MT. TREMBLANT, Que. — Premium/luxury car sales have been flat for the last few years. But premium, mid-size utility vehicles are hot.
Sales have grown 23 per cent in the same period. Porsche launched the third-generation Cayenne into this scene last year. Now it is adding S and Turbo versions in North America.
Just as it has done with the 911 sports car, Porsche has steered clear of radical visual change.
The most obvious difference comes at the rear, where a seamless lighting strip spans the full width of the vehicle.
Standing side-by-side with the older model the new Cayenne is more hunkered down. It is 25 mm lower, 29 mm wider and 63 mm longer. It is also 65 kilos lighter despite a raft of new standard equipment and additional sound deadening.
Everything about the new Cayenne is new. Every piece of sheet metal, including fenders, hood, doors, roof and tailgate is made from aluminum. The chassis is new, as are the engines and transmission.
The most dramatic change lies inside. Nothing will be familiar to current owners, except the grab handles.
The instrument panel continues to place the tachometer in the centre flanked by a quartet of gauges.
There is a massive, 31-cm-wide, high-resolution screen in the centre of the dash for infotainment functions.
All those buttons on the centre console, have been replaced by a single flat panel with touch controls.
Since this is a Porsche, let’s look at the parts that matter — the engine, suspension and brakes.
The Cayenne S has a new 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 producing 434-horsepower and 406 lb.-ft. of torque. It replaces the 420-horsepower, 3.6-litre unit used previously.
The Turbo model gets a 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 used in the Panamera. It puts out 541-horsepower and 568 lb.-ft. of torque. It can propel the Cayenne from rest to 100 km/h in less than four seconds. The outgoing Turbo had a 4.8-litre eight.
Up front, the double wishbones have been replaced by a new multi-link arrangement. The track has grown 44 mm.
Staggered (front/rear) width wheels are used across all model and trim levels ranging from 19-22 inches in diameter.
A three-chamber air suspension is standard on the Turbo, and available on the S. Rear axle steering, as used on the Panamera, has been brought to the Cayenne. Porsche’s dynamic chassis control system uses active roll bars to keep the vehicle flat in the corners.
A 48V electrical subsystem adjusts the anti-roll bars to counter roll or dive.
Porsche is known for its powerful and fade-free brakes. The new Cayenne S comes with six-piston calipers up front clamping 390-mm discs, and four-pistons and 330-mm discs at the rear.
The Turbo model gets gigantic 415-mm discs in front clamped by 10-piston calipers. The rears are 365-mm in diameter, and four pistons apply the pressure.
The Turbo is available with the latest advance in braking technology — Porsche surface coated brakes. The cast-iron discs have an elaborately-applied tungsten-carbide coating.
They promise faster response, greater friction, all-but-complete lack of brake dust and 30 per cent longer life. Once broken in, they gleam with a smooth mirror-like finish.
To emphasize the lack of dust, the calipers have a pure white finish. They will set you back about $3,900 in the S and are standard on the Turbo.
Adaptive roof spoiler
Another piece of technology brought over from the Panamera is a four-mode adaptive roof spoiler. It lies flat for maximum aerodynamics, rises slightly to minimize buffeting at speeds greater than 160 km/h. And to full height to act as an air brake.
I have a thing for headlights. As one who has taught and preached the need to look well down the road, darkness and headlights have been a problem.
The gradual move from tungsten to halogen, to HID, and most recently LEDs, as light sources has been appreciated.
A few years back, in a test lab in Germany I witnessed nirvana — headlights consisting of dozens of LEDs, all of which could be individually activated. This allowed the use of camera and radar technology to shine light where it was needed — and extinguish it where it was not.
Antiquated North American regulations had prohibited their use — until now.
Canadian regulations have been updated to allow partial beam technology. Porsche will offer its new MatrixBeam headlights later this year. Each headlights will contain 84 individual LEDs.
When the light beam strikes a pedestrian, bicycle or the front or rear of another vehicle, the system will, within milliseconds, turn off the LEDs casting the offending light. All others LEDs will remain on, providing light further down the intended path without shining onto other vehicles.
American vehicle lighting regulations remain mired in the dark ages.
Other innovations introduced with the new Cayenne include Porsche’s spin on adaptive cruise control, HUD, and park assist. Porsche InnoDrive not only maintains a set distance between you and the vehicle in front, but when there is no one in front, it looks up to two kilometres down the road and adapts to turns and hills, even activating the stop/start system and shutting down the engine and coasting to save fuel when possible.
Porsche’s four-mode heads-up display system utilizes a much smaller package and lasers. Remote park assist will provide automatic parallel parking, but also the ability to park your Porsche in extremely tight spaces, while you stand outside.
The conditions for the drive at the introduction here of the Cayenne S and Turbo did not permit sampling their promised prowess. The thermometer was flirting with minus 20, there was a continual light snowfall, and not a single patch of clear road was encountered all day.
The air suspension did an excellent job of smoothing out the ride as we passed over poorly-plowed roads and slabs of ice.
It was impossible to sample the additional power and braking. However, the all-wheel-drive, stability, traction and related controls did provide a level of stress-free security that allowed us to push the limits.
- Model: 2019 Porsche Cayenne Turbo
- Engine: twin-turbo, 4.0-litre V8, 541 horsepower, 568 lb.-ft. of torque, premium fuel
- Transmission: eight-speed automatic; full-time all-wheel drive
- NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 11.7 combined
- Length: 4,926 mm
- Width: 2,194 mm
- Weight: 2,175 kg
- Price: $139,700 base, $183,220 including freight
- Options on test vehicle: two-tone leather interior, $500; rear axle steering, $1,840; sport exhaust, $3,670; Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport, $4,090; power rear window sun blinds,$520; 22-inch sport classic wheels in satin platinum, $4,630; heated windshield, $560; Sport Chrono package, $1,280; adaptive cruise control, $2,280; night vision assist, $2,750; Burmeister high-end surround sound system, $6,620; seat belts in Bordeaux red, $750; heads-up display, $1,960, ParkAssist, front and rear including surround view, $1,360; Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus, $1,700; lane keep assist, $790; window trim in gloss black, $300; premium plus package, $5,690; ventilated front and rear seats, $97