The third-gen Porsche Cayenne does something unthinkable for a luxury SUV – but it could help save the world
Zuffenhausen, Germany –
On August 29, at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, the German luxury sports car company unveiled the third-generation of its Cayenne big SUV (sports utility vehicle).
Some features and inclusions on the new car come as very little surprise, but there’s also reflections of the significant changes behind the scenes at Porsche and its corporate parent, the Volkswagen Group.
The third-gen model is new from the ground up and expected to reach Singapore in early 2018 – scroll down to see a summary of the changes – but there is a glaring omission to the launch models that is one of the biggest signposts to a changing industry.
The Cayenne was Porsche’s second big hit, following the Boxster, and went on to become the brand’s best selling model of all at least until the less expensive and smaller Macan debuted in 2015. It was, said Mr Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board at Porsche AG, “a best-seller and driver of growth for years, a car which opened many new markets for the brand.”
SUVs are still a big business for Porsche, and make up 70 percent of its sales. In 2016, it sold a record 237,778 cars, with 70,867 of them Cayennes, and 95,642 the smaller Macan.
The launch choices for the new Cayenne consists of the normal Cayenne and the Cayenne S, both powered by a similar 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 engine. That’s it – the diesel options have not been confirmed at this point in time.
Diesel engines make perfect powerplants for SUVs thanks to their increased torque and good fuel efficiency, which usually helps offset an SUV’s increased weight. With diesel’s domination of Western Europe, it’s been unthinkable for a German luxury brand to launch a new SUV model without a diesel option – at least until now.
In contrast, Porsche’s most recent new model, the Panamera Sport Turismo, was launched less than a month ago, but has an oil-burning model, the 4S Diesel.
Both Mr Blume (pictured, above), as well as Hans-Jurgen Wohler, Porsche’s vice-president of its SUV product line, confirmed that a final decision on a diesel Cayenne will be made shortly ‘in the coming weeks’.
Porsche doesn’t develop and produce diesel engines, Mr Blume said, referring to the fact that its diesels are supplied by VW Group relation Audi, so the decision for Porsche not to produce a Cayenne Diesel – or any future diesels for that – is an easier one to make.
Diesel has had its former market dominance weakened in recent times. The fallout from the 2015 Dieselgate scandal hasn’t just caused huge fines for VW Group, but also drawn attention back to diesel’s shortcomings, including increased NO and particulate pollutants. Martin Winterkorn, VW Group’s head honcho, stepped down, with Porsche COE Matthias Muller becoming VW Group CEO with the explicit mission of winning back public trust.
Porsche’s wildest Panamera is a plug-in hybrid – could the range-topping Cayenne be even more extreme?
The most obvious way to do that of course, would be to shift away from diesel and towards electrification, which is exactly what seems to be the case here. Both executives spoke of a trend shift towards plug-ins and EVs. Although they didn’t outright confirm the next Cayenne S E-Hybrid’s existence, it seems a near certain thing.
“We will definitely move toward plug-ins and more electrification,” Mr Blume said, citing Porsche’s planned electric sports car for 2019, the Mission E. For fans of Porsche’s big SUV, there might be an added (pleasant) shock to the spice in future.
“The Cayenne will certainly profit from our plug-in hybrid strategy, and we think you will be surprised.”
2018 Porsche Cayenne: What’s new
All the key points of evolution for the third-generation Porsche Cayenne
2,995cc, V6 turbo, 340hp/450Nm, 0-100km/h 6.2 seconds, 245km/h, 9.1L/100km, 207g/km CO2
Porsche Cayenne S
2,995cc, V6 biturbo, 440hp/550Nm, 0-100km/h 5.2 seconds, 265km/h, 9.3L/100km, 211g/km CO2
Unlike the Porsche Panamera, which uses the ‘premium’ MSB underpinnings, the Cayenne is based on the VW Group MLB Evo platform. It’s in good company though, as the current Audi Q7, Bentley Bentayga and forthcoming Lamborghini Urus all use this skeleton. The usual weight-saving and strength-gaining measures have been taken, with more aluminium and high-strength steel, plus advanced material bonding methods, it’s up to 65kg lighter than before. Notably the entire outer skin is made from aluminium.
New to the Cayenne is the latest three-chamber air suspension system that is very similar to the one that debuted with the new Panamera. Another carry over from the luxury limo is four-wheel steering, which Porsche says will allow even more agility and 911-aping fun. Porsche also rolled out a new brake system called Porsche Surface Coated Brake, which has a tungsten-carbide layer that improved braking power and reduces brake dust and wear.
The base model’s engine seems to be the V6 seen in the Macan and Panamera, but Porsche says the Cayenne S has a ‘newly-developed’ biturbo V6 with 440hp. A new eight-speed Tiptronic S transmission is also featured, with quicker shift and response times and contributing to better fuel efficiency.
The clean new layout and improved tech from infotainment from the Panamera are seen here too – 12.8-inch touch screen, optional hifime audio. A new touch is Porsche version of sir, which it calls intelligent connectee voice control. It’ll respond to phrases like ‘I’m hot’ or ‘take me home’ with an appropriate system response.
A classic Porsche case of evolution over revolution. While it looks highly similar, the new car has new, three-section LED headlights and a ‘joined’ taillight section as seen on the Panamera.