Crete, Greece, October 24 — A bearded old woman waddles in front of this brand new Porsche Cayenne, perhaps testing its pedestrian recognition technology. We’re nearly stuck in the middle of a tiny village square whose ‘roads’ — nav software be damned — become paths if locals park their ancient Fiat Puntos in front of their homes.
So if we proceed the Cayenne will be squeezed into tzatziki. That’s why we slowly reverse downhill to a wider avenue. The bearded granny smiles from ahead of the hood hill and waves. The female robot voice in the nav software reroutes and prompts us in the language of our choice, her perceivably peccable Greek accent making a hilarious hash of the town and road names.
Welcome to the international launch of the 2019 Porsche Cayenne.
The dips, climbs and narrow weaving roads amid the severe mountains of this largest Greek island provide an ideal testing ground for the driving dynamics of this five-seat luxury SUV. The tendency of the locals to cruise up the middle of the roads provides a greater test for our blood pressure meds.
The new Cayenne is lighter but more powerful than its predecessor. There are three levels of choice: the base Cayenne, the Cayenne S and the Cayenne Turbo. The size of engine and suite of comforts is enhanced with each upgrade. We drove all three but I was most impressed with the base model because it has upped its game so very much. The entry-level Cayenne benefits from all the same leaps forward in tech that the other trims enjoy — and unless you drive to work via the Autobahn, its 3.0 liter six-cylinder turbo engine should accommodate your appetite for spice. It’s capable of 340hp and 100kph in 6.2 seconds from go. Add the available Sport Chrono Package and it can do that in just 5.9 seconds. Opa!
Several world firsts, including tungsten-carbide coated brakes.
Tungsten is among the strongest metals there are. This unique finish on the brakes improves friction values — better braking — while reducing scratching and therefor rust. So take it out in the rain and snow!
Another first in SUVs is the active adaptable spoiler, standard with the Cayenne Turbo. If you’re going fast, it sends air downwards to keep your rear on the ground. (An old Porsche ad once referred to the feeling as ‘rolling Velcro’.) If you’re going really, really fast — it has a top speed of 265 kph — it helps stop you as an airbrake! Then you can go to jail in one piece.
Porsche’s goal: Deliver the feeling of a sports car in an SUV.
Inspired by Porsche’s famous 911 model, the Cayenne is quirkily ignited by the button to the left of the steering wheel and offers the sorts of upgrades you’d typically save for such a sports car, including rear-axle steering (another first) and mixed tires of between 19” and 21”.
Mind you wouldn’t take your 911 off-road. The Cayenne, a true SPORT utility vehicle, offers unique off-road modes for different conditions: Mud, Gravel, Sand or Rocks. In Gravel, we took the Turbo model onto an almost perpendicular off-road test, a series of rocky switchbacks that had my drive partner hanging on for dear life and almost losing his breakfast. The traction management software had me believing I’m a far better driver than I actually am.
Slightly wider than the previous generation with no addition to its wheelbase (the length between the axles, which affects sportiness and rear seat comfort among other things) the new Cayenne still grips magnificently and has managed to increase the cargo space from 670 to 770 liters. That’s a lot of cartage potential. So it’s also a true sport UTILITY vehicle.
The new Cayenne and Cayenne S will be available next summer starting at $75,500 and $92,600 respectively. The Cayenne Turbo will arrive a little later and start at $139,700. Opa!