As a bonus attraction at the recent Deep Dive event into the all-new 2020 992 911, I got to drive the three other currently available version of the new 2019 Porsche Cayenne.
Stuttgart, Germany. The good people from Porsche Canada thought it would be a good idea to head to the Black Forest and sample the other levels of the Cayenne’s Scoville scale. To be honest, the First Drive of the new base Cayenne served to demonstrate how underwhelmingly good the truck is. The roads driven were the root cause of this conclusion but this time, other than negotiating traffic around the busy town that is Stuttgart, things turned out differently.
The new E3 Cayenne is the third generation of the sport and luxury car brand’s saviour. As a successful product for a low-volume car manufacturer, few can match the Cayenne’s impact. For this round, the base truck is as complete and competent as it has ever been.
Porsche reckons that roughly 3 out of 5 Cayennes sold in Canada are the basic version. The three I drove in Germany serve far deeper pockets and one stands as the model’s poster-boy.
No matter the version, Porsche’s Cayenne is a beacon in the increasingly crowded midsize luxury SUV segment. The E3 is built upon VW’s excellent MLB platform which has not only allowed the Cayenne to drop some weight but has raised the vehicle’s refinement to a new high.
The tested vehicles all included the following features which were instrumental in the way they behaved on the road: The optional on all but the Turbo adaptive air suspension with level control and height adjustment with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), along with Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC), rear-axle steering and finally the Sport Chrono Package including mode-switch.
All three Cayennes handled superbly even though shod with 20-inch Pirelli winter tires. Steering response is direct and heavily influenced by the must-have rear-axle steering. Comfort and handling are mutually inclusive – regardless of the trim, a Montreal-Toronto road trip with a stop-over at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park for a lapping session is more than possible when equipped as such.
Aboard, the Cayenne caters to all needs as well. The centrally-mounted 12.3-inch screen is the center-piece of what is a functional and attractive dashboard. Porsche has thought of everything where space, comfort and utility are concerned. Attention to detail and craftsmanship are second to none, unsurprisingly.
Now that the formalities are out of the way, let’s get going.
Let’s begin with the one I loved and despised the most at once. The 2019 E-Hybrid starts at $91,700 and relies on a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 coupled to an electric motor that is fed by a 14 kWh battery. Output is rated at 455-horsepower and 516 lb.-ft. of torque. What more could anyone ever want?
This kind of power is enough to send the decidedly heavy 2,295 kg (5,049 lbs.) to 100 km/h in only 5 seconds on its way to a top speed of 253 km/h. The powertrain is smooth and incredibly efficient. The E-Hybrid features the new 8-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission which does duty in the new 992.
So, what’s wrong with it? The brakes.
This is a common flaw with recent plug-in hybrids which have a hard time modulating braking power between combustion engine and electric transitions. In traffic, with a low charge, braking power varies suddenly when the internal combustion engine switches off – the repeated jerkiness from mild to strong braking pressure is immensely unpleasant.
Let’s hope that when the 911 goes hybrid, Porsche will have revised the braking situation.
The $92,600 “S” is the wise choice. The twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 produces 434-horsepower and 406-lb.-ft. of torque from 1,800 rpm. This one shoots forward to 100 km/h in 5.2 seconds but does not feels as fast as the E-Hybrid.
Even so, the S merges onto the Autobahn with considerable force. The standard 8-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission is very present at all times – its mechanical involvement is somehow reassuring.
The Cayenne S strikes a perfect balance between performance and efficiency as proven by fuel economy numbers as it will consume barely more than 10L/100km on the highway and return an average of under 12L/100km.
Sure, the other Cayennes are quick but my drive partner and I were both flabbergasted when stomped hard on the throttle the first time. The current daddy of all Cayennes sports a base price of $139,700 and is frighteningly fast. The twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 belches out 514-horsepower and a tizzy-inducing 568 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,960 rpm. When the power kicks in no matter the drive mode, the rear end squats and the 100 km/h mark arrives in only 3.9 seconds (with the included Sport Chrono Package, 4.1 without). Poking around with the drive modes renders the 8-speed Tiptronic S automatic almost psychic as any of provocation on the go pedal sends the truck into orbit.
While the power is addictive, the tester’s included massive 415mm front discs with gargantuan 10-piston callipers are sublime. Brake pedal reaction is subliminal and the stopping power! I can barely imagine what the Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) must be like…
What blows me away about the Cayenne, the Turbo in particular, is that is other than its quad tailpipes and marginally different front grille, it is nearly indistinguishable. Unlike other luxury brands, Porsche toned down its flagship SUV which I find completely fascinating.
The new E3 2019 Porsche Cayenne is exactly what’s it is supposed to be and that’s brilliant.