Toronto, ON. When I say Porsche, you’re probably thinking about 30-year old sports cars selling for 300% more than they did just five years ago.
While that is relevant, over the last 15 years, Porsche has been very much about their Cayenne performance sport utility vehicle.
Yes, they’ve invested heavily in their entire lineup and while the 911 is the pretty face of the brand, only the Cayenne is known as the Saviour.
The 1st generation E1 Cayenne rocked Porsche’s casbah. And filled its coffers. The E2 was a radical yet ultimately familiar departure from the E1, but it too proved to be an extremely popular SUV for the well-to-do masses.
For their latest E3 Cayenne, Porsche concentrated on evolving the design overall, improve on the driving experience and loading it up with more technology.
A ”regular” Cayenne for you and me
I learned on this event that the base trim accounts for 50-60% of all Cayenne sales in Canada. I suspect the situation might be similar elsewhere in the world which explain why Porsche invested heavily in their volume leader.
Before I elaborate further, know that the 2019 Cayenne is longer, wider and lower, tips the scale at between 121-160lbs lighter than the E2 through a 100% aluminum body and the VW family’s MLB platform which also underpins the Audi Q7 and Bentley Bentayga.
It is on this building block that Porsche opted for a front multi-link suspension setup, to match the rear, include some new engines and transmission and finally, fit larger and wider standard wheels and tires.
New turbo V6, transmission and suspension
As I was saying, the base 2019 Porsche Cayenne now sports a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 that puts out 335-horsepower and 332 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,340 rpm to 5,300 rpm.
Mated to the new ZF 8-speed automatic transmission, it provides enough go to reach 100 km/h in 6.2 seconds. With the $1,280 Sport Chrono Package, the sprint time drops to 5.9 seconds. The vast amount of available torque throughout the rev-range means it’s always at the ready for liftoff.
Once underway, the ZF is honed to respond to driver inputs without ever being harsh.
From a standstill, the Cayenne still suffers some annoying throttle and transmission reaction delays. Under normal loads, the V6 is relaxed and smooth. This too describes how the new 2019 Porsche Cayenne operates in general.
The new front suspension setup, weight reduction and beefier wheels and tires improve the overall driving experience however the typically mundane Ontarian roads we traversed did little to challenge the Cayenne’s newfound skillset. Through the entire journey, the Porsche was as steady as she went.
Designed for luxury and comfort
The 2019 Cayenne’s new dimensions are unnoticeable as the new sheet-metal has clearly evolved from the E2 Cayenne. In other words, it’s already quite familiar.
The cabin too has progressed however the changes are more obvious. The previous landing-strip of controls is now a uniform piece of gloss black plastic on which all important controls, including drive modes, HVAC controls and others are located.
Although I do like the look, the plethora of buttons was truly unique to Porsche whereas now, the plastic isn’t quite as special.
The centrally-mounted 12.3-inch screen is a piece of art as is the instrument panel which now consist of a single centrally-located analogue gauge surrounded by configurable screens.
The Cayenne’s cabin is large and comfortable, like its seats. The boot is huge and accessible and it gets better from there thanks to the countless options.
Porsche will be introducing a few novel safety gadgets with the E3 Cayenne.
The most interesting is Porsche InnoDrive which is a predictive type of adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous functions. Its trick is that it uses the knowledge gained from its ability to scan up to three kilometres ahead to formulate the most efficient balance of speed with braking and accelerating.
Slight price jump
For 2019, pricing will rise a not inconsiderable amount. Previously, the base Cayenne retailed for $69,900. Now, the base price is set at $75,500.
We’ve touched on the platform, suspension, powertrain and to this will be added better sound insulation and extra technologies like park assist. In fact, a quick count shows that the 2019 has more than $8,000 worth of extras for the supplemental $5,600.
In this segment, consumers shop for a brand. At this price point, image carries is as important utility and luxury. With rivals from Audi, Mercedes, Range Rover and BMW, the Cayenne has its hands full but it always has an ace in the hole: It’s a Porsche.