When Porsche presented the first Cayenne in 2002, there were those who viewed such an idea, especially Porsche purists, with great skepticism. Could the soul of a Porsche exist within the body of a rugged, versatile sport-utility vehicle or SUV? What's more, could such a vehicle even be considered a Porsche? After all, it had four doors! It seemed such a radical departure for a German car company whose sports cars had always been lightweight, nimble-handling performance machines of the highest efficiency.
Yet, Porsche engineers managed to fuse those exact qualities with those of a rugged, roomy midsize SUV. The result, as the say, became automotive history.
The Porsche Cayenne was an instant success, earning both critical praise and popular acceptance worldwide, reaching 100,000 unit sales faster than any Porsche model ever did.
With the new Cayenne, Porsche's core original SUV concept remains intact, except the German automaker further improved it.
For the 2011 year model, the Porsche Cayenne will be available in four distinctive trim levels, the base V6 and three V8-powered models: the Cayenne S, the Cayenne Turbo and the soon-to-arrive Cayenne S Hybrid. The Cayenne GTS and Turbo S models have been scratched for now.
Our tested model, the base Cayenne with V6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission with
Tiptronic, competes against other venerable midsize luxury SUVs such as the Audi Q5, Infiniti FX35, Acura MDX, the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLK 350 and the Volkswagen Touareg.
NEW, INSIDE AND OUT
The new Cayenne is lighter than its predecessor—shedding up to 364 pounds, depending on the trim level. With less mass to move, the power of the Cayenne translates into quicker acceleration, faster reflexes and shorter braking. Its 3.6-liter, naturally aspirated V6 engine uses direct fuel injection, variable-valve timing on both inlet and exhaust, and a variable-resonance intake manifold to do more with less.
The end result? The figures speak for themselves: rated at 300 horsepower with 295 foot-pounds of torque, the new Cayenne V6 with the eight-speed tranny has a top track speed of 142 miles per hour (mph) and a 0–60-mph time of 7.4 seconds, with less fuel consumption than ever before.
The 2011 Porsche Cayenne V6 has an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated fuel economy rating of 16 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.
The optional sport-tuned, eight-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic allows the driver to manually change gears either through the shift knob on the center console or through the paddles shifters on the steering wheel.
In addition to the standard 18- inch wheels and new larger brakes, the 2011 Cayenne can be fitted with the optional Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB)—for more outstanding brake performance. A key advantage of the PCCB is a total weight savings of about 50%, compared with that of equivalent cast-iron discs.
Even with the standard brakes, the new Cayenne exhibits some tremendous stopping power, achieving 60 mph to zero in just 108 feet, which is exceptional for an SUV.
BIGGER ISN'T BETTER
There is a school of thought that an SUV must be big and boxy, as if its brawny ruggedness could only come from considerable body mass. Thankfully, Porsche designers didn't attend that school.
The new Cayenne takes a more enlightened approach to marriage of sport and utility. Its taut, sleek shape is the result of Porsche's belief that form must follow the demands of function, not the whims of fashion.
The exterior of the Cayenne is unmistakably Porsche. The sharper profile exudes purpose, which is further emphasized by the dynamic rear roof pillars and fl owing coupé-like silhouette.
The elongated hood is reminiscent of Porsche race cars from the 1960s. The front-wheel arches and taut flanks are extremely well-defined, while the hood further underlines the sheer power and resolution within.
The rear-wheel arches are streamlined and muscular, while the contoured roof spoiler pays homage to the legendary Carrera GT. The tapered rear windshield and streamlined rear section underline the flared wheel arches—a design signature of the Porsche 911 sports cars—past and present.
Inside, the desire to achieve greater agility, flexibility and everyday practicality led Porsche designers to a complete redesign of the Cayenne's interior. Unlike the subdued cabin of the original Cayenne, the all-new 2011 model features an aggressive, cockpit-style layout, reminiscent of the hot-looking Porsche Panamera sports sedan.
Like other Porsches, the Cayenne features the finest interior materials you can ensemble together with excellent craftsmanship. Handsome wood, alloy trim and leather upholstery further add to the luxurious ambience. The front seats are available in three different designs, ranging from simple eight-way power adjustment to the 18-way sport seats, which feature adjustable bolsters, lumbar and seat cushion length.
The rear-cabin area is larger and more variable than before. It features split-folding seats with fore/aft adjustment and adjustable backrest angle—for extra legroom and greater comfort—a feature not typically found in five-passenger luxury SUVs.
The list of standard equipment in the Cayenne V6 includes Bluetooth hands-free phone interface, AUX-in, PartialLeather seats, climate control, a 10-speaker audio system with touchscreen, universal audio interface, cruise control and auto headlights.
The 2011 Porsche Cayenne V6 drives with a laid-back demeanor that is impressive by SUV standards. It is hard to believe you are driving a midsize SUV, as its road manners are more of a sports car, showing minimal, if any, body roll.
The Cayenne features the Porsche Traction Management (PTM) system, which combines active all-wheel drive with an electronically variable multi-plate clutch, Automatic Brake Differential (ABD) and Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR).
PTM ensures the perfect distribution of drive torque to all four wheels, whether on long straights, through tight corners or on surfaces with different friction coefficients, for dynamic handling and increased traction.