Mild air and warm sun bring the feeling of early spring to southern Spain, where Porsche is launching the latest-generation Cayenne, Cayenne S and the flagship Cayenne Turbo. New, larger capacity V6 and V8 engines with direct petrol injection promise tremendous performance, smoothed by the dynamics of the new Porsche chassis. The perfect opportunity for a Classic Driver test drive.
The new Porsche Cayenne stands before the imposing entrance of the Meliá Sancti Petri, in the Spanish Chiclana de la Frontera, south of Cádiz. Shining marble and five stars decorate the vast building under the palms but the real stars are the cars. Almost 20 new Porsche Cayennes stand ready, filled with fuel, but it’s the Cayenne Turbo, with its 500bhp V8, which Classic Driver has booked for its test drive. What can come between us now?
Actually, the Porsche engineers. Before we set off, there’s an intensive tutorial on the engine and chassis, covering all the latest innovations from Stuttgart. This new Cayenne is far more than a facelift of the outgoing model, as Porsche engineer Martin Kerkau explains. He tells us how the engines, now with Direct Fuel Injection (DFI), have lower emissions and fuel consumption but increased performance, torque and response. These advantages, he tells us, are possible by first injecting the mixture at 120 bar pressure, and then increasing engine efficiency with a higher compression ratio.
It sounds almost too good to be true – that fuel consumption is reduced by up to 15%, while simultaneously, and substantially, improving performance. The chassis is no less remarkable. Here, Porsche has invented the new acronym PDCC. That stands for Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, a roll stablising system which uses hydraulic rotary motors to keep the body horizontal during changes of direction or surface irregularities – and this up to a lateral acceleration of 0.65g. The practical outcome is that the new Cayenne can tackle bends at far higher speeds.
I’m convinced, anyway. Tomorrow, we’ll be putting these Porsche innovations to the test.
A New Dawn...
At eight o’clock the sun is rising rapidly over the hills – more rapidly, in fact, than some of our press colleagues can rise from their beds. But not me: what, with a Porsche waiting?
Quick check: tank full of fuel, roadbook on board, and all the major technical specifications learned by heart. First test: an empirical examination of fuel consumption at motorway speeds. Secondly: swift travel along zigzag roads in the Sierra del Valle to check stability. And thirdly: an off-road excursion. “A decent day’s driving!” shouts an older colleague.
The Turbo receives us with the fresh, warm smell of leather. To genuine Porsche fans this smell is better than a hand-rolled cigar. I turn the ignition key and the eight-cylinder engine wakes up. The noise is so restrained that I’m astonished: is this really the Cayenne Turbo?
The Cayenne leaves its parking slot with all the reliable virtues of an everyday car on the daily run to work. Once we reach the turn onto the highway I press the accelerator pedal and start to feel centrifugal force – and then don’t, as the stabilising system corrects the forces pulling at the body. We reach the straight: kickdown, right to the floor. The gearbox shifts quickly down, while the engine loses all cultivated politeness and thunders metallically. The boost gauge snaps to 0.8 bar. The tachometer swoops from left to right, sweeping over the scale towards 300km/h – no doubt about it, this is the Cayenne Turbo. And what a turbo.
Now to the second part of our test: the zigzag roads of the Sierra del Valle. A fresh strip of bitumen twisting through the early fog in the hills and lined with Armco barriers. But we don’t need them: the PDCC works. As if with an invisible hand, the system stabilises the Cayenne as we drive fast through the curves, keeping the throttle depressed. The turbo roars at the end of the straight but the new Cayenne obediently follows the flow of the road.
A short break before the final test: off-road driving in the dusty terrain of the Stierranch Torrestrella. I do not for a second doubt the strength of the Cayenne’s bullish V8; I have such faith in the engine that I feel it could scale walls, if asked.
I direct the car carefully up a track behind a farmhouse, across a dry river bed and up past olive trees to the crest of a hill. The Cayenne climbs with precision – and likewise descends the slope on the other side. Down in the valley, feisty young bulls with stately horns welcome us, gathering around us with interest. I feel strong; experienced; courageous – and jump out of the Porsche to capture the moment in a photograph. Whatever am I doing? Back in the Cayenne, quickly.
At last we’re read for the return flight to Germany, and I find myself reluctant to leave the Cayenne Turbo behind. Together with its smaller brothers, the new Turbo is a worthy member of Porsche’s Cayenne family. Play it again…
Text & Photos: Mathias Paulokat
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