Porsche Cayenne Preview – 2007 Detroit Auto Show: Enthusiasts, especially Porsche purists, relentlessly criticized the German sports car manufacturer when it decided to build an SUV at the height of the sport-ute heyday. That the vehicle was co-engineered with Volkswagen didn’t lend the Cayenne credibility with that crowd, and the underpowered price-leading V6 model undermined the company’s fundamental promise of performance. Nevertheless, the Cayenne was good on the road as well as off the road, in the dry or wet, making it an impressive do-everything kind of vehicle. Now, the 2008 Porsche Cayenne gets a thorough update that makes it better in almost every regard.
When it debuted, the Cayenne immediately became the best selling Porsche model. However, sales have stalled in recent years. The styling update for 2008 provides incentive for current Cayenne owners to get the latest and greatest model, and a new range of engines with more power, better acceleration, and improved fuel economy might move the needle further in Porsche’s favor.
More powerful, more fuel-efficient direct-injection engines are the main upgrade for the 2008 Porsche Cayenne. The standard Cayenne’s V6 increases from 3.2 to 3.6 liters in displacement, making more torque and about 290 horsepower. Still, acceleration to 60 mph takes eight seconds, which is not respectable enough for a Porsche. The new 4.8-liter V8 in the Cayenne S does better, making about 385 horsepower and getting to 60 mpg in 6.5 seconds. The top-shelf Cayenne Turbo spools up about 500 ponies for a 60-mph acceleration run in about five seconds.
Porsche Traction Management doles power out to all four wheels in a 62:38 rear-to-front split, with up to 100 percent of power going to either set of wheels as conditions warrant. Porsche Active Management Suspension can now be equipped with the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control roll stabilizer system on Cayenne and Cayenne S models, limiting and counterbalancing roll and maximizing wheel articulation for improved handling in all situations. Porsche Stability Management includes brake assist, active trailer stabilization, and off-road ABS.
Subtle styling tweaks inside and out differentiate the revised 2008 Porsche Cayenne, which is a substantially upgraded version of the original. Most notable is the new front styling, a handsome if toothsome update that adds a crisp, modern edge to the SUV’s look. Bi-xenon headlights with dynamic bend lighting are standard on the Turbo; optional on Cayenne and S. Rear changes include minor modifications to the fascia and taillights, and new wheels are also part of the deal.
Porsche’s initial press release on the re-engineered Cayenne says: “Four years after the (Cayenne’s) launch, Porsche is presenting the second generation of its sporty SUV. The new, attractively designed Cayenne…offers significant improvements in handling, directional stability, and ride comfort.” Porsche also announced that the new Cayenne will go on sale in the U.S. on March 3, 2007. Pricing for the V6 Cayenne is $43,400, the V8 Cayenne S is $57,900, and the Cayenne Turbo is $93,700.
Based on a cursory examination of the Cayenne’s updates, we think an impressive performance SUV has gotten better. But the question remains: What price performance? As capable as the Cayenne is on any kind of surface, is it ultimately worth the price premium paid? We’ll be driving the new 2008 Porsche Cayenne soon to find out.