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2008 Porsche Cayenne Review - First Drive

Rear View
Rick Péwé | Writer
Posted August 1, 2007
Photographers: Courtesy of the Manufacturer, Kevin McNulty

Skipping a year can help

We know, you are all wondering about the '07 Cayenne since you want to go snag one now. Well, either find an '06 model or wait for the new '08, as the folks at Porsche figured they didn't want toconfuse customers with a slightly different model. That makes us wonder about the target audience of these ultracapable speed and dirt machines. Will the new '08 cross the Rubicon with ease? If power, performance, and traction was all that was needed, then yes it could. But the Cayenne is built primarily as a road vehicle, since the clearance issues and tire selection don't cut it in the tough stuff.

We were lucky enough to spend some quality time in the Cayenne off the beaten path in Cadiz, Spain. We found a road that normal Porsche drivers would never attempt, but hey, we're 4x4 journalists!

When on-road king Porsche first introduced the Cayenne four years ago, people wondered why. As the bestselling vehicle they currently produce (even though sales are down 24 percent), the question is moot. It is an extremely competent rig off the road, and for most buyers the Rubicon wouldn't even cross their mind. The awesome on-road handling and control more than make up for this ride's raison de 'etre, and putting it in the dirt and rocks makes you wonder what these Germans could come up with if they were allowed to build a true off-road machine.

But the new Cayenne is a more capable and refined machine than ever, and horsepower, torque, amenities, performance, and price are all heavily increased for the 2008 model year. All engines receive the Direct Fuel Injection, which increases both economy figures as well as power. The king of engines is a 4.8L twin-turbo'ed V-8 with 500 ponies at 6,000 rpm, and 516 lb-ft of torque at a flat rpm range of 2,250-4,500. Impressive, no? It shoots the 5,000-pound rig from 0-60 in a flat 4.9 seconds, and EPA figures are 19 mph on the highway. Of course you're saddled with a six-speed auto unless you opt for the little 3.6L V-6 with half the torque and horsepower figures, and a 7.5 0-60 time.

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But enough of the uber-power stuff, since we use our 4x4s off the road. Of course, the new Cayenne is a full-time unit, with a 62 percent rear, 38 percent front drive split, and a low range with a respectable 2.71 ratio. Couple that with the alphabet soup PTM (Porsche Traction Management) transfer case and brake traction control for a incredibly good traction system. The antirollback technology, descent control, and trailer towing safety systems are all features standard that newer domestic SUVs are just now receiving. Of greatest use and coolness are the front and rear active sway bars with hydraulic swivel motors. Dubbed PDCC for Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, this system keeps the Cayenne virtually flat on turns up to about 0.63 g's, yet uncouple at low off-road speeds for maximum wheel articulation. Combined with the air suspension control with three separate settings, this technical innovation is right on the mark.

Of course, the slightly new exterior design featuring slanted eyeballs will raise some eyebrows, and the minor grille revisions seem a bit overdone. Still, combined with the plethora of amenities and do-dads on the interior, this will be a good seller for those that must have a Porsche SUV. Of course, the $43k base translates quickly to the $94,000 top ticket, but since when did that scare away someone who knows what he wants? We'll be sure to see if the eligible Cayenne will compete in our 2008 4x4 of the Year test next October, and report back whether or not the price-to-feature benefit is worth the dough.

With a twin turbo 4.8L V-8, you can see why Truck Trend editor Mark Williams is drooling a bit. This engine offered 500 horses and 516 lb-ft of torque, all at only $94,000. What a deal!

Vehicle: '08 Porsche Cayenne Turbo
Base Price: $93,700
Engine: 4.8L DOHC 32-valve twin-turbo V-8
Horsepower: 500 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 516 @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed auto
Curb Weight (lb): 5,193
EPA Mileage (city/hwy. mpg): 15/19
Wheelbase (in): 112.4
Length (in): 188.8
Width (in): 75.9
Height (in): 66.7
Seating Capacity: Five
Head Room (in., front/rear): NA
Leg Room (in., front/rear): NA
Maximum Cargo Volume (cu ft): 62
Approach Angle (degrees): Varies with air suspension setting
Breakover Angle (degrees): Varies with air suspension setting
Departure Angle (degrees): Varies with air suspension setting
Ground Clearance (in): 8.5-10.7 (varies with air suspension setting)

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