Porsche’s new Cayenne will have much improved off-road ability than the model it replaces, Autocar has learned while on an exclusive development ride along in the new luxury SUV.
Jurgen Zoellter joined Porsche’s head of development Rolf Frech and his team in the UAE to test the Cayenne’s resilience to hot weather, as well as its ability to cope with the extreme conditions of a 300ft sand dune known as Big Red.
Advancements have been made to the Cayenne’s centre and rear locking differentials, its air suspension, traction control and torque vectoring system to improve its off-road ability over the old car.
The Cayenne Turbo model tested was able to go up and down Big Red four times, with the speed rarely dropping below 30mph. “You couldn’t do that in the current Turbo,” said Frech. “It would have got stuck, worn out or both.”
The only problem encountered on Big Red was the fifth climb, where the rear differential overheated and refused to lock. The Cayenne was left to cool for five minutes before beginning another descent and it was a problem Frech was unconcerned about.
“These are extreme conditions and eventually something had to give,” he said. I’m confident few owners will subject their cars to such punishment.
“Overall, I’m very happy. The car is a big improvement from the last one; it’s more finely honed – more of a Porsche than before.”
While in UAE, Zoellter also learned more about the new Cayenne’s design and mechanicals. Like the Volkswagen Touareg it is based on, the Cayenne has been given a complete makeover, while also making use of Panamera architecture and mechanicals.
It has grown by 45mm over the outgoing model, 40mm of this growth occurring in its wheelbase. This is mainly to create more legroom for rear passengers.
The new Cayenne also weighs in almost 200kg lighter than the old model. A Cayenne S will have a kerb weight of 2095kg. These weight reductions have mainly been achieved by the use of more aluminium in its construction. This is most notable in its bonnet, doors, axles and front bumper.
Model range and new features
When the new Cayenne reaches UK showrooms in the summer, three models will be available. These are a 296bhp 3.6-litre Cayenne V6, a 394bhp 4.8-litre Cayenne S and a 493bhp Cayenne Turbo. A V6 diesel and a hybrid are expected to follow later in the year.
The Cayenne Turbo model will be able to crack 0-62mph in 4.6sec.
The old Cayenne’s variable-height, roll-controlled air suspension has been retained, but its low-range transfer gearbox has been dropped. Unlike the Panamera’s dual-clutch ‘box, the Cayenne gets a torque convertor automatic.
“The PDK system couldn’t cope with high-stress, low-speed manoeuvres like rock crawling without overheating,” said Frech.
The Aisin-supplied gearbox in the new Cayenne has shorter first and second gears to boost acceleration and taller seventh and eight gears to boost motorway efficiency.