Porsche: Stylish SUV holds the fort
It's easy to look down on a fuel-guzzling performance SUV that, despite its off-road skills, will rarely leave the tarmac. But Porsche's Cayenne arguably saved the brand - and its iconic sports cars.
Thus, this new generation arrives with a fair bit of fanfare, especially in New Zealand where all the pre-launch international press and film visuals were shot.
The range opens with the 220kW/400Nm V6 petrol, 176kW/550Nm V6 diesel, 294kW/500Nm V8 S and the 368kW/700Nm V8 turbo. The addition to the line-up is a hybrid powerplant that fields 279kW and 580Nm at its combined peak - but the nature of hybrids means there's more shove at lower revs than this figure suggests.
All Cayennes are mated to an eight-speed auto with stop-start. There have been changes to the suspension and four-wheel-drive system plus revisions to the body and engine to trim weight.
All but the hybrid car have been on a radical diet, too.
That allows better power and acceleration - the Turbo will hit 100 from rest in 4.7 seconds - and cuts fuel use by 20 to 23 per cent. Oh yes - and bigger brakes slash claimed stopping distance.
This body looks smaller. The lines a soupcon sleeker and more elegant. In fact, it's longer with a longer track and wider wheelbase. A redesign makes the body wider sans mirrors but narrower when they're factored in (they're now door-mounted).
Specification is up and Porsche's Communication System with its big screen, satnav and Bluetooth are now standard.
A rear camera and auto-driving rear-view mirrors plus 14-way comfort seats are among additions to the S, hybrid and Turbo with the latter now rolling on 18-inch alloys. Let's face it we can't cover the lot in this space.
The company line
The Cayenne may have caused controversy when it launched but as Porsche NZ sales and marketing manager Greg Clarke says it was a "hit out of the ballpark" here, where the car made up half of NZ Porsche sales from 2003 to 2009.
Early adopters will buy the Turbo with the V6 entry-level diesel and petrol selling better in the long term.
What we say
Small price revisions mean this is still a pricey car, the V6 petrol opening the range at $137,000 and the stonking Turbo closing it at a vertiginous $270,000.
I'd expect a rear-view camera on a $137,000 SUV - the V6 gets only parking sensors with the camera a $1500 option. Boo.
On the road
Use all this potential and you'll get arrested. Save it for acceleration - and for dominating the road - and you'll discover close to the claimed thirst, at least according to the models I tried at the Thames Peninsula launch.
Why you'll buy one
It is the ultimate performance SUV, you may never head off road but like to know you could, and few will spot you've bought the base model.
Why you won't
You don't like the planet-trampling image or the ridicule an off-roader used only in Remmers attracts.