14 November 2017

In detail: new Porsche Cayenne

While most SUVs focused on justifying their utility quotient, a few concentrated on ultimate performance. Meet the third generation Porsche Cayenne`

Devesh Shobha
Car image

The class of 2002 had witnessed the introduction of a new apprentice into the SUV school of thought whose ultimate life-goal was to be a sportscar. Based on a different ideology back then, it looked and felt a bit unconventional in its formative years, but that didn’t deter the Porsche Cayenne from achieving what it set out to be fifteen years ago. The previous generations of Cayenne did set very high standards as far as the thrill of driving went, and today, with distinctive features such as active aero, rear axle steer and lightweight construction, it’s in the process of pushing the goalposts even farther than its batchmates would have imagined it to.

In fact, we feel this third-generation Cayenne could be the closest any SUV could ever get to morph itself into a modern-day sportscar. Yes, we know it’s a tall-ish Porsche and that it could never match the performance of a 911 no matter how close it gets to the German brand’s sportscar DNA, but there’s a lot to the new Cayenne than meets the eye, such as the active rear spoiler that not only adds downforce at high speeds but also works as an airbrake when required. Clever, isn’t it? Read on to better understand the Porsche’s flagship SUV that has a few more tricks up its sleeves, which could possibly give it the bragging rights to being the towering performer amongst luxury SUVs.

Good, Better, Better(er)

For the third-generation Cayenne, Porsche has had to work far into the night to develop something that can take its SUV game to the next level. And while it takes pride in conferring excellent dynamics in everything it creates that has four wheels, what ultimately drives them matters to a great degree. So then, the responsibility is given to a couple of V6s and a stonker of a V8 monster in this case. Seen in the recently launched Panamera, these are newly developed motors for modern-day Porsches and forced induction plays a great role in here. The ‘entry-level’ Cayenne makes do with a relatively older, but heavily reworked 3.0-litre turbo V6 that’s good for 335bhp, the Cayenne S gets the new 2.9-litre bi-turbo V6 that churns out 435bhp, while the range-topping Turbo breathes through a 4.0-litre V8 with two intelligent turbos, spitting out 541bhp and a venomous 770 Newtons.

Good news is that all three motors are teamed with eight-speed sport transmission and Porsche’s rear-biased all-wheel-drive system as standard. As a result, headline figures for the Turbo drops down to 4.1 seconds for a sprint to 100kph – you can further shave 0.2 seconds off that time by opting for the Sports Chrono Package. Not bad for a 2.2 tonne SUV, eh? The base and the S models will take care of their sprinting duties in 6.2 and 5.2 seconds, respectively. In addition, Sports Chrono package will give them another 0.3 seconds’ advantage. Speaking of which, this package also lets the driver select drive modes via a switch on the steering wheel in a typical sportscar fashion.

Function over form

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Porsche is a firm believer of this as far as styling goes, and that’s one of the reasons why most of its modern-day designs are evolutionary. So there’s nothing to feel ashamed of if you can’t call out a new Porsche from the one it replaces. The third-generation Cayenne is no different – it does mimic its predecessor as far as design goes, but if you look closely, a lot of clever touches have been incorporated that make its styling purely functional, helping this tall-ish Porsche go faster than ever. Take for instance the least spoken of elements, the air dams. They are now a standard part of an active aero package across the trim that resolves the age-old conflict between engine cooling and aerodynamics.

Termed as the ‘active cooling air flaps’, these have the same functionality as in any sportscar – the Cayenne, for the first time, can shut all its flaps for minimum drag reduction, and when required, channel air through four of its adaptive systems for engine cooling. There’s also an ‘air curtain’ that allows air to escape from the front wheel arches that apparently minimises air turbulence, offering additional stability. Plus, Porsche has completely covered the underbody to improve air flow under the car, to further optimise aerodynamic performance.

And the crown jewel of the Cayenne’s aero package is this – the adaptive roof spoiler. Not sure if law-abiding Indians can take full advantage of this feature as you need to be clocking more than 160kph on the odo to enjoy most of its benefits. Just like in the 911, this first-in-class spoiler adapts the aerodynamics and downforce to suit the driving conditions, so under 160kph, it’s simply optimising airflow over the Cayenne. It’s only above that speed that the spoiler gets into ‘performance position’, tilting itself by either six, 12.6 or 19.9 degrees to increase stability at high speeds. The best part, under panic braking situations at speeds ranging from 170-270kph, the spoiler panel extends to 28.2 degrees to act as an airbrake, capable of reducing braking distance by up to two metres. Now to find roads that’ll let you do those speeds.

Almost a sportscar

This SUV has learnt a lot of tricks from the sportscars it shares the showrooms with and one such thing is shedding weight. The new Cayenne has lost around 135 kilos of excess fat from its skeleton alone – its lightweight construction is a mix of steel and aluminium for weight advantages and rigidity – allowing Porsche to add more features than before, and still be lighter on its feet. And then there’s the new chassis – designed from scratch, it now boasts features such as Porsche’s dynamic chassis control that stabilises body roll; Porsche Active Suspension Management with new air suspension that actively and continuously regulates the damping force for each wheel, depending on the road conditions and driving style, to offer a fine balance between ride comfort and dynamic abilities; and a first-in-class optional rear-axle steer for added agility around corners.

And while all of these make the Cayenne go faster, Porsche has developed new brakes that can get the SUV to a grinding halt faster than before. Making its world debut are the Porsche Surface Coated Brake that have added advantage of better stopping power and added life over non-PSCB and even Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes.

It still continues to pamper

If you thought the new Cayenne may have lost its SUV charm in its quest to become a sportscar then you’re wrong. The Cayenne is still very much an SUV you can arrive in for a high-profile business meet, embark on a cross-country drive with your loved ones or venture out into the wild should you wish to. The new Cayenne has everything it takes to fulfil the needs of typical Indian SUV buyers and still surprise them with all the new gadgetry it comes with. Like before, the Cayenne comes with 4WD, but now, it gets off-road modes like mud, gravel, sand and rocks to help you tackle different conditions better. If money is no criteria, you can combine the modes with optional Offroad Package and Surround View that offers additional displays for the steering angle, transverse gradient and longitudinal inclines with a top view function that shows the vehicle within its surroundings.

And you can do all of that from the lap of luxury – the insides of a Cayenne now mimic that of the Panamera. That also means Porsche has ditched the plethora of buttons on the centre console for a nifty touch-sensitive panel. There’s also a new, bigger high-res touchscreen infotainment system that now offers far better functionality that before. Through the new 12.3-inch ‘Porsche Communication Management’ screen, occupants can now access sat-nav and Porsche Connect Plus that allows internet connectivity (like modern Audis) and other online services. Apart from the comfortable yet sporty seats (on the Turbo), there are also new assistance systems like predictive InnoDrive (may not be available in India), adaptive cruise control system with stop-and-go function, Lane Keeping Assist and Lane Change Assist, Night Vision Assist, and enhanced driver integration through Porsche Advanced Cockpit.

With all the latest tech Porsche could have bestowed its flagship SUV with, the Cayenne surely makes a strong case for itself. It’s a fine combination that offers you a sportscar-like performance teamed with a luxury car-like cockpit in a shell that represents an SUV-crossover that lets you engage in some mud-plugging activities, too. In the past, we’ve been bowled over by its driving dynamics and we can’t possibly find reasons to believe why that should change. According to industry chatter, the 2018 Cayenne should hit Indian shores around June next-year and we believe it’s the Turbo variant that’s heading our way first. And that won’t be a cheap entry into the 2018 Cayenne club – according to our estimates, the Turbo could deplete your bank balance by Rs 2.5 crore. Will wait for the Cayenne S, then?

Tags: porsche, cayenne, suv, porsche cayenne, super suv, sportscar, german

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