2011 Porsche Cayenne Expert Review:Autoblog
The Porsche Cayenne wears many hats. It masquerades as both the automaker's entry-level vehicle and as its flagship turbocharged SUV. Broad-shouldered in stature, one variant can blast to 60 mph in less than five seconds and top 170 mph, while another may be propelled quietly under the emissions-free power of electricity. Regardless of where they rank in the hierarchy, multi-talented Cayenne models are capable of traversing deep streams, towing 7,700-pound trailers and carrying five passengers and their luggage into the hands of waiting luxury hotel valets.
The six-cylinder Porsche Cayenne is hardly the automaker's crown jewel, but it's frequently one of the best-selling models in the lineup. Following on the heels of its more powerful siblings, the entry-level SUV can't hide behind its engine displacement – it must prove itself through luxury, improved performance, fuel efficiency and value.
We just spent a couple days driving the all-new Cayenne in Germany, and unlike two months ago, when we put the flagship Cayenne Turbo and the eight-cylinder Cayenne S to the test at the beautiful circuit and off-road course at Alabama's Barber Motorsports Park, the European venue gave us the opportunity to drive the entry-level Cayenne in crowded city streets and on the wide-open Autobahn. What's under the hood of the six-cylinder Cayenne, and why is it unique? How does it drive compared to its eight-cylinder siblings? Most importantly, how does it compare to its competition? Find out after the jump.
Photos by Michael Harley / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.
Porsche will offer four different Cayenne models in North American in 2011: Cayenne, Cayenne S, Cayenne Turbo and Cayenne S Hybrid. (We don't get the Cayenne Diesel, but don't get us started.) In typical Porsche fashion, the automaker introduced its top-level models first with the arrival of the eight-cylinder Cayenne S and Cayenne Turbo in May, while the just-released six-cylinder Cayenne (and the Cayenne S Hybrid) won't be unveiled at your local dealership until this Fall.
While the world is just now getting its hands on it, the arrival of the six-cylinder model has been anticipated for some time, but its powerplant specifics have been largely shrouded in mystery. With an all-new Porsche-developed 3.6-liter V6 on the table (recently fitted to the Panamera), the automaker had a choice between its own engine and an updated version of the carryover Volkswagen-sourced 3.6-liter unit. Economics won the battle, so the standard Cayenne will once again share powerplants with the Volkswagen Touareg.
Displacing 3,598 cubic centimeters, the direct-injected 10.6-degree V6 features an iron block and aluminum cylinder heads. Unlike the all-aluminum 90-degree V6 in the Panamera, the Volkswagen narrow-angle "VR6" powerplant does not have balance shafts (our calibrated rears say the Porsche V6 is slightly smoother). While the Volkswagen variant makes 280 horsepower, Porsche engineers tweaked the tuning and gifted the engine with a new intake manifold to customize it for duty in the Cayenne. The result is a bump to 300 horsepower (at 6,300 rpm) and 295 lb-ft of torque (at 3,000 rpm). Bolted to the back of the engine is a standard 6-speed manual transmission (yes, a manual transmission). We didn't get a chance to try it, as our test models were fitted with Porsche's excellent new eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission. In both cases, power is sent to all four corners of the SUV through an electronically-controlled all-wheel drive system. There is no low range case anymore, as Porsche says the lower gears are sufficient for serious off-road travel. Even with six-cylinder power, the Cayenne is rated to tow the same 7,700-pound trailer as its siblings.
Aside from the missing cylinders, the six-cylinder Cayenne models also wear slightly smaller standard brakes. The fronts are six-piston aluminum monobloc calipers (painted black) on 13.78-inch iron rotors, while the rears are four-piston calipers on 13-inch iron rotors. Porsche's composite ceramic brake (PCCB) system is optional (and obvious to everyone within eyesight with its huge metallic rotors and yellow calipers). Steel springs and gas pressurized dampers are standard, with air suspension and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) optional.
Realizing the wheel/tire/brake packages are upgradeable on all trim levels, it's difficult to tell the models apart without checking the scripted badge on the hatch or catching a glimpse of the front. It's the nose that differs. The Cayenne Turbo wears an aggressively large grille and intake, while the normally-aspirated models share smaller grilles (the V8 model is finished in black, while the V6 receives an aluminized finish). The Cayenne V6 also sports twin brushed stainless steel oval exhaust outlets, just like the Panamera V6.
The lighter powertrain pays off at the scales. The Cayenne SUV weighs just 4,399 pounds, undercutting its sibling Cayenne Turbo by nearly 400 pounds and leaving the competition in line at Jenny Craig, with the Mercedes-Benz ML350 coming in 330 pounds heavier and the six-cylinder BMW X5 lugging around an extra 531 pounds.
With the key in our left hand, we climb into a nondescript six-cylinder Cayenne wearing 19-inch wheels (wrapped with 265/50YR19 Pirelli tires). The all-new interior mirrors the elegant styling of the Panamera sedan – very upscale and meticulously finished from its beautiful wood and aluminum accents to the leather stitching on the dashboard. The seat and steering wheel are infinitely adjustable and outward visibility is good, although the backup camera does help.
As mentioned in our first driving impressions a few months ago, the Cayenne platform is incredibly enjoyable to drive. Its driving mannerism are more "big sedan" than oversized 'ute, meaning the brakes and steering are responsive to the driver's inputs, not merely taking suggestions. It doesn't feel nearly as ponderous as the Audi Q7 or as heavy as the BMW X5 when touring tight city streets.
Acknowledging that it has less mass to haul around than its predecessor, the 0-60 mph sprint now takes about 7.5 seconds, putting it decidedly mid-pack among its competitive segment. Most importantly, with excellent gearing down low, you won't miss the V8 or Turbo under 45 mph as the six-cylinder Cayenne moves off the line enthusiastically thanks to the aforementioned eight-speed Tiptronic tranny.
More than content with its performance around town, we steered the six-cylinder Cayenne towards the Autobahn to try its powertrain under more demanding conditions. As stable at high speeds as it is sitting still in a parking lot, the SUV easily held velocities between 80 and 110 mph. As expected, it does lose most of its stamina as the speed increases over 90 mph (e.g., the Cayenne Turbo rockets to 125 mph in about 13 seconds, while the Cayenne V6 does it in a longish 35 seconds). With patience, and a long open stretch of road, we were able to coax it up to an indicated 134 mph, although Porsche claims it will run 143 mph if given the opportunity. When it came time to bleed off the speed, the standard brakes were more than up to the task.
Porsche has priced the Cayenne very aggressively. The entry-level six-cylinder model starts at $46,700, making the base SUV the automaker's least expensive offering in the States. Shaving more than another second off the 0-60 sprint, the eight-cylinder Cayenne S begins at $63,700. The new Cayenne S Hybrid begins $67,700, while the flagship Cayenne Turbo has a base price of $104,800.
The assertive base price means the entry-level Cayenne is priced in the thick of its European competitors, including the six-cylinder BMW X5 ($45,800), the six-cylinder Mercedes-Benz ML-Class ($45,700) and the six-cylinder Audi Q7 ($46,900). The Porsche offers more power than the Audi and Mercedes, but BMW's new-for-2011 twin-turbo 3.0-liter under the hood of the X5 xDrive35i is stronger than the Cayenne's 3.6-liter.
Porsche does not offer a "token" third-row seating option (like BMW and Audi), but its second-row seats slide on rails and the seatbacks recline/fold making the interior both accommodating and very configurable. To its dynamic advantage, the Porsche has the most modern and lightest platform. And, thanks to its Panamera-inspired interior, the Cayenne's cockpit is arguably the most luxurious and inviting of the foursome, too.
But we wouldn't buy the six-cylinder Porsche Cayenne for its engine.
Despite the fact there's nothing inherently wrong with the lesser power unit – it's more than competent – Porsche offers much better combustion routes if you are seeking pavement-pummeling power and a hybrid option if you are on a quest for fuel economy. Instead, consider the entry-level 3.6-liter V6 variant as a heavily discounted way to enjoy the Cayenne's silky eight-speed Tiptronic, bulletproof platform, refined chassis dynamics, luxurious cabin amenities, surefooted all-wheel drive, accurate steering feel and impressive braking capabilities at less than half the cost of the Cayenne Turbo.
The Panamera sedan is currently basking in the brand's sales-leading spotlight, yet the Cayenne will undoubtedly take back its top position when all the models fill the showrooms later this year. Unlike its predecessor, whose owners were often accused of driving the overweight SUV solely for the polished gold, maroon and black badge emblazoned on the hood, the new six-cylinder model is an agile, attractive and well-mannered gentleman. While it may not run as quickly as its athletic siblings, this Cayenne is stout enough to be distinctive on its own – with or without the Porsche crest leading its way.
Photos by Michael Harley / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.
New Car Test Drive
New technology, new Hybrid, V6 models.
The Porsche Cayenne SUV has generated huge amounts of cash, enabling Porsche to return to racing and expand its sports car lineup with more variants of the 911, Boxster and Cayman sports cars. The Cayenne is the company's best-selling model ever, with 282,000 vehicles sold as of the end of July 2010.
For 2011, Porsche Cayenne receives significant changes, plus new V6 and Hybrid models, in addition to the V8 and turbocharged V8 models. Porsche Cayenne competes against the Range Rover, the BMW X5 and X6, and the Mercedes-Benz ML 50 and ML63 AMG, depending on model and engine.
The 2011 Cayenne has all-new front, side and rear appearance. Through careful application of engineering, the 2011 Cayenne is an astounding 400 pounds lighter than the previous-generation even though it is better equipped and two inches longer overall. The 2011 Cayenne hood, doors, and decklid are all made of aluminum.
New technology added to the 2011 Cayenne includes a new lightweight all-wheel-drive system with a multi-plate clutch to manage torque between the front and rear axles, eliminating the normal reduction gearbox and saving 73 pounds of weight.
While the entry level Cayenne has a 300-horspower 3.6-liter V6 engine, the new 8-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission makes it approximately 20 percent more fuel efficient than the previous model.
The 2011 Cayenne S with its 4.8-liter V8 also has a significant decrease in fuel consumption, down by 23 percent on the European driving cycle, with engine output now 400 horsepower compared to 385 horsepower in the previous Cayenne S.
The pinnacle model, the 2011 Cayenne Turbo with the 500-horsepower, twin-turbocharged, 4.8-liter V8 is also 23 percent more fuel-efficient than its predecessor.
Porsche's new 8-speed Tiptronic S transmission with wide gear ratios contributes to fuel economy, along with the Automatic Start Stop function first introduced on the Panamera, efficient thermal management of engine and transmission cooling, on-board electrical network recuperation, deceleration fuel cut-off and lightweight construction.
Another new technology is Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTVP). PTV Plus uses variable torque distribution on the rear wheels as well as an electronically controlled rear axle differential lock, increasing both driving dynamics and stability in curves. The system automatically brakes the inside rear wheel in turns and racetrack corners in order to make the Cayenne turn in like a race car. We drove Cayenne S models first without and then with the system at Barber Motorsports Park, home of the Porsche Sport Driving School in Alabama, and the difference in cornering performance was dramatic.
The Cayenne S Hybrid, after some three and a half years in development, uses a supercharged version of the VW/Audi 3.0-liter V6 engine, generating 333 horsepower, with a 47-horspower electric motor added in for a total of 380 horsepower and a total of 428 foot-pounds of torque at just 1000 rpm. close to the output of the 4.8-liter V8 engine in the regular S model. Porsche says the Cayenne Hybrid will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, and reach 150 mph. It's the cleanest, greenest model in Porsche history at 193 gram of CO per kilometer on the European testing cycle.
The hybrid system uses a 288-volt nickel metal-hydride (NiMh) Sanyo battery fitted beneath the luggage compartment and regenerative braking, the process of storing electricity regained from applying the brakes and driving under normal conditions. Porsche's very first hybrid system has an E-mode switch, which can operate the vehicle entirely on electricity in slow-moving commuting situations up to 37 mph (we actually saw 41 mph going downhill).
In the sailing mode, which can operate up to 97 mph, both the engine and electric motor shut off completely, and the vehicle also shuts down every time it comes to a stop, with regenerative braking to recharge the battery. The battery charging system, developed with battery partner Sanyo, keeps the charge between 45 and 75 percent.
The Cayenne S Hybrid is a full parallel hybrid, meaning that it can operate on electricity, gasoline, or both, and uses the standard 8-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission. The electric motor and the decoupler or clutch mechanism are placed ahead of the transmission. The system incorporates hill descent control as well as a hill-holder.
Porsche estimates that the Cayenne S hybrid will achieve 21 miles per gallon in the city (a 30 percent improvement compared to the V8-powered S version) and 25 miles per gallon on the highway.
All Cayenne models except the Turbo come with steel suspension as standard equipment, but for the first time it can be combined with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) as an option. PASM is a highly sophisticated system providing active, infinite damper control on the front and rear axle. It offers the choice of the three settings: Comfort, Normal and Sport.
The Cayenne Turbo comes with a new air suspension system with PASM standard. Any 2011 Cayenne can be ordered with Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC), an optional system that actively stabilizes the vehicle through dynamic distribution of roll forces.
The 2011 Porsche Cayenne lineup includes Cayenne V6 ($47,600), Cayenne S ($63,700), Caynne S Hybrid ($67,700), and Cayenne Turbo ($104,800). (All New Car Test Drive prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices, which do not include destination charge and may change at any time without notice.).
The 2011 Cayenne has all-new front, side and rear appearance.
The Cayenne is easily identifiable as a Porsche with design cues shared with the 911 and Panamera. The more powerful models have functional design cues indicating higher levels of performance. The Cayenne Turbo is distinguished by larger grilles that increase the amount of air flowing through the engine bay.
The Cayenne is not small, measuring nearly 191 inches in length. That's about the same length as the current BMW X5 (191.2 inches) and Mercedes M-Class (188.5 inches). Cayenne is 75.9 inches wide, about the same as the X5 (76.1 inches) or a half-inch wider than M-Class (75.2 inches). Cayenne's wheelbase measures 114 inches.
In size, Cayenne most closely matches Volkswagen's Touareg, which is no surprise given the two vehicles were developed jointly by Porsche and VW. Engines and other Cayenne components are built by Porsche in Zuffenhausen, Germany, and mated to the Cayenne at an assembly plant in Leipzig. Cayenne, Touareg, and the Audi Q7 share basic structures, though the Audi is stretched for more passenger space. Engine and suspension tuning, styling and all the finish work were the separate responsibility of each manufacturer.
The 2011 Cayenne is 400 pounds lighter than the previous-generation even though it is better equipped and two inches longer overall. The 2011 Cayenne hood, doors, and decklid are made of aluminum.
Inside, the 2011 Cayenne features a high center console that, like the Panamera's, rises up to meet the center stack with a touch-screen infotainment interface to provide a cockpit environment. The center console grab handles that were a trademark of the original Cayenne are still there, with a new design.
Rear-seat room is more generous, thanks to the 1.6-inch extended wheelbase for 2011. The second seat now slides fore-and-aft by 6.3 inches, and the backrest can be adjusted to three different angles, or up to 6 degrees.
Porsche's traditional five round-instrument gauge cluster now includes a high-resolution circular 4.8-inch TFT screen to the right of the tach. It can be used to change radio stations, vehicle settings, access the navigation system or view the map.
The Cayenne S Hybrid instrument cluster differs as the instruments provide the driver with all information he or she needs to monitor car's innovative hybrid system and maximize its efficiencies.
The 2011 Cayenne comes with the same audio and communication systems found in the Panamera, with a standard Bose Surround Sound and the optional Burmester high-end Surround Sound System. All U.S. Cayenne models include Bluetooth telephone connectivity and an audio interface to connect an iPod or a USB stick with the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system as standard equipment. Servotronic speed-sensitive power steering and a moonroof are standard on the Cayenne S, Cayenne S Hybrid and Cayenne Turbo.
During our time in and around Birmingham, Alabama, and at Barber Motorsports Park, we were able to drive the Hybrid, Turbo and S versions of the Cayenne, and we came away impressed.
The Cayenne in any form is a wonderful, quiet, plush, and luxurious highway cruiser, but the V8 S version and the Turbo will find their way around a racetrack with amazing alacrity, very little body lean in hard corners, and no bad behavior. The Turbo version is rated by Porsche to run the 0-60 mph sprint in a mere 4.4 seconds, and has a top speed of 172 mph, about 50 mph higher than a typical SUV. There are very few twin-turbocharged, direct-injection V8 engines in the SUV world, and this one generates 500 horsepower and 516 foot-pounds of torque, which gives the Cayenne absolutely breathtaking performance, but also allows towing of over 7700 pounds.
The highway cruising behavior of any of the Cayenne models is exemplary. The air spring suspension and the big tires act together as giant shock absorbers for whatever dips, ruts, hole and bumps are in the road.
The brakes on the Cayenne are enormous, with six-pistons calipers up front and four-piston calipers at the rear, with 15.3-inch front discs and 14-inch rear discs, enough braking power to stop a freight train on a dime.
The hybrid version is meant to be clean and green without being boring or underpowered, and Porsche has done a wonderful job mating a real engine, a real transmission (instead of a CVT), and a clever hybrid package of battery, motor, charging system and electronic controls.
The Porsche Dynamic Light System (PDLS) is a further development of the existing Bi-Xenon light system that offers not only dynamic and static cornering lights, but also continuous light leveling and speed-sensitive headlight control with separate modes for roads and interstates. The system is standard on the Cayenne Turbo and an option on the other models.
The new Lane Change Assistant (LCA) monitors traffic in the adjacent lanes up to 230 feet behind the vehicle, including the driver's blind spots. As soon as another vehicle enters the blind spots or approaches rapidly from behind within a range of 180 feet, an LED warning light illuminates on the inside of the corresponding exterior mirror. If the driver uses the turn signal, the flashing light appears to alert the driver of the approaching vehicle.
Adaptive Cruise Control uses radar to monitor and maintain the preset distance between the Cayenne and vehicles in front of it by restricting the throttle or applying the brakes. If the vehicle in front decelerates, ACC will continue to reduce speed, all the way down to a complete stop. ACC operates at speeds from 20 to 100 mph. The required braking power is calculated by the system and by Porsche Stability Management (PSM) building up brake pressure. If the distance between the Cayenne and the vehicle ahead becomes too small, the system alerts the brake standby function to shorten the stopping distance required. It also pre-fills the brake system for quicker response and gives the driver both a visual and an acoustic warning and an additional brake pulse.
The Cayenne was designed by a sports car specialist company to be the sports car of luxury SUVs, and this second generation Cayenne in all its forms is a superlative driving machine, whether for everyday trips to drop off the kids at school to very serious off-roading to cross-country family jaunts. The total safety and chassis control package is as good as it gets. It's beautiful, comfortable, and capable, well beyond most people's driving skills on a race track, but it won't beat you up on a long Interstate Highway trip. Possibly the best high-performance SUV there is.
Jim McCraw filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com from Birmingham, Alabama.
Porsche Cayenne ($46,700); Cayenne S ($63,700); Cayenne Hybrid ($67,700); Cayenne Turbo ($104,800).
Options As Tested
Porsche Cayenne Turbo ($104,800).