By Michael Tashjian
Fourteen short years ago, the world of Porsche was rocked when its fans heard that their beloved sports car purveyor was delving into the fashionable, luxury SUV space. Still in its infancy with only BMW and Mercedes Benz having a piece of i, it was a wisely calculated gamble from our friends in Stuttgart. In years prior, companies like Chrysler and Ford made a killing in the minivan market and SUVs were now the obvious replacement. Fourteen years later, it is safe to say that the executives at Porsche are heroes in both the eyes of shareholders and enthusiasts, alike.
The Generation 1 2003 Cayenne was equivalent to the Panzer tank, no doubt about it: robust, with an understated silhouette, limited gadgets, and 18’’ wheels that could take the pounding of NYC streets. Sure there were a few inherent issues like coolant line failures, rear trunks that would smack you in that little point on your skull that would knock you border line unconscious, and side marker faulty lights that beep still today, but overall, it was a great package. I myself had to wait 14 years for another Cayenne to come along that tickled my fancy. Generation 2 was, quite frankly, lacking innovation in my eyes. Maybe it needed a touch more interior sophistication that most any Porsche automobile should possess? And then, Generation 3 came along. Ahh, a new beginning! At first glance, there is a lot of glitz and glam. But believe it or not, all of those little buttons and pretty little screens on the dashboard actually do serve a purpose outside of impressing the date your trying to convince that evening.
The new Cayenne is as capable of an off-road SUV as it is a serious performance car. Having had the opportunity to test the Cayenne, S, Hybrid, Turbo, and exclusive Turbo S (MSRP 221K loaded), I can tell you that each of these models is worth its weight in gold. Okay, maybe I am getting a little carried away with myself.
Many…scratch that, very, very few us will ever be racing up Pikes Peak or negotiating a 70% decline with our Cayenne. But does that really matter? We would not argue that the 205 mph GT2RS is not a necessity, so the reality is that although the new Cayenne looks pretty and decadent, the technologies it possesses are second to none in the high-end luxury SUV space and provide a rugged off-road purpose. When choosing the off-road mode that best suits the adventure you’re about to embark on, you can choose to fully lock the multi-plate clutch, which from experience, sends the car up whatever (and I do mean, whatever) may lie ahead. Further, the electronically controlled rear differential included in PTV Plus can be fully locked in an additional mode. Brake assisted hill decent, air suspension and a slew of control provide the driver with effortless and limitless possibilities. Outside of a tree taking you out, there’s not much stopping the new Cayenne.
Wow! The Turbo and Turbo S alike are completely insane on the track. I kid not, the new Cayenne Turbo takes turns like a Cayman, brakes like a 911 and takes off like no other SUV I have ever driven. Gliding around a right-hander at 110 mph is confidence inspiring, and taking brake point 2, although it seems suicidal at first, is child’s play by lap two. PDDC Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control which reduces roll along with Porsche Torque Vectoring which, depending on the steering angle and steering speed, accelerator pedal position, yaw rate and vehicle speed, optimizes steering response and precision by selectively applying brake pressure to the left or right rear wheel. It is an effort to get the car to break away, even on polished payment with 2’’ of ice. Your right foot is wondering why your slamming down the accelerator over and over and I have no doubt that the car is also asking the same question.
Porsche exclusive has gone above and beyond in this department. There is a considerable difference in leather quality, as well as all carbon/aluminum/wood. I was fortunate enough to test a fully loaded Cayenne Turbo S that had every possible option: leather dash with deviated stitching; leather air vents and leather wrapped vent slates; two-tone seats; even a leather rear view mirror. It would take up the entirety of my allotted two pages to go through each of them. Let’s just say it gloriously smelled like the Dunhill flagship store on Madison Ave. The 18-way Adaptive space shuttle seats are comfortable enough that if you spent every penny you have on the options, you could still live happily in it with a family of four without a single complaint. The overall environment spews affluence and success. Trump would be the perfect spokesman for the car as it is clearly for a winner. As for me, I would be hard pressed to drop 221K on an SUV, but clearly there is a market for this type of exclusive, handcrafted interior. I could deal with the extended leather package along with 18-way seats and be content.
Buy one. When deciding on your next SUV, whether coming out of a Range Rover Supercharged, Mercedes Benz AMG or BMW 5.0, ask yourself, ‘What is my driving purpose?’. If your answer is that you’re looking for an exhilarating ride while not compromising on reliability, then the Cayenne is for you. Another added benefit is the residual value on the Cayenne as opposed to all other SUV’s on the market today. Dollar for dollar, you cannot beat it against any other mark.
by Michael Tashjian
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