Porsche Cayenne: An off-roader that thinks it is a 911 racer

The new Cayenne during testing in Crete. It has a sporty character with outstanding off-road capabilities.
Updated 11 November 2017

Porsche Cayenne: An off-roader that thinks it is a 911 racer

CRETE: The launch to international media of the third-generation Porsche Cayenne in Crete recently represents the third chapter in a success story that started in 2002. Since the launch of the first-generation Cayenne 15 years ago, the company has sold more than 770,000 units of the best-selling Porsche car ever.

In the latest version, Porsche has the balance right between the dynamics of a sports car and the comfort of a touring car. The Cayenne has many technical components from the 911 range and that shows in its performance on mountainous roads and tight chicanes. This Cayenne has come closer to its roots as a sports car than ever before.
The Cayenne continues to offer outstanding off-road capabilities. The exterior design of the new Cayenne got the proportions and aerodynamics right. To emphasize the sporty character of the car, Porsche has added an adaptive roof spoiler and air brake for increased performance and shorter braking distance. Cayenne Turbo is the first SUV in the world to have this feature, which has always been the reserve of sports cars.
The car comes fully connected with onboard WiFi hotspot, online navigation with real-time traffic information, Bluetooth interface, online voice control and four USB ports. The Cayenne has extensive assistance systems including adaptive cruise control with stop/go function, lane-keeping and lane-changing assist and night-vision capabilities. Most functions can be controlled from the 12.3-inch-wide touchscreen.
At launch, early next year, the new Cayenne will come in three models. The top-performance model is Cayenne Turbo with a 550bhp bi-turbo V8 engine, which propels the car to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds. Adding a Sports Chrono package improves this performance to 3.9 seconds. Top speed is 286km/h.
Second in line is the Cayenne S, which is powered by a 2.9 liter bi-turbo V6 engine generating 440bhp. It reaches 100km/h in 5.2 seconds and achieves a top speed of 265km/h.
The base model Cayenne has a 3.0 liter six-cylinder turbo engine delivering 340bhp. It accelerates to 100km/h in 6.2 seconds and goes on to a top speed of 245km/h.
All engines are connected to an eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission, which combines faster shifting and comfortable smooth starting with improved initial acceleration performance. All Cayenne models achieve top speed in sixth gear with seventh and eighth gears designed for cruising comfort on long journeys.
To contain the substantial power of the Cayenne engines, Porsche has developed a new surface-coated brake, composed of discs coated with hard tungsten-carbide layers, which improve responsiveness, lower wear and tear and ensures 30 percent longer service life. Porsche says that it is the world premiere of the system.
Porsche has developed an adaptive three-chamber air suspension. In addition to comfort on sporty drives, the system controls ground-clearance off-road. The system is standard on the Cayenne turbo and an option on other models. Also, for the first time, the Cayenne is available with rear-axle steering as an option, which improves driving dynamics and reduces turning circle.
The new Cayenne is available to order but first deliveries to the GCC will reach the region in February 2018. Prices for Saudi Arabia are SR308,600 ($82,250) for the Cayenne; SR375,800 for the Cayenne S and SR573,700 for the Cayenne Turbo.


Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII review: The car of kings and presidents

Updated 20 May 2020

Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII review: The car of kings and presidents

  • Our reviewer gets behind the wheel of the ultimate symbol of motoring power and luxury

DUBAI: You can reel off all the petrolhead data you like about the Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII — 6.75 liters, 560 brake horse power, V12 twin-turbo engine, 900 newtons of torque and a maximum speed of 250kph — but all of that pales into insignificance before the Spirit of Ecstasy.

The classic sculpture that sits on top of the hood tells you this is a Rolls-Royce, probably the best car in the world. And it is not just any old Rolls, either. This is a Phantom, the British carmaker’s top-of-the-range, most elite model.


Phantoms have been conveying kings, presidents and other rulers for decades. When Sir Winston Churchill wanted to impress his new ally, King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, he gave him a Phantom III variation as a gift. The car is still much loved by royalty throughout the Middle East, and is the ultimate symbol of power, status and luxury.

Our reviewer Frank Kane gets behind the wheel of the ultimate symbol of motoring power and luxury: Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII. (Supplied)

Just getting behind the wheel of one boosts your ego several notches. People turn their heads to stare, nudge their friends to take a look, and take photos for immediate Instagramming. A Phantom owner is an influencer.

For a long time it was the ultimate chauffeur car, and no doubt those who own one will be sufficiently well off to afford a driver, too. But it would be unforgivable to miss out on the opportunity to drive this incredible piece of engineering yourself.

German car manufacturer BMW, which has owned Rolls-Royce since 1998, realizes this and is increasingly aiming the car at the self-drive market.

The one I was lucky enough to drive, courtesy of the AGMC dealership in Dubai, was extra special: an extended wheelbase version, some 22 centimeters longer than a “normal” Phantom. This provides even more space in the back for a head of state to spread out while reviewing crucial documents, host a mini-summit, or simply relax.

You might think a car this big will be difficult to drive, but that is not the case at all. The power- assisted steering is as light as a feather, and the four-wheel steering eases you effortlessly round any sharp curves. The German sensor technology makes parking and maneuvering simple, even for such a big, powerful car.

Our reviewer Frank Kane gets behind the wheel of the ultimate symbol of motoring power and luxury: Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII. (Supplied)

On Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai, you really get the chance to put the thoroughbred through its paces. An eight-speed automatic gearbox zips you from standing to 100kmh in 5.4 seconds, which is fast enough to overtake almost anything else on the road, even in super sports car-crazy Dubai.

When you hit 120kmh, the windshield display politely reminds you of the fact. It needs to do that, because inside the car is as silent as if you were still stationary. Engine noise is virtually non-existent even at high speed, and the suspension is so perfectly balanced you feel like you are gliding along on a cloud, more like a hover vehicle than rubber-on-the road.

Where to begin on the interior? The dashboard on the Phantom I drove was a classy display of Burgundy red leather — matching the seat and deep-pile caret — and polished chrome instruments.

It oozes British craftsmanship mixed with German technology. The dash itself can be customized — “bespoke”, as Rolls-Royce calls it — with any number of stylish motifs. In the Arabian Gulf, Islamic calligraphic themes are popular, as are ocean features such as shells and waves.

Our reviewer Frank Kane gets behind the wheel of the ultimate symbol of motoring power and luxury: Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII. (Supplied)

The rear is like a double-seat, first-class cabin on an aircraft, complete with in-flight entertainment in seat-back consoles, a drinks cabinet and curtains that close at the touch of a button to envelop you in luxury. If you want to doze during a long, chauffeured journey, the starlight ceiling display should help you drop off.

“I could live here,” said one passenger I treated to a drive. Which is appropriate, because the Phantom VIII will cost about the same as a reasonably sized Dubai apartment. About AED 2.2m ($600,000) will get you started, before adding those “bespoke” features.

For these, the sky is the limit.

I’ve driven quite a few luxury cars in Dubai and make a habit, when I finish a test-drive, of telling the showroom staff: “That’s the best car I’ve ever driven.” They appreciate the compliment, even when I am faking it.

With the Phantom VIII, I sincerely meant it.