By Martin O’neil
The Porsche Cayenne packs a powerful V8 engine, a quick-shifting transmission, and a bunch of enhancements.
When powered by a 471 kW four-litre biturbo V8 engine that provides the basis for superb driving characteristics and with 67 kW more of power on tap and maximum torque of 850 Nm, the 0-100 km/h sprint is reduced to 3.3 seconds at a top speed of 300 km/h.
With even sportier lines and available exclusively as a five-seater luxury SUV, the Porsche Cayenne comes with all available chassis systems fitted as standard and performance tyres developed specially for this model. The power-train and chassis have a unique set-up specifically tuned. The result is a harmonious overall concept with superb racetrack capability. This has been proven by Porsche test driver Lars Kern, setting a new official SUV record.
Based on racing performance, both the passive chassis components and active control systems have been re-engineered and optimised for handling and performance. They also feature specific calibration to guarantee perfect interaction between them.
The Cayenne incorporates a 4-litre twin-turbo V8 that takes centre stage with its blitz worthy power and torque outputs. Make no mistake: the Porsche Cayenne is Porsche’s most performance-oriented SUV.
In addition to the powerful engine, Porsche gave the SUV several enhancements to make it drive even more like a sports car. The air suspension is 15 percent stiffer, with the system adjusted to handle the extra power. The power-steering setup and rear-axle steering are also re-tuned, and Porsche engineers said they were overall able to reduce body roll and increase the car’s precision in corners.
The Cayenne’s 22-inch Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres were developed for top performance, and its carbon-ceramic brakes, distinguished by their yellow calipers, measure a massive 17.3-inches in the front and 16.1 inches back. The Cayenne’s all-wheel-drive system includes a water-cooled transfer case to support the model’s ultra-high performance.
Porsche thankfully also focused on reducing weight. The titanium exhaust and the SUV’s wheels, for example, shaves some load. Other bits exclusive in the version sampled for this article, include a carbon-fibre roof, a unique front fascia with larger air intakes, a centre exhaust pipe, and an awesome-looking carbon-fibre fixed rear spoiler.
A sea of Alcantara is probably the first thing you’ll notice once onboard a new Porsche Cayenne. From the seats to the door panels to the steering wheel, the Cayenne is covered in the suede-like material. Additionally, the bronze-like seat-belts, seat inserts, and contrast stitching match the Neodyme wheels and distinguish the Cayenne cabins. Black or red leather is available as an option.
Also helping to differentiate versions of other Cayenne throughout the cabin, a red button on the drive-mode selector, and the lack of metal around the air vents. Everything else, however, is very similar to the Cayenne, including the centre console’s sporty handlebars.
People with Android phones will be delighted to know Porsche’s new infotainment system, which arrives in the Cayenne, is now compatible with Android Auto. Other important updates include the integration of Apple Music and Apple Podcasts into the infotainment system itself, and the arrival of over-the-air-updates.
While the Cayenne’s power figures raise eyebrows, its handling and steering are sure to impress. In every corner, the Cayenne promises balance and stability to rotate nicely on twisty roads while maintaining a composed posture. What’s even more impressive is the degree of confidence one will feel behind the wheel as it will do everything so well, plus encourage you to try harder for the next corner, braking later and carrying more momentum through to the exits.
Like in a sports car, the suspension is calibrated so you feel almost every bump or rut. Its tyres feel like tar, delivering massive traction, and its steering is as accurate as you’ll find in an SUV. Simply aim the steering wheel’s yellow centre stripe in the right direction, and you probably won’t have to move your hands again.
Then there is the lightning-fast 8-speed transmission and the power delivery. The transmission is so quick and so well calibrated, one pretty much doesn’t need to ever use the paddle shifters for any reason other than you just enjoy doing so. Step on the throttle and you feel the torque get to the pavement with linearity and seemingly endless push. The experience makes you feel like a kid riding an infinite sugar rush.
The ride can feel a bit harsh on city streets, thanks to the wheels and tyres and stiffer suspension. You’ll also note that the tyres are loud. Another thing to note: The loud exhaust note, even when the sport exhaust is switched on, doesn’t make it into the cabin – as much as the target owners and drivers would like. Stand outside, though, and the roar is impressive.
It’s no surprise the Porsche Cayenne is fast, fun, and agile, words we’ve used to describe other Porsche in the past. The way it accelerates and brakes, combined with its magnificent grip and its lack of significant body roll, make this Cayenne worthy of the Porsche badge. Being the quickest SUV around is one thing, but delivering joy, confidence, adrenaline, and a raucous good time on real-world roads is what makes the Cayenne really stand out as a special premium SUV.