Porsche is a well known performance oriented sports car manufacturer. Now these track focused sports cars can’t be enjoyed on a daily basis, especially in the Indian road conditions. So the Stuttgart based manufacturer thought out of the box and came up with the Porsche Cayenne. It is a Porsche badged utility vehicle that intends to offer everyday practicality with the ability to take on rough terrains and provide comfort on long highway runs. The Cayenne is presently in its second generation and today we check out whether the premium luxury SUV justifies the legendary Porsche badge sitting on the hood.
Motor Quest: Porsche launched the Cayenne in 2002 and the vehicle shares its platform and frame with the Volkswagen Touareg. However the design, tuning and manufacturing is done by Porsche independently.
Exteriors – The Porsche Cayenne continues the same design philosophy as seen on its charming sports car sisters. The no-nonsense styling reflects the bold and brave characteristics of the Stuttgart made SUV. If you notice, it doesn’t have those sharp and loud lines running across the body, instead the Cayenne boasts of a smooth and flamboyant design tone, which looks distinctive in today’s day and age. The front fascia gets a muscular v-shaped bonnet supported by pearl drop shaped headlamps. The bumper gets integrated LED daytime running lights, wide air inlets along with conventionally placed fog lamps.
The side profile of the Porsche Cayenne is treated with a simple yet broad shoulder. You get a neat set of 10-spoke alloy wheels. The window frames are outlined in thin chrome for a premium touch and the roofline gets tipped with a chunky spoiler at the end. The rear profile of the Cayenne is dominated by the huge set of tail lights, which grabs massive attention with its LED detailing. It has a bulbous tail gate reading Porsche Cayenne just above the number plate housing. The tail gate lip gets a silver finished garnish and the rear bumper brags about the rectangular shaped dual exhaust tips.
Interiors – The cabin of the Porsche Cayenne is a place of content. Step inside and the dashboard layout lifts your mood. Vertically stacked AC vents finished in brushed aluminium grabs your attention within seconds and chills the cabin at the same speed. You will find a mix of brown, beige, silver and wood at the same time, which looks rich and feels premium. The quality of materials used and the fit and finish level is supreme. The steering wheel is indeed good to hold and features unconventional thumb paddle shifts but lacks audio controls (optional).
The five round instruments complete the traditional Porsche cluster behind the wheel, which shows all the necessary details regarding the vehicle. The footwell is wide and very comfortable for long drives. The centre console is ample and long that features a 7-inch touchscreen with high end connectivity and multimedia functions that churns out good quality sound. There are a host of buttons on the centre console to toggle between performance modes, dual zone AC controls and similar functions. You will also notice uniquely designed grab handles in between, which are also found on all the four doors.
Plenty of stowage space is provided for knick knacks and bottles to keep the interior neat and tidy. Flick your eyes upwards and you will find an endless panoramic glass roof, which gives you a sense of roominess. Moving to the rear finds you a relaxed seating position with immense support and room to do long highway runs. Because of the transmission hump and contoured middle seat, the third passenger would feel a bit uneasy. The boot space is ample enough to carry a dozen of travel bags.
Performance – The Porsche Cayenne is offered in India with two petrol and two diesel engine options. This specific model comes with a 6-cylinder, 3.0-litre turbo diesel engine that produces 245 BHP of power and 550 Nm of torque. It is the same diesel unit, which is also found in the Audi Q7 and Volkswagen Touareg. The engine is proactive, which delivers outright performance when needed. There is no turbo lag in the initial revs and the entire range is an ocean full of torque. Playing hard with the throttle will push you back with the amount of thrust it provides. The Cayenne is a quick revving oil burner, unlike most of the diesel engines. 100 km/hr from standstill comes up in 7.6 seconds, which is only 0.3 seconds quicker than the Mercedes GL-Class that weighs almost the same.
The Porsche Cayenne can rev up to 4600 RPM seamlessly after which the V6 thrum gets prominent. Otherwise, the engine makes just a whistle in the mid-range which is almost inaudible in the cabin because of the superior NVH levels. The Cayenne is an impressive cruiser too. 140 km/hr constant speed is a cake walk on the highways. Mated to this engine is a 8-speed Triptonic S automatic transmission, which can be controlled via steering mounted paddle shifts. At 100 km/hr in the top gear, the rev meter ticks at around 1600 RPM. The gearbox is smart enough to provide you with optimum performance and frugal city driving. With a light foot, it changes cogs secretly without letting you notice. Once aggressive throttle input is provided, there is a thin lag in downshifting, post which it extracts the most out of the engine until the redline before upshifting. The engine returns an impressive overall mileage of around 13.88 km/l.
Driving Dynamics – When you think of a Porsche it means cutting edge driving pleasure. Same is the case with the Cayenne despite being a big brute SUV. You sit high above the ground yet the Porsche DNA follows. It is the best handling SUV hands down. Hit a set of winding tarmac and the cornering capabilities of the Cayenne will boost your morale to a big extent. The steering feedback is spot on, which can even give some low slung sedans a run for their money. The steering feels lively off the centre and adapts very well according to the speed. It masters the corners with relatively less inputs. Body roll is literally minimal that won’t annoy the passengers when you spin around the ghat sections.
Of course all the fun comes when the Sport mode is engaged via the toggle switch placed near the gear lever. You have to compromise on the ride quality for the sporty feedback. In the Sport mode, ride quality is stiff and is best used on smooth tarmac. Switching to the Normal mode eases out the sharp section of roads but still feels on the stiffer side. The Comfort mode handles the potholes like a boss but the steering feedback gets gentle and there is a bit more pronounced body roll. Off-road capabilities you ask? It is as impressive as it performs on the road. The Cayenne is equipped with permanent all-wheel drive with self-locking center differential, automatic limited-slip differential and traction-slip control with variable rear torque split. The differentials and height of the SUV can be controlled via toggle switches. Just give the Cayenne a direction and it crawls on the toughest terrains.