2008 Cayenne New Car Test Drive
When the Porsche Cayenne was launched four years ago enthusiasts cried blasphemy. Porsche should not build sport-utilities, they said, Porsche should build sports cars. But buyers won the vote. Cayenne had what they needed in a five-passenger SUV: more cargo space than a sedan, off-highway capability, and impressive towing capacity. They found the Cayenne technologically advanced and remarkably fast, as Porsches are supposed to be. So, they wondered, why all the hand wringing?
Cayenne's balance of style, performance, and sport-utility virtues were compelling, and it quickly became a success story for the small manufacturer of legendary sports cars. When Porsche launched Cayenne as a 2003 model, executives said they hoped to sell 20,000 of the SUVs a year. Clearly, these projections were conservative. Last year, Porsche sold more than 50,000 Cayennes. More than 150,000 have been sold in the past four years. Now, redesigned for 2008, sales of the new version have taken off, and overall Porsche sales in the U.S. hit record levels the summer of 2007. The Cayenne has been a boon for Porsche's financial planning. Its ongoing success smoothes over wildly fluctuating sports car sales, which tend to follow the consumer confidence index. Cayenne's success is helping Porsche do what enthusiasts want: develop and build great sports cars. Enough hand-wringing already.
For 2008, the Porsche Cayenne has been significantly improved, and Porsche is calling it a second-generation version. We can report the driving dynamics of the 2008 Cayenne models are substantially improved over the high bar set by the previous models. This was accomplished by using the latest technology and high-quality engineering and manufacturing. Porsche Stability Management has been enhanced, Dynamic Chassis Control is available, and there's a new Sport mode available for all models and powertrains.
Each of Cayenne's three available engines is bigger and substantially more powerful for 2008. Benefiting from direct fuel injection, each engine is more fuel-efficient, as well, though on the window stickers it's a wash due to more stringent EPA test procedures instituted for all 2008 vehicles.
Grabbing headlines is the 2008 Porsche Cayenne Turbo, boasting 500 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque from its new twin-turbocharged 4.8-liter V8 and capable of propelling this SUV from 0-60 mph in just 5.1 seconds. It's faster and more dynamic than the previous Cayenne Turbo.
But the bigger gain, in our view, is with the entry model, which comes with a new 3.6-liter V6 that produces 290 horsepower and 283 pound-feet of torque, capable of propelling it from 0 to 60 mph in less than 8 seconds (and in 7.5 seconds when equipped with the standard six-speed manual transmission).
The popular Cayenne S gets more power, as well, serving up 385 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque from its new 4.8-liter V8.
More important than the new engines (though less useful for bragging rights) are advances in active safety: An available system called Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control nearly eliminates body roll, or lean, in turns, improving handling, comfort, and active safety, while providing enhanced off-pavement traction. A Cayenne going flat-out through a fast corner with this system looks like it's on rails. A Cayenne without this system struggles to keep up, heeled over and moving around in the turn. Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control includes active anti-roll bars, which are designed to compensate off pavement, as well. All Cayennes come with Porsche Stability Management, Trailer Stability Control, off-road ABS, and other technologies that make drivers look like heroes.
Braking has been improved for 2008. Massive new brakes were developed by Porsche to reduce fade, the tendency of brakes to lose effectiveness in repeated hard use. This is important when descending long mountain grades.
We found the 2008 Porsche Cayenne enjoyable to dri.
The 2008 Porsche Cayenne lineup features three models: Cayenne ($43,400), Cayenne S ($57,900), and Cayenne Turbo ($93,700). All models come standard with full-time all-wheel drive with a high and low range. All come with a six-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission, though the V6 is also available with a six-speed manual.
Cayenne comes with a 3.6-liter V6 (that produces 290 horsepower, 273 pound-feet of torque). Leather seating with 12-way power adjustment comes standard, along with titanium interior trim; manually controlled climate control with charcoal and micro-particle cabin filtration; heated retractable exterior mirrors; multi-function trip computer; 12-speaker stereo with CD; air conditioned glove compartment; cruise control; insulated laminated privacy glass; Homelink; immobilizer anti-theft alarm; and an electronically latching power tailgate. Optional for 2008 is natural Chestnut Brown leather upholstery in a two-tone combination with black nappa leather.
Cayenne S gets a 4.8-liter V8 (that delivers 385 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque). Cayenne S adds automatic climate control with dual front-passenger settings and a 350-watt, 14-speaker Bose stereo.
Cayenne Turbo features a twin-turbocharged version of the V8 (rated at 500 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque). The Turbo comes standard with an adjustable air suspension with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM). The Turbo model also upgrades with heated front and rear seats, a power steering wheel adjustment, and park-assist radar warning front and rear. It's equipped with Porsche Communications Management (PCM), a GPS navigation system with integrated telephone and audio controls, and headlights that turn with the steering wheel.
Options include a push-button Sport mode; PASM ($2,990); wood trim packages ($1,385); front and rear park assist ($990); trailer hitch and ball ($630); and 21-inch wheels. Seat upgrades and a full Smooth Leather package that covers everything from grab handles to the center console in hide ($3,040) are available. Porsche Entry and Drive ($995) allows a driver to unlock and start the Cayenne by pulling the door handle and touching the shift lever, while leaving the keys in his pocket or her purse. XM Satellite Radio is available. Features on upper models are available as options on Cayenne and Cayenne S. Porsche's factory customization program allows buyers to order a Cayenne however they want it, limited only by imagination.
Safety features on all models include Porsche Stability Management electronic stability control, traction control, antilock brakes with off-road capability, and Trailer Stability Control. Six airbags come standard: dual-stage front and side-impact airbags for front passengers, and curtain-style head protection airbags on both sides of the cabin. All five seating positions have three-point belts with pretensioners to instantly tighten them and limit stretching on impact. The front belts also have automatic force limiters, reducing potential for belt-related injuries. New for 2008 is a rollover sensor designed to trigger seat belt tensioners and curtain airbags.