel springs and internal hydraulic double-tube gas dampers.
Brakes: Dual-circuit brake system with separate circuits for front and rear axles.Front: six-piston aluminium Monobloc brake callipers; 350mm internally-ventilated brake discs, Rear: four-piston aluminium Monobloc brake callipers, 330 mm internally-ventilated brake discs.
Safety: Porsche Stability Management (PSM). Brake assist. Multi-collision brake. Electric parking brake. Six-airbags: two-stage driver and front passenger, side airbags and curtain airbags.
Aerodynamics: Cd: 0.35
Wheels and Tyres: Front & Rear 8 J x 18 with 255/55 R 18
Weight: 2,040kg
Dimensions (Length x Width x Height): 4,855 mm x 1,939 mm x 1,705 mm
Wheelbase: 2,895mm
Luggage capacity (max): 1780-litres
Performance: Top speed 230kph, 0 – 100 km/h 7.7s with sports-chrono 7.6s, 9.2 l/100 km 215g/km CO2
 
Porsche Cayenne Diesel
 
Price: RM640,000 onwards
Engine: 2967cc vee-six, 24v, cylinder angle 90-degrees, grey cast iron engine block, aluminium, cylinder heads, four overhead camshafts, hydraulic valve lifters, common rail diesel direct injection (2,000 bar) via piezo-controlled injectors; one turbocharger with variable turbine geometry (VTG), Compression Ratio 16.8:1, 245bhp @ 3800rpm - 4400rpm, 550Nm @ 1750rpm - 2750rpm
Gearbox: Eight-speed Tiptronic S.Porsche Traction Management (PTM): permanent all-wheel drive with limited-slip centre differential. Basic torque distribution (Front/Rear) 42/58
Suspension: Front axle: aluminium double-wishbone suspension. Struts with steel springs and internal, hydraulic double-tube gas dampers. Rear axle: multi-link suspension Struts with steel springs and internal hydraulic double-tube gas dampers.
Brakes: Dual-circuit brake system with separate circuits for front and rear axles.Front: six-piston aluminium Monobloc brake callipers; 350mm internally-ventilated brake discs, Rear: four-piston aluminium Monobloc brake callipers, 330 mm internally-ventilated brake discs.
Safety: Porsche Stability Management (PSM). Brake assist. Multi-collision brake. Electric parking brake. Six-airbags: two-stage driver and front passenger, side airbags and curtain airbags.
Aerodynamics: Cd: 0.36
Wheels and Tyres: Front & Rear 8 J x 18 with 255/55 R 18
Weight: 2,110kg
Dimensions (Length x Width x Height): 4,855 mm x 1,939 mm x 1,705 mm
Wheelbase: 2,895 mm
Luggage capacity (max):1728-litres
Performance: Top speed 221kph, 0 – 100 km/h 7.3s with sports-chrono 7.2 s, 6.8 – 6.6 l/100 km 179 – 173 g/km CO2
 
Porsche Cayenne S
 
Price: RM760,000 onwards
Engine: 3604cc vee-six Bi-turbo, 24v, cylinder angle 90-degrees, four overhead camshafts, continuous inlet and outlet valve control by variable valve timing and lift (VarioCam Plus), hydraulic valve lifter, intake manifold oscillation charging and two-stage variable length intake manifold, direct injection, integrated dry sump lubrication. Compression Ratio 10.5:1, 420bhp @ 6000rpm, 550Nm at 1350rpm - 4500 rpm
Gearbox: Eight-speed Tiptronic S. Porsche Traction Management (PTM): active hang-on all-wheel drive with electronically controlled, map-controlled, multi-plate clutch; permanently driven rear axle, fully variable distribution of power to the front axle.
Suspension: Front axle: aluminium double-wishbone suspension. Struts with steel springs and internal hydraulic double-tube gas dampers. Rear axle: multi-link suspension Struts with steel springs and internal hydraulic double-tube gas dampers.
Brakes: Dual-circuit brake system with separate circuits for front and rear axles.Front: six-piston aluminium Monobloc brake callipers; 360 mm internally-ventilated brake discs, Rear: four-piston aluminium Monobloc brake callipers, 330 mm internally-ventilated brake discs,
Safety: Porsche Stability Management (PSM). Brake assist. Multi-collision brake. Electric parking brake. Six-airbags: two-stage driver and front passenger, side airbags and curtain airbags.
Aerodynamics: Cd: 0.36
Wheels and Tyres: Front & Rear 8 J x 18 with 235/55 R 18
Weight: 2,085kg
Dimensions: (Length x Width x Height): 4,855 mm x 1,939 mm x 1,705 mm
Wheelbase: 2,895 mm
Luggage capacity (max):1780-litres
Performance: Top speed 259kph, 0 – 100 km/h 5.5s with sports-chrono 5.4s, 9.8 - 9.5l/100 km 229 - 223g/km CO2
 

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