Porsche purists will gnash and wail until the end of time, but there's no denying that over the past 15 years, the Cayenne SUV has been the catalyst for Porsche's explosive growth. Beyond Porsche, the Cayenne has been a driver of change throughout the luxury industry.
Pricey SUVs are one of the fastest growing market segments, with seemingly no end in sight. Lest the competition run away with things, Porsche today introduces the third-generation 2019 Cayenne. It's meant to be sportier than ever, though it probably won't make those purists happy.
Initially available are the Cayenne and Cayenne S, though other versions with names such as "Turbo" are sure to follow. The Cayenne generates 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque from a 3.0-liter single-turbo V6, propelling the beast, Porsche claims, from 0-60 miles per hour in as little as 5.6 seconds. The quarter mile is vanquished in 14.2 seconds, and the Cayenne moves on to a top speed of 152 mph.
The S uses a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 unit to make 440 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. That's good for a 4.6-second 0-60 time, and a top speed of 164 mph. Porsche says the quarter-mile time is 13.2 seconds.
A new eight-speed Tiptronic S transmission is standard, and the company says improved comfort and quicker response times were the goals behind the development of the new unit. The eighth gear is intentionally long, allowing for "relaxed cruising."
A number of drive modes (including mud, gravel, sand and rocks) allow for tweaks to the transmission, chassis and differential locks to conquer off-pavement environs. Though most Cayennes won't see anything rougher than leaves or maybe some snow at the ski chalet, it's nice to know that Porsche's engineers have put some thought into the possibility.
More "enthusiastic" drivers may opt for the redeveloped Sport Chrono package for some additional driving modes and increased performance. Inspired by the 918 Spyder, the car includes the usual Normal/Sport/Sport Plus driving modes, as well as an individually configurable mode. More fun is the "Sport Response" button that kicks on the most aggressive configuration for 20 seconds — it's perfect for beating that Range Rover Sport owner the next lane over to Whole Foods.
Exclusive to the Cayenne is a trick brake system called the Porsche Surface Coated Brake — also known as PSCB, because Porsche adores acronyms above all else. An option on all Cayenne models with 20- and 21-inch wheels, the PSCB is a cast-iron disc coated with tungsten carbide. Friction values, and thus braking performance, are increased while reducing wear and brake dust. It's meant to be an intermediate step between the standard disc brakes and the top-of-the-line carbon-ceramic brakes that are also available.
Much of the design aesthetic introduced in the 2017 Panamera has migrated over to the new Cayenne, with some tech making the journey as well. The wheelbase remains 114 inches, while length grows to 194 inches from the previous 191 inches. Width, with mirrors folded, is 78 inches. Cargo volume grows almost 15 percent to 27.19 cubic feet.
The chassis drops as much as 143 pounds from the previous generation. Much of the weight shedding comes from an increased use of aluminum (as with prior updates to the 911 and Panamera), and Porsche's lithium-ion polymer starter battery, which accounts for 22 pounds on its own.
The suspension is a separated link design at the front and multilink in back, with front and rear staggered tire sizes included for the first time on the Cayenne. Porsche says this "underscores the fact" that the Cayenne is meant to be the sports car of its SUV segment.
Rear axle steering, previously found on both the 911 and Panamera, is an option. At low speeds, the turning radius is reduced by turning the rear wheels opposite the fronts, while at high speeds the rear wheels turn in phase with the fronts for a smoother ride and better control.
An optional three-chamber air suspension system is available, increasing air volume and giving a finer amount of control to the active suspension. The optional Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control system (PDCC, there go those acronyms again) adds stabilizer bars controlled via a 48-volt electrical system. The company says this delivers greater responsiveness versus a hydraulic system.
The 12.3-inch touch screen from the Panamera comes over as well, offering a wide variety of services, including online navigation with real-time traffic. Porsche says the display has a smartphone-like touch surface, giving acoustic and haptic feedback when touched.
Porsche purists will be happy with the central analog tachometer, flanked by a pair of 7-inch digital displays that can show a variety of driving data controlled from the steering wheel.
A new Off-road Precision App, built especially for the Cayenne, allows drivers to improve their off-road performance with video and other data recordings.
The 2019 Cayenne and Cayenne S will hit showrooms the middle of next year, though they're available for order now with base prices of $66,750 and $83,950 respectively, including a $1,050 delivery fee.