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Porsche Cayenne: Porsche Cayenne: one hot SUV

Friday, June 02, 2017

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THE 2017 Porsche Cayenne takes the term 'having your cake and eat it too' literally. Want luxury, space, off-road capability in a fun to drive package — it's all there.From its inception in 2002, the Porsche Cayenne has been a divisive vehicle amongst the Porsche purists. Many scoffed at the fact that a company world-renowned for its sports cars would delve into the mundane waters of the sports utility vehicle. The Cayenne is anything but mundane, especially in its second generation, and just like the Porsche, has long silenced those who questioned the rear-engined configuration of the 911. They've spent the time refining their engineering decision.

Originally criticised for its appearance, the sheet metal is all new for 2017 leading to a very handsome and sporty visage. There are the subtle familiar styling cues that ensure its Porsche lineage. More significantly, it manages that rare ability to blend in, yet stand out, like many infinitely expensive items. At first glance, it seems simple, even non-descript, then after further examination its true nature is exposed, more so to those 'in the know'.

There are several ways to get into the Cayenne. On standard suspension, you pull yourself into the driver's seat, or more appropriately, thrones, as they're covered in the supplest richly coloured leather you could imagine — all with the legendary Porsche crest embossed in the headrest. If you go for the optional air-suspension, you can aid the modesty of female company by having the vehicle lower itself to further aid ingress. Once inside, the seats can be adjusted between 'lord of my domain' heights to sports car low, totally powered, of course.

If the colour of the leather-lined cabin wasn't vivid enough, the full-length panoramic sunroof floods in plenty accentuating light, keeping things airy and enhancing the sense of space. Claustrophobia will not be a word used in any language describing the Cayenne's interior, even in the rear where passengers will also partake in the perfectly stitched acres of cowhide coverage. Not to your liking, simply open your wallet and customise.

The Porsche-shaped key is a throwback to the legacy of vehicles past. Push button start is standard. Its true nature is to keep track of the three available memory settings. With everything configured to the driver's taste — from seating, to radio stations, to climate control — the Cayenne shapes itself to the keyholder's whims. And there is much to play with. The touchscreen infotainment system is responsive and intuitive like a high-end smartphone, which is good since there is so much to go through.

Fortunately, the key features are just a solid button press away. It takes a while for many to notice, but once the 3.6-litre V6 is fired up with its 300bhp on tap, all will see that.

Porsche took the 'sport' part of the utility seriously. Like every Porsche ever built, it's the rev counter that sits middle centre stage in the instrument binnacle. Select one of the three drive and suspension modes, and be on your way. At low RPMs, the engine note is near invisible, with only the soft jolt of the automatic start/stop offering hits that it's on. Explore the upper reaches of the rpm band, especially in Sport+ mode and a throaty exhaust note spills gently into the cabin. Not that it matters, since occupants are thrust forward as the throttle and steering gains an athletic weight to them.

The Cayenne is at home cruising through Corporate Area traffic in total serenity, can tackle real off-road obstacles with its four-wheel drive system and can give the average sports car a run for its money. While the 2017 Cayenne does start at $19 million, like all things Porsche, it's up to your heart and bank account to determine price paid.

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