Return of the sporty SUV

Dhiram Shah | Updated on February 22, 2018

Speed machine The 2018 Porsche Cayenne is lighter and faster than its predecessor

Porsche’s new version of Cayenne is a state-of-the-art machine that makes driving seem effortless

I am behind the wheel of a 2018 Porsche Cayenne, going at triple-digit speeds on an uphill winding road. The highway ends and a mountainous dirt road begins, I tap the touch screen, select gravel as my driving mode and begin my ascent onto a steep slope. For a second it feels like I am experiencing this car in a state-of-the-art simulator. Everything is just so effortless. On the other hand, I am amazed how connected and fun to drive the Cayenne is. But what really stumps me is that considering the car weighs close to 2.1 ton it is astonishing how smoothly it operates.

It was way back in 2002 that Porsche announced its attention to make a sporty SUV. It was uncharted territory for the brand, and got Porsche a lot of criticism from loyalists, customers, fans and so forth. But the Cayenne was a success, in fact, so successful that even SUV-averse companies such as Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Rolls Royce are now entering this segment.

The 2018 Porsche Cayenne is lighter and faster than its predecessor. The increased use of aluminum and clever engineering has helped it shave off 65 kg. The styling is not drastically different. The rear gets an LED strip inspired from the 911 and the headlights get the insignia four-point daytime running lights. The exterior lines have been sharpened to keep it in line with the Panamera sedan. The Cayenne is also the first vehicle in its class to make use of an adaptive roof spoiler. Depending on its position, it provides down force to increase efficiency and stability. Should the situation arise to brake at high speeds the spoiler will act as an air brake to reduce the braking distance by a precious two meters.

Spoilt for choice

The Porsche Cayenne comes in three variants — the entry-level Cayenne, Cayenne S and the Cayenne Turbo. The Cayenne packs in a 3.0 litre twin turbo V6 petrol engine that churns out 340 hp and 450 nM of torque. It can zoom from standstill to 100 kmph in a claimed 5.9 seconds. The engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox (not the Porsche PDK) which routes power to all the four wheels.

Speed machine The 2018 Porsche Cayenne is lighter and faster than its predecessor


Contrary to the exteriors, the interiors are completely new and the cabin is modern, sleek and just beautiful. Settle in, and, you or the passengers would not want to step out. The first thing that caught my attention was the centrepiece 12.3-inch touch screen. According to me, it is the sharpest display in the industry and can even put the newer smart phones to shame. It features Porsche Control Management, an incredibly easy-to-use interface for all the car’s functions from entertainment to connectivity to a host of configuration settings. Porsche has also integrated a Siri-like voice assistant that understands over a 100 voice commands. Say ‘I am feeling hot’ and the cabin temperature is automatically reduced by two degrees. The Cayenne has literally the best of both worlds — driver-focused interiors inspired by the 911, its sportier cousin and a spacious cabin with ample boot space for luggage.

An effortless ride

Fujairah (an emirate of the UAE) and Oman made for an ideal testing ground for the Cayenne. The cabin is isolated from the outside to such an extent that driving on the tar-laden curving mountain roads I felt as though I was in the back-seat of an S Class. A spanking new air suspension system that, along with an electronic active roll bar heavily cut down on body roll even when taking on corners at high speeds. Entering Oman it was time to do some off-roading, depending on the terrain the Cayenne lets you choose from three driving modes — mud, gravel, and sand or rocks. They’ve tweaked the chassis and differential locks for better handling and drive quality. As soon as I chose gravel for our route, the air suspension lifted the car up while the PCM prepped the Cayenne for the path ahead — a winding dirt road that cut through a mountain range. The Cayenne made my ride extremely effortless. It also activated side cameras and sensors to notify me of rocks that may get too close for comfort for our steep descent. I must say, despite its size, the Cayenne handles extremely well, throw anything at it and it magically transforms it into speed and assurance.

The amalgamation of technology and performance in the 2018 Porsche Cayenne is somewhat brilliant. Sure, you can read specs sheets and brochures but it is only when you get behind the wheel that it all begins to make sense somehow.

Dhiram Shah is the Mumbai-based founder of

Published on February 21, 2018

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