Reviews

2011 Porsche Cayenne Driving Impressions


During our time in and around Birmingham, Alabama, and at Barber Motorsports Park, we were able to drive the Hybrid, Turbo and S versions of the Cayenne, and we came away impressed.

The Cayenne in any form is a wonderful, quiet, plush, and luxurious highway cruiser, but the V8 S version and the Turbo will find their way around a racetrack with amazing alacrity, very little body lean in hard corners, and no bad behavior. The Turbo version is rated by Porsche to run the 0-60 mph sprint in a mere 4.4 seconds, and has a top speed of 172 mph, about 50 mph higher than a typical SUV. There are very few twin-turbocharged, direct-injection V8 engines in the SUV world, and this one generates 500 horsepower and 516 foot-pounds of torque, which gives the Cayenne absolutely breathtaking performance, but also allows towing of over 7700 pounds.

The highway cruising behavior of any of the Cayenne models is exemplary. The air spring suspension and the big tires act together as giant shock absorbers for whatever dips, ruts, hole and bumps are in the road.

The brakes on the Cayenne are enormous, with six-pistons calipers up front and four-piston calipers at the rear, with 15.3-inch front discs and 14-inch rear discs, enough braking power to stop a freight train on a dime.

The hybrid version is meant to be clean and green without being boring or underpowered, and Porsche has done a wonderful job mating a real engine, a real transmission (instead of a CVT), and a clever hybrid package of battery, motor, charging system and electronic controls.

The Porsche Dynamic Light System (PDLS) is a further development of the existing Bi-Xenon light system that offers not only dynamic and static cornering lights, but also continuous light leveling and speed-sensitive headlight control with separate modes for roads and interstates. The system is standard on the Cayenne Turbo and an option on the other models.

The new Lane Change Assistant (LCA) monitors traffic in the adjacent lanes up to 230 feet behind the vehicle, including the driver's blind spots. As soon as another vehicle enters the blind spots or approaches rapidly from behind within a range of 180 feet, an LED warning light illuminates on the inside of the corresponding exterior mirror. If the driver uses the turn signal, the flashing light appears to alert the driver of the approaching vehicle.

Adaptive Cruise Control uses radar to monitor and maintain the preset distance between the Cayenne and vehicles in front of it by restricting the throttle or applying the brakes. If the vehicle in front decelerates, ACC will continue to reduce speed, all the way down to a complete stop. ACC operates at speeds from 20 to 100 mph. The required braking power is calculated by the system and by Porsche Stability Management (PSM) building up brake pressure. If the distance between the Cayenne and the vehicle ahead becomes too small, the system alerts the brake standby function to shorten the stopping distance required. It also pre-fills the brake system for quicker response and gives the driver both a visual and an acoustic warning and an additional brake pulse.

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