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Expert Reviews 1 of 2
By Jim Flammang
June 11, 2003
Vehicle Overview Back in the 1990s, few would have dreamed of a sport utility vehicle wearing a Porsche badge. What could the German manufacturer of high-end precision sports cars possibly want with the SUV market? Then, in 1998, Porsche announced that its designers and engineers were indeed working on an entrant into this increasingly crowded arena.
After three years of testing and a series of periodic teaser statements, Porsche introduced its SUV, curiously named the Cayenne. Just like the stimulating pepper of the same name, this luxury SUV is sure to be a hot one especially when it comes in Cayenne Turbo form with a Porsche-designed, twin-turbocharged V-8 engine that cranks out 450 horsepower. No other production SUV on the market comes close to that figure. A Cayenne S edition with a normally aspirated V-8 power plant will also be offered.
Both models will have permanent all-wheel drive (AWD), an inter-axle differential lock and additional low-range gearing. The Porsche Stability Management system will also be standard.
Porsche has been at the forefront of all-wheel-drive design, says Frederick J. Schwab, president and chief executive officer of Porsche Cars North America. The AWD concept dates all the way back to the Lohner-Porsche of 1900 and the Porsche 959 supercar in 1985. The Cayenne is a natural for us, and it will put the sport in sport utility vehicles, Schwab says.
Porsche doesnt consider its SUV to be an ordinary, AWD machine. To create a new category of vehicle is a wonderful challenge, says Design Manager Stephen Murkett. Our goal was to apply typical Porsche form and character to a sport utility vehicle combining sporting and practical attributes in one homogeneous package.
Produced at a new factory in Leipzig, Germany, the Cayenne is expected to go on sale late in 2002. About 25,000 units will be built in the first year of production, and 70 percent will be exported. Volkswagen plans to produce a related SUV named the Touareg.
At the Chicago Auto Show in February 2002, Porsche launched the Cayenne Crossing Initiative as a lead-in to the vehicles availability. Chaired by actor James Brolin, its a program designed to reclaim Americas paved and unpaved roads. Restoration efforts began in the summer of 2002.
As one might expect from Porsche, the styling of the Cayenne is distinctive. The current generation of Porsche sports cars offers us an exciting range of form vocabulary, says Murkett. The first Cayenne Turbo photo was released in March 2002, and the vehicle focuses on what the company describes as strong and powerful shoulders and large, widely spaced taillights. Like the 911 Carrera and Turbo coupes, the Cayenne exhibits what Porsche calls taut lines and tight curves [that] communicate a feeling of elegance and speed.
Distinguishing features on the Cayenne Turbo include additional front air inlets, power domes on the hood and a quartet of tailpipes at the rear. Both Cayenne models are a little more than 188 inches long and ride a 112.4-inch wheelbase. The Cayenne is 75.9 inches wide and 66.9 inches tall with a 64.8-inch front track (the distance between the wheels) and 65.4-inch rear track.
Seating for five occupants is standard, but Porsche has not yet released details on the Cayennes interior and equipment.
Under the Hood
Both models use a 4.5-liter V-8 engine that teams with a six-speed-automatic Tiptronic transmission with manual gear changes. The V-8 in the Cayenne S develops 340 hp and 310 pounds-feet of torque. The output of the Cayenne Turbo, which operates with a bi-turbo setup, escalates to 450 hp and 457 pounds-feet of torque. Permanent intelligent AWD is standard. Porsche claims that the Cayenne S can accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 7.2 seconds, while the Turbo version needs only 5.6 seconds to accomplish that task. Porsche says the Cayenne is capable of towing up to 7,716 pounds.