REVIEW: Porsche’s all-new Cayenne takes on desert terrain

Rachel McArthur reviews Porsche's new Cayenne in Dubai for Arab News. (Supplied)
Updated 31 October 2018

REVIEW: Porsche’s all-new Cayenne takes on desert terrain

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?).

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THE LIST

Cayenne starting prices

SR308,600 Cayenne

SR375,800 Cayenne S

SR573,700 Cayenne Turbo

SR392,167 Cayenne E-Hybrid

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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.


Forza Ferrari - the view from the cockpit of the famous brand

Updated 24 June 2020

Forza Ferrari - the view from the cockpit of the famous brand

  • The master carmaker’s tribute to Italian style and power speeds you into Formula 1 territory

DUBAI: I think the gravity — no pun intended — of my situation hit home when Sep, the assistant at the Al-Tayer Ferrari showroom in Dubai, pointed to the feature on the dashboard display of the F8 Tributo that measures the g-force hitting your body as the supercar accelerates.

“People are impressed by that,” he said, before giving me a very personal demonstration of the power of the car when he put it into “launch” mode and took off down a thankfully empty side road.

I was immediately flattened against my seat by the sheer power of the vehicle — 0-100 kph in a few exhilarating seconds, with the 3.9 litre twin-turbo engine screaming like a fighter jet.


Ferrari, the famous Italian sports car maker, is about power, of course. In the driver’s seat, you are immediately conscious of the immense potency your right foot commands.

Just a little touch on the gas is enough to take you past virtually everything else on the road. Floor it, and you can imagine yourself in Formula One territory.

Just one little Ferrari moment: I’m at a red signal on King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Street, and a rival fast car model pulls up beside me. He looks at the Tributo, looks at me, and grips his wheel tightly with eyes fixed on the light. He wants a racing start.

When the signal changes, I let him get a few meters ahead, before gunning the gas and easily overtaking him in the next twenty meters. “Forza Ferrari!” I exclaim as I watch him recede in the rear view.

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READ MORE: Frank Kane's Big Interview - Ferrari accelerates in the Middle East — with a passion

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The Tributo is named in homage to the long tradition of Ferrari mid-engine sports cars known as “berlinetta” — two-seater coupes that go back to at least the 1970s. Unveiled last year in Geneva, it is the latest refinement in a class of supercars that Ferrari has made its own. Forget all the pretenders, there is only one Prancing Horse.

The one that I drove was not in classic Ferrari red, but rather in a more sophisticated silver. The body lines are aerodynamically elegant, while the bulging wheel arches and air-intakes give the car a muscular look to go with that 710 bhp engine. Long, sleek and powerful, it’s easily the sexiest car I’ve ever driven.

The designers at Maranello in Italy, the home of Ferrari where they are all built, call the interior the “cockpit”, and I felt like I was in a “Top Gun” movie. The cobalt blue leather harmonized with silvery graphite fixtures, and both contrasted nicely with the yellow Ferrari motif in the middle of the steering wheel.

This is oval shaped, reminiscent of a Formula One wheel, but probably also to allow you in and out of the car with some dignity.

This is definitely not a family car. There is cockpit room for you and your passenger, and behind you, close enough to make you jump when you gun the accelerator, is the engine. A Perspex cover shows off the bright red engine casing to any admirers — and there are plenty on the streets and hotel forecourts of Dubai.

On Sheikh Zayed Road, away from the speed bumps that you have to negotiate with care in such a low vehicle, the car seems to enjoy its natural high-speed environment. It can be difficult to stay within speed limits. The Tributo gets to 120 kph effortlessly, but you can tell it wants to go faster. It feels almost cruel to hold it back.

When Sep showed me the controls outside the showroom, he flicked into the computerized driving history. Although the car had only driven just over 100 km in its lifetime since arriving from Italy, it had managed to hit 295kph on one occasion.

Sep put that down to a Ferrari engineer putting it through its paces at a special track in Dubai. Imagine the g-forces from that little workout

Ferrari Italia is recovering well from the pandemic lockdown. At the height of the crisis the production lines at Maranello were turned over to ventilator manufacture, but now it is shipping cars again. The next big launch in the Middle East will be the Roma, which is designed to epitomize the “dolce vita” of the Eternal City.

Ferrari and eternity are fitting companions. There will always be the Prancing Horse.