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Expert Reviews 1 of 6
By Jim Flammang
August 27, 2003
Vehicle Overview In March 2003, Porsche finally introduced its eagerly awaited Cayenne sport utility vehicle. Just like the stimulating pepper of the same name, this luxury midsize SUV ranks as a hot one, especially when its the Cayenne Turbo, which achieves 450 horsepower from its Porsche-designed, twin-turbocharged V-8 engine. A 340-hp Cayenne S is also offered.
Both models have permanent all-wheel drive, an inter-axle differential lock and additional Low-range gearing. Porsches Stability Management System is standard.
The Cayenne is produced at a new factory in Leipzig, Germany. It is the first Porsche suitable for everyday use, says Gary Fong, the companys product publicity specialist. Because of its midseason debut, few changes are expected for 2004, but driver-activated anti-roll bars will likely be available. Volkswagen has introduced a related SUV named the Touareg.
Even though the Cayennes styling is distinctive, its front is reminiscent of the automakers 911 sports car. Its appearance focuses on what the company describes as strong and powerful shoulders and large, widely spaced taillights. Like the 911 coupes, the Cayenne exhibits what Porsche calls taut lines and tight curves that communicate a feeling of elegance and speed.
The Cayenne Turbo gets additional front air inlets, power domes on the hood and a quartet of tailpipes at the rear. Both models are a little more than 188 inches long overall and ride a 112.4-inch wheelbase. Pneumatic suspensions adjust to six height levels, from 6.1 to 10.75 inches. Cayennes are available with 18- , 19- or 20-inch wheels.
Seating for five people on leather seating surfaces is standard; full leather seats are available. Front and rear parking assistance is included. Cargo capacity totals 19.2 cubic feet and expands to 62.5 cubic feet when the backseat is folded.
Under the Hood
Both models use a 4.5-liter V-8 engine. The power plant teams with a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission that has manual gear change provision. The V-8 in the Cayenne S develops 340 hp and 310 pounds-feet of torque. With its bi-turbo setup, the Cayenne Turbo escalates to 450 hp and 457 pounds-feet of torque. Porsche claims the Cayenne Turbo can accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 5.6 seconds. Permanent intelligent all-wheel drive is standard on both models. A rocker switch engages Low-range gearing. The Cayennes towing capacity is 7,716 pounds.
Seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side curtain-type airbags are standard in both models.
Both Cayenne models are refined, civilized and muscular, but their performance personalities differ as much as their prices. Acceleration from a standstill is downright startling in the Cayenne Turbo. Passing and merging response is less consistent sometimes ferociously fast, but occasionally hesitant at lower speeds. Tiptronic shifts are barely noticeable, especially in the upper gears. In Sport mode, you can feel a bit of motion transmitted from the road but never a hint of less-than-perfect control.
The Cayennes handling could hardly be better. Reactions are quick, certain and confident. The seats are firmly excellent, with keep-you-in-place bolstering and long bottoms for superior thigh support.
Performance is strong in the Cayenne S, but its definitely not in the same league as the Turbo. The Cayenne S has a similar hesitation from the transmission when cornering, but its about as surefooted and confident as its more costly brother. Its fittings are less flamboyant than the Turbos.