DUBAI: When Porsche first unveiled its Cayenne approximately 16 years ago, motoring fans thought it wouldn’t take off. After all, what does a sports car brand know about launching an SUV?
Turns out, a lot actually as funnily enough it’s now a top seller. In 2018 the Cayenne is one of the German giant’s most successful creations in the Middle East region and beyond. So much so, that this year marks its third generation of the beautiful beast. And with Porsche’s promise of the vehicle’s “outstanding handling on any terrain” where else to put it to the test than on our beautiful desert roads?
But first things first — what versions are available? The models we tried were a trio of specs: The Cayenne, Cayenne S and Cayenne Turbo. A Cayenne E-Hybrid is also now available.
The base model comprises a six-cylinder turbo engine, producing 340 hp. It achieves a 0-100km/h in just 6.2 seconds. The Sport version is powered by a 2.9-liter, 440 hp biturbo-charged V6 engine, reaching 100 km/h in 5.2 seconds. And finally, the tough Turbo — featuring a biturbo eight-cylinder engine putting out 550 hp — reaches an acceleration of 0-100 km/h in just 4.1 seconds.
We took all three out for a spin around Dubai, Fujairah and Dibba — different roads, different terrain. And the manufacturer is true to its word when it says the Cayenne can handle all types of ground (of course we didn’t try it on icy roads, but hey, what are the chances of needing to over here?).
Cayenne starting prices
SR375,800 Cayenne S
SR573,700 Cayenne Turbo
SR392,167 Cayenne E-Hybrid
The core components of the third generation are new. The more efficient engines combined with a new eight-speed Tiptronic S — along with new technology such as 4D chassis control, rear axle steering, three-chamber air suspension, and tungsten-carbide-coated Porsche Surface Coated Brake (PSCB) — result in a phenomenal performance. Meanwhile, the updated lightweight chassis delivers top class driving dynamics.
On normal roads, it offers the best steering experience along with great safety features, including parking assistance with reversing camera, surround view, and adaptive cruise control. There’s also an optional lane-keeping system that can monitor the vehicle’s position using a camera, responding by providing steering support if you leave your lane without indicating. Great for long drives.
While the spacious interior makes it ideal as the ultimate family car, it’s also one for adventure. You can choose between five different drive and chassis modes,
depending on the terrain. So going off-road is never a problem. In fact, we took one onto the mountains in Dibba and were very impressed by how safe the drive was. We just chose the mode that suited the terrain (between “gravel” and “rock”) and went for it. This adjusts the car to suit the environment ensuring a safe drive. An optional off-road package includes a menu offering additional displays for the steering angle, transverse gradient and longitudinal incline.
Inside the car, noise is kept to a minimum, while the technology in its infotainment system is second to none. While it’s great for your passenger, however, it sometimes can be a little too much for the driver. So make sure you set up your navigation, apps and music before setting out and avoid distractions on the road.
The Cayenne isn’t for the faint-hearted — it’s a big vehicle — but if you’re looking for a strong and sturdy family car, or something to take you on the greatest of outdoor adventures, then it doesn’t get any better than this.