Porsche Cayenne

Third-gen cash cow shows the opposition a clean set of hooves

ASH WESTERMAN

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

Model Porsche Cayenne S

Engine 2894cc V6 (90º), dohc, 24v, twin-turbo

Max power 324kW @ 5700-6600rpm

Max torque 550Nm @ 1800-5500rpm

Transmission 8-speed automatic

Weight 1945kg

0-100km/h 5.2sec (claimed)

Economy 9.4L/100km

Price $155,100

On sale Now

PLUS & MINUS

Sharp dynamics; strong, refined powertrains; attractive interior

Lack of third-row option; ride on steel springs; steering feel not brilliant

BACK in 2002, a new global sport was born. It was called kickin’ the Cayenne, and it seemed everyone wanted a turn to sink the slipper. Porsche purists scoffed at its high-riding hideousness and abrasive ride; others were outraged that this iconic German sports car specialist would succumb to the lure of filthy lucre in the sports utility segment.

Well, as we acknowledge the debut of the all-new, third-generation model, total sales for the nameplate are now well past 750,000. So it’s fairly clear who’s having the last laugh. But just as importantly, we can’t think of another large premium SUV that can challenge the new Cayenne for dynamic ability and driver involvement.

The modular architecture on which it’s built is the VW Group’s MLB Evo platform (shared with Audi Q7, Bentley Bentayga, Lambo Urus) although Porsche is quick to point out how much of the key chassis hardware – uprights, hubs, carriers, brakes and more – are specific to the Cayenne.

There’s also been a significant change to structural materials and the construction method compared with the outgoing car. Greater use of aluminium means the bodyshell is now variously screwed, bonded and stitched, rather than purely welded, bringing increased rigidity while cutting weight by around 65kg, spec-for-spec.

Initially, at least, buyers can order a Cayenne in one of three strengths that basically amount to swift, ultra-rapid or properly nuts. The engine line-up (all running an eight-speed torque-converter auto) effectively mimics that of a trio of Panamera variants.

The entry model (simply called Cayenne) runs a 3.0-litre, singleturbo petrol V6 making 250kW and 450Nm. It’s priced at $116,000 and delivers performance that will surely be deemed ‘more than ample’ for plenty of customers. Porsche claims 0-100km/h in 6.2sec, and it always feels lively and responsive to the throttle. Yes, it’s a bit light-on for character, but there’s nothing wrong with its willingness to punch through the mid-range and remain unstressed when working hard up around 6000rpm.

It’s worth noting that this variant comes standard with steel springs for its adaptive dampers, and the ride (regardless of the dynamic mode selected) is never as composed as that of the upper two models that run air springs. Fortunately, this air-sprung set-up is on the long list of options available for the base Cayenne.

Above it sits the Cayenne S, powered by the Panamera 4S’s 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6, delivering an identical 324kW and 550Nm. The price jumps significantly (to $155,100, up nearly $39K over the base car) but so does performance, while a meaner, harder-edged character is bundled in free. Not only is the must-have air suspension included, but the brake package jumps from fourpiston, 350mm fronts on the base car to a six-piston/390mm set-up.

Topping the range is the $249,400 Turbo, spewing 404kW/770Nm from its 4.0-litre twin-huffer V8.

Inside, the cabin’s newfound sense of space and premium feel is profound. Even in base spec, the Cayenne feels nicely executed. Start adding trim options and it becomes a properly high-end environment.

Perhaps you’re a late, even grudging convert to the SUV wave. Maybe you’ve driven a few in this segment only to find them still a little less than quick-witted and satisfying. The new Cayenne, with standard-setting levels of dynamic nous, may just make you want to put the boot in.

ASH WESTERMAN

01 Both Cayenne and S can be optioned with the 10-piston/415mm front disc set-up from the Turbo, though a minimum of 21-inch wheels is required for clearance.

02 Resolution of the 12.3-inch display is top notch; the glossy glass panels either side of the gear selector respond with a haptic click when key functions are pressed.

03 Practicality has also been improved, with a rear seat that slides and tilts to free up an extra 100 litres more luggage space with shorties in the second row.

Audi Q5 3.0 TDI sneaks in a six-pack

FIRST OVERSEAS DRIVE

AUDI’S new Q5 3.0 TDI subverts Australia’s love of ‘badge bragging’ by concealing serious punch within an understated exterior.

Propulsion comes from a reworked version of the 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 diesel found in the old Q5, though outputs rise to a meaty 210kW and 620Nm (up 30kW/30Nm).

That torque figure actually eclipses the (now petrol powered) SQ5 flagship. It’s a beautifully smooth unit, 03 and refinement has been given a further boost with very little of that typical oil-burner rattle. There’s even a throaty induction growl that belies the engine’s diesel diet.

Peak torque is available at 1500rpm and continues through to 3000rpm, which, paired with an intuitve and smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic, ensures the 3.0 TDI makes short work of standing starts and overtakes.

The quickest diesel Q5 has a tea-totalling approach to fuel consumption, drinking a claimed 6.3L/100km. Quattro all-wheel drive is standard, with power able to be split 40:60 front-to-rear during sporty driving, while retaining a 50:50 division for regular use.

As for pricing, at $83,900 it neatly divides the 2.0 TDI/TFSI variants and the $100K SQ5. While our test vehicle was fitted with air suspension, in Australia the Q5 3.0 TDI will feature steel springs as standard. Adaptive dampers (a must-have option in other variants) are an extra $2150, while the air set-up we tested will cost $3990.

The Q5 3.0 TDI offers a sweet middle ground for buyers who want near-SQ5 thrust without the pricetag. The best part is that, but for a ‘3.0’ badge, no-one will know you’re packin’.

CAMERON KIRBY

Model Audi Q5 3.0 TDI quattro

Engine 2967cc V6 (90°), dohc, 24v, t/d

Max power/torque 210kW/620Nm

Transmission 8-speed automatic

Weight 1870kg

0-100km/h 5.8sec (claimed)

Economy 6.3L/100km

Price $83,900 On sale Now