Text: GG van Rooyen
It’s easy to dislike the Cayenne, especially if you’re a Porsche purist. In fact, if you’re a lover of the German automaker’s sports cars you probably view the very existence of the Cayenne as an insult.
What, after all, is the point of wrapping the instantly-recognisable bodywork of a Porsche around the hulking frame of an SUV? It just looks odd. When it first appeared, the vehicle was mercilessly criticised for its appearance.
And what is the point of dropping a Porsche engine that’s been carefully designed and crafted into a body that weighs significantly north of 2000kg?
On paper, it seems like a bad move. Behind the wheel, however, it makes glorious sense. Porsche insists that the Cayenne is a sports car that looks like an SUV and once you drive the vehicle, you realise it’s true.
The latest generation of the Cayenne is thrilling to drive, mostly due to the fact that it boasts Porsche’s typical handling and driving dynamics. Despite its weight and gargantuan size, it handles corners impeccably. In fact, its ability to cling to tarmac is a bit disconcerting at times. You’ll probably lose your nerve long before the vehicle loses its grip.
The new Cayenne also looks smaller and lower than the old one, but it’s not. When the first spy shots of the latest Cayenne surfaced on the internet, loads of people commented on the fact that its size had been reduced.
They were wrong. The vehicle is longer and wider, but the overall shape hides this fact.
It’s worth noting that the company’s subtle tweaking of the exterior has improved the Cayenne’s appearance. It’s still not the prettiest pony in the Porsche stable, but it is a definite improvement over the old model.
Another new development (and one that will undoubtedly add to the frustration of purists) is the introduction of a hybrid model. The Cayenne is the first Porsche to sport a hybrid powerplant, and it won’t be the last.
Others are on the way.
Aficionados can take solace from the fact that this isn’t a humdrum hybrid – it’s a supercharged three-litre V6 that generates 279kW of power, but drinks 8,2 litres of fuel per 100km. They’ll also be pleased to discover that two 4,8-litre V8 versions are still available: the Cayenne S and the Cayenne Turbo. Needless to say, both are great fun. The S creates 294 kW of power and is incredibly precise. It truly handles like a sports car.
The Turbo, however, is in a league of its own. Strapping a fine-tuned engine that generates 368 kW to an SUV is so wonderfully absurd that you have to admire Porsche’s audacity in doing it. But it retails at R1 430 000, and that’s a bit steep for most people.
Thankfully, there are cheaper models. And these are by far the best value-for-money options.
The standard Cayenne Tiptronic retails at R645 000 and has a three-litre engine that creates 220kW. The diesel model retails at R680 000 and offers 176 kW. Fuel consumption is claimed at 7,4 litres per 100km.
From the figures, they might not seem particularly powerful, but they are a joy to drive. They boast more than enough oomph, excellent handling and all the accoutrements one could ask for. And considering that they retail below R700 000, they are competitively priced – relatively speaking. In fact, buying a Porsche might be the sensible option when shopping in this segment. No wonder purists hate it.
PORSCHE CAYENNE PRICES
Cayenne Tiptronic R645 000
Cayenne Diesel Tiptronic R680 000
Cayenne S Tiptronic R775 000
Cayenne S Hybrid Tiptronic R830 000
Cayenne Turbo Tiptronic R1 430 000