Porsche turns up the heat

2011-02-11 11:41

Gone are the days when Porsche was a dream brand within reach of a select few. Now, quite a few drivers sit behind the wheel of this sporty badge – well, at least those who live in upmarket locations and enjoy overseas shopping trips a few times a year.

Porsche is still a premium brand, but these days one can easily pick up a pre-owned model for less than R500 000. And with the launch of the new Cayenne range, there is a car for any kind of need.

The range consists of a V6, diesel, S-hybrid, S-V8 and the beastly Twin-Turbo V8 engine dubbed “The Hero Car”.

Based on the Carrera GT and the Panamera four-door sedan, the new Cayenne has subtle yet distinctive changes. The steering wheel is a bit smaller, the seat positioning is different and the car appears closer to the ground – making it more sporty than before on all levels. Lighter materials have also been used and the car is now 185kg lighter than the previous model.

All the models include an auto stop/start system to enhance fuel efficiency and an automatic seven-speed transmission is standard. The tiptronic S gearbox is optional. And there are also bigger brakes and added technology such as lane change assist.

On the looks front, the Porsche crest is now on the bonnet instead of the bumper and it sports more distinctive lines on the bonnet that give it a narrow shape. The wings are higher, giving the car a more aggressive stance along with the large front scoop with two smaller intake vents on the sides.

Even though the Cayenne is big and might appear bulky – after all, it is synonymous as the sexy and fast two-door sports car – the fact that it bears a Porsche badge cancels out any feelings of contempt. And because it’s so big, it can only mean the power coming from its engines is just as immense.

The materials inside are luxurious and makes you want to run your fingers across the dashboard and roof linings. It’s very comfortable and spacious. Even the rear seats can recline. I looked hard for any kind of flaw or just something to disapprove of, but I just couldn’t find any.

Porsche is a brand of perfection and surreal quality. That does not mean they don’t break, but then again you’d have to try very hard and drive extremely recklessly to get it to one of the three brand centres in the country.

The S-hybrid is one of the two models which impressed me the most. With 245kW of power coming from the 3.0 V6 engine and 34kW from the electric motor, the combined output is 279kW of power and 580Nm of torque. That means the electric motor is the second engine within the car and works as the hybrid function by saving energy. It works just like the Honda’s hybrid CR-Z electric engine combined with the i-VTEC technology. Energy is transferred back to the battery of the car and recharges it. The Cayenne certainly has one of the most powerful hybrids in the country.

Then there’s the Twin-Turbo V8. It’s a car in a league of its own. If there’s still any doubt about the hulk-like car, you know you’re driving a Porsche when you are on an open road. Power figures come in at 368kW of power and a ridiculous 700Nm of torque from the 5.0 litre engine. It eats up tar and gravel like a monster and with its much bigger front-end and grille than the rest of the range, its looks are so intimidating you would want to get out of its way.

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