Quick. Take a guess at the best-selling Porsche model in America. 911? Nope. Boxster? Wrong again. Here’s a hint: It’s an SUV. That’s right, the Cayenne is the best-selling model in Porsche’s lineup and, since its 2002 introduction, it has redefined the SUV segment. Numerous competitors now offer a sporting family hauler to try to compete with the Cayenne, but unfortunately for the competition, there’s no comparing to the Cayenne. And as good as it is, the Cayenne continues to get better.
Redesigned for 2011, the Porsche Cayenne S (MSRP $64,400) represents the upper echelon in both on- and off-road performance while still being able to carry a family of four in comfort and luxury. At first glance, it may look smaller and more trim, but the 2011 Cayenne shares and refines most of the same dimensions as the previous generation.
The one dimension that is totally different is the curb weight category. Porsche engineers managed to put the new Cayenne on a serious diet, trimming some 400 pounds by using lighter-weight body panels and deleting the former dual-range transfer case.
This diet has benefited the new Cayenne in numerous areas including improved fuel economy to the tune of 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway, a quicker zero-to-60 time of 5.6 seconds and athletic handling that rivals many sports cars weighing far less than the Cayenne’s 4,500-pound curb weight.
Not only did Porsche engineers manage to reduce weight, but by incorporating Direct Fuel Injection (DFI), VarioCam Plus and a two-stage intake manifold, they also managed to squeeze 15 extra horses from the 4.8-liter V8, for a total of 400 hp and 369 lb/ft of torque.
Porsche Traction Management all-wheel drive comes standard on the Cayenne S, as does an all-new eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission, helping it achieve a blistering 5.6-second zero-to-60 time. As far as improving fuel economy, the Tiptronic S also plays a crucial part; its Auto Start/Stop function turns off the engine when stopped, and as soon as you lift your foot off the brake, the engine restarts seamlessly, helping maximize fuel efficiency.
A 400-pound trimming is just one of the many changes to the completely redesigned 2011 Cayenne. The discerning eye can pick up the exterior styling changes such as more rounded fenders, different taillights and a larger front grille, but the 2011 Cayenne is also lower to the ground to improve its already deft handling characteristics.
As great as the Cayenne S is on the outside, the redesign has benefited it even more on the inside. Using the same center console and instrument cluster as the opulent Panamera, the 2011 Cayenne has by far one of the most exquisite cabins in the motoring world. Who else would make an SUV with a center-mounted tachometer? Sitting in the cockpit of a Cayenne, you might forget you’re driving an all-wheel drive sport utility vehicle.
The Cayenne S comes standard with 12-way power front seats in grained leather, a 100-watt Porsche CD/MP3 audio system featuring a seven-inch color touchscreen display with Bluetooth® capability. For serious audiophiles, the Cayenne S can be equipped with a Bose surround-sound system or a 16-speaker, 1,000-watt Burmester High-End surround-sound system. The options list is extensive including navigation, adaptive cruise control, front and rear park assist, panorama roof system, ventilated front seats and a rear-seat entertainment system.
A power liftgate comes standard on the Cayenne S, and to make sure you don’t damage your rear hatch on a low-hanging garage door, you can program it to open to a custom height. Have some cargo that needs towing? The Cayenne can pull up to 7,700 pounds.
Let’s talk handling for a moment. The 2011 Cayenne S has an extensive acronym list not limited to PASM, PDCC, PCCB, PTM and PTV Plus. What do all these acronyms mean?
Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) is an electronic damping control system that dynamically adjusts each individual shock absorber in all conditions, both on- and off-road, through three settings – Comfort, Normal and Sport. PASM enables greater driver control of the Cayenne S while enhancing both comfort and safety.
To help virtually eliminate body sway, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) uses hydraulic motors on active anti-rollbars, responding to steering angle and lateral acceleration to produce a stabilizing force to counteract lateral body movement. In the “Off-Road” setting, the anti-rollbars articulate more for greater wheel travel, improving traction on uneven dirt roads.
Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) are an available option for those who want the ultimate braking performance from their Cayenne S. Made from a pressure and heat-treated carbon fiber composite, the PCCB disc rotors are not only harder than cast iron, they’re also 50 percent lighter and more heat and corrosion resistant, enabling the Cayenne S to stop in shorter braking distances with quick, precision pedal response and virtually zero brake fade.
Porsche Traction Management (PTM) is a dynamic all-wheel drive system featuring an electronically variable, computer-controlled, multi-plate clutch system for seamless power distribution between the front and rear wheels. Whether traveling on long highway stretches, through tight back road corners or on slippery off-road conditions, PTM ensures the Cayenne S always receives optimal traction to enhance driver control and safety.
Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus) features variable distribution of engine torque and braking force to the rear wheels to help optimize driving dynamics and stability. When the Cayenne S enters a right-hand corner, slight brake pressure is applied to the inside rear wheel, helping steer the Cayenne S with confidence.
These features all result in a vehicle that handles better than any other SUV on the road. In fact, with the Cayenne, you may find yourself out-cornering some sports cars.
Defying the laws of physics seems like just an every day occurrence to the Cayenne, both on- and off-road. Optional adjustable air suspension with six height settings, adjustable traction vectoring control, hydraulically actuated anti-rollbars and all-wheel drive with locking center and rear differentials are all features that aid the Cayenne in its incomparable athleticism. And if that’s not enough, an enhanced speed-sensitive hydraulic steering system helps keep steering light and responsive at all speeds.
In the end, a machine like the Cayenne is truly a rare breed set far apart from its competitors. Being able to own a vehicle that can tow heavy loads, carry a family of four in comfort, tackle the worst of Mother Nature, out handle and accelerate many sports cars and still be able to dress to the nines for a night on the town is remarkable. It’s the ultimate balance between SUV and sports car, further proving “There is no Substitute” for the 2011 Porsche Cayenne S. Schedule a test-drive today and find out for yourself.