Scene One: We're racking
up triple-digit speeds in the latest vehicle from Porsche of Germany while running
lickety-split on the 2.3-mile curlicue track tucked into rolling hills at the
Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.
speed-rated tires for all four wheels claw the asphalt to render uncanny stick-it-down
traction as we steer the car down the right-left-right cha-cha-cha of Barber's
tricky corkscrew chicane.
Two: This same Porsche hugs a narrow strip of pavement strung like thread along
the rim of an escarpment high in the Appalachian Mountains of northeastern Alabama.
tackles the twisted trace at a swift pace yet exhibits surprising agility in the
its independent suspension system under constant computer control for electronically
variable shock valve damping, the big wheels prance in step with every contour
of the washboard road surface yet the ultra-stiff monocoque structure floats smoothly
through all of the rough stuff.
Three: The 'Brazilian Highway' -- a deep sluice of red Alabama clay mixed with
a river of run-off rain water -- forms a gumbo-thick mire through a tortuous four-wheel-drive
(4WD) training course back at the Barber race complex.
same Porsche we push so quickly around the test track or so deftly across knotted
mountain roads also plunges into axle-deep goo on the Brazilian Highway and, drawing
on the computerized Porsche Traction Management (PTM) 4WD system which includes
a low-gear range and locking center differential, grinds through so much tire-sucking
muck without deviating from the straightaway line.
also climbs an ultra-steep embankment and romps over a stair-step pile of riprap
granite, proving it can venture confidently across rugged terrain far away from
what kind of vehicle, you may wonder, can run around a race track in lightning-fast
time like a race-ready sports car but also slog through a mud pit or scramble
over walls of boulders like a tough and rugged off-road wagon?
only one answer for a vehicle with the seemingly incongruent traits of an agile
sports car and go-anywhere 4WD wagon: Porsche calls it the spicy Cayenne.
it as the first sport-utility wagon for a brand recognized heretofore strictly
for producing incomparable two-seat sports cars capable of capturing the checkered
flag at fabled endurance races like LeMans, Sebring and Daytona.
that matter, it's also the first four-door vehicle for Porsche,
the first to carry a bench-style back seat, the only Porsche
that can accommodate up to five passengers in the cabin and
the only one with a cargo bay and hatchback lid at the tail.
the rather conventional format as a four-door SUV, Cayenne poses Porsche-engineered
mechanical systems on a tightly tuned platform geared for high performance and
view it head-on and you will see that Cayenne's face resembles Porsche's primary
sports car, the 911 Carrera Coupe, only hiked up higher due to the 4WD suspension
and huge tires that run optionally up to 20 inches.
the hood swooping down between corner flanks marked by uniquely shaped headlamp
clusters and underscored by a narrow linear grille, stacked air ports and square-corner
flare around the wheelwells like muscles bulging on an athlete's broad shoulders,
while the flat roofline gives way near the tail with a sharp descent to taillamps
to forge a silhouette that appears tilted forward in a suggestion of speed.
outfits Cayenne with new V8 engines that cap the sport-utility power chart.
are two versions.
Cayenne S base model draws from a naturally-aspirated 90-degree V8 that displaces
4.5 liters and develops up to 340 hp at 6000 rpm plus 310 lb-ft of torque peaking
between 2500-5500 rpm.
ultimate model Cayenne Turbo uses this same plant fitted with twin turbo-chargers
to maximize the power punch. It achieves 450 hp at 6000 rpm and torque numbers
of 457 lb-ft between 2250-4750 rpm.
engines tie to a new six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with manual shift
action controlled through toggle switches set on the steering wheel. Both
also channel all of the engine's energy through a permanent 4WD system, the PTM
device with inter-axle differential lock and low-range gearing for tackling serious
traction for Cayenne is further enhanced by the Porsche Stability Management (PSM)
system that automatically corrects lateral skidding. To
rein so much horsepower in Cayenne, big brakes are aboard, plus an alphabet soup
in computer controls.
consist of six-piston aluminum monoblock calipers with 13.78-inch inner-vented
discs up front and four-piston monoblock calipers in back for 13-inch inner-vented
controls include an anti-lock brake system (ABS), plus automatic brake differential
(ABD), anti-slip regulation (ASR) and the PSM device that coordinates with all
other controls plus the PTM 4WD system.
and tire packages for both Cayenne S and Turbo range in size from 18 to 20 inches.The
standard kit brings 18-inch light-alloy wheels and 255/55R18 tires. Optional are
19-inch wheels with 275/45R19 tires or the ultimate set of 20-inch rollers capped
by 275/40R20 rubber.
quick can a sport-ute be? Porsche's
own tests reveal that the Cayenne Turbo scores as the fastest SUV on the planet.
can zip from a stoplight start to 62 mph (100 kph) in only 5.2 seconds and run
to a top speed of 165 mph. The
Cayenne S covers the zero-to-62 mph distance in 7.2 seconds and hits its limit
at 150 mph.
contents for both versions amount to first-class accommodations
with premium fixtures and multiple air bags including curtain-style
side air bags stretching above doors for front and back seats.
gear ranges from leather and walnut wood trim packages for Cayenne S to bi-xenon
headlamps and a CD changer for six discs.
sets price points at $55,900 for Cayenne S and $88,900 for Cayenne Turbo.
Click here for more information on the Porsche Cayenne.