14 February 2005

Porsche’s Cayenne 4x4 might have been a runaway success, but here’s the world exclusive evidence that the company isn’t resting on its laurels. Caught here on test in southern Germany is the new Cayenne, sporting a redesigned nose, tweaks to the rear-end styling and a range of modified engines.

Unlikely to be publicly unveiled before the Detroit Motor Show next January (or possibly even later), the next Cayenne addresses the current car’s unloved styling as well as updating the vehicle in the face of fresh competition from Mercedes’ new M-class, the Range Rover Sport and all-new seven-seat Audi Q7.

These pictures show an early prototype of the new model and clearly demonstrate the extensive changes made to the car’s nose. The headlamps have been reshaped into a more streamlined and purposeful look, and the gaping air intakes have been redesigned.

However, this car is wearing a thin plastic nosecone disguise which makes it hard to tell exactly how Porsche engineers have reworked the car’s air management. But one thing is clear: the thin upper central air intake has been dropped down below the headlamp’s lower edge. This seems to allow all three intakes to line up – a considerable improvement over the current nose design.

Extensions ahead of the front wheels and a re-worked lower valance may be modifications to meet upcoming pedestrian safety regulations. Vehicles with high ground clearances need to ensure that pedestrians aren’t dragged under the wheels in an accident.

Other minor changes to the back appear to be smaller rear lights (their bottom edges on this mule have been extended with red tape) and a new rear bumper and valance design.

One Porsche source suggested that the mule is out testing because the cooling system must be perfected this far ahead of launch. Any fundamental problems here could require a re-design of the grille openings.

Although the 450bhp Turbo Cayenne is mesmerically rapid, Porsche engineers could be preparing to up the power again. After all, this mule seems to have eight-pot front brake calipers.

Even more likely is that the base model will get a version of VW’s upcoming 3.6-litre V6 engine destined for a super-Passat. In the standard state of tune it develops 280bhp, 30bhp more than today’s 3.2-litre V6 Cayenne.

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Golf Plus

The Volkswagen Golf Plus offers extra space but little in the way of added versatility. Is that enough?

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