AutoTest File - 2003 Porsche Cayenne Turbo

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Sep 23, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield International Moderator Super Moderator

    Jul 6, 2001
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    Sport Redefined: The bar goes way up


    Finally, along comes an SUV offering that puts a popular misnomer to rest. For too long, that all-important first element in a sport/utility vehicle has been mostly absent in SUVs. Sure, they come equipped for hunting and fishing and other outdoorsy activities, but sport, in the true, athletic vehicle-dynamics sense of the word, has rarely been a part of the equation.

    Meet Porsche’s Cayenne Turbo. With Cayenne, the most revered of sports car makers has created an SUV that stands up on its flowing haunches to rival supercars in its performance.

    In reviewing past AutoFile stats, we found other SUVs don’t even bat in the same ballpark as the Cayenne. Its performance numbers truly astonish, comparing more closely with dedicated sport machines we’ve tested. Consider: The Cayenne’s 0-to-60-mph time of 5.16 seconds is in league with the BMW M3, which did the run in 5.10 seconds. The Cayenne eclipses the Nissan 350Z’s 5.66 seconds and the BMW Z4’s 5.88. The BMW X5 4.6is would have to be the next quickest SUV, reported to reach 60 mph in 6.2 seconds.

    With its monster brakes, Cayenne stops from 60 mph in 116 feet, edging out the M3 and Mercedes-Benz AMG C32, which take 117 feet. The Cayenne needed just six more feet to stop from 60 mph than did the 911 Turbo.

    The Porsche truck hustles through the slalom at 44.2 mph, making it more agile than the Mercedes SL500, at 43.7 mph, or the Ford SVT Cobra, at 43.8. One owner says he took his Cayenne to the track for the Porsche Driving Experience and after two laps, he felt like he was piloting a 911. Another says pushing his Cayenne through turns is very un-SUV-like.

    If it’s another kind of sport you seek, that powerful feeling of invincibility only a big truck can bring, the Cayenne will provide that, too. At 188.3 inches long and weighing 5192 pounds, it is bigger than the X5 and the Mercedes M-Class, with the high seating position that puts you in command of the highway.

    Away from the highway, and away from the polo fields, if you dare, the Cayenne will more than hold its own. As one owner says, its off-road abilities are in a class with Hummer and Land Rover, SUVs with a long history of off-road prowess.

    Cayenne can tow a ton of weight. It is rated at 7716 pounds, about the same as the Range Rover (7700 pounds, April 28), meaning those owners who wrote to tell us they use their vehicles to haul their race cars could conceivably pull two to the track. No wimpy crossover, this SUV.

    Like old Tuckers, the Cayenne’s bi-xenon headlights turn with the steering wheel. There is whine from the turbo-charger, and at low revs, some turbo lag.

    Inside, the ignition key is to the left of the steering column and the console is framed by raised grab bars, a sporty theme for sure. One tester complained Cayenne’s instrument panel is busy, but it is not as schizophrenic as platform-mate Touareg’s. There is a nice, anti-reflective glazing on the gauges, much like quality optics. As you might expect with German engineering, the audio system is too complicated, but who cares about coaxing out sound when you’re flexing this much muscle?

    In a nutshell, we concur with the owner who states that the Cayenne has no peer. It does everything a $92,000 SUV should do, and it does so exceptionally well. Its numbers make a case for supercardom in an SUV, and so we find ourselves asking, does it embody sports car emotion?

    It’s a fair question, in that it’s the stated aim of Porsche, but naturally, the answers vary. Owners seem largely smitten with their babies, sure that with Cayenne they have found the best of both worlds. Staffers are roundly impressed, no doubt, but some say Cayenne is too big to be fun, that its steering, while quick, is not that responsive, and its brakes are just plain grabby. Still others around here are simply blown away by this new king of SUVs, marveling at its ability to bend the laws of physics.

    What we can say for sure is that with the Cayenne, the sport bar in sport/utility vehicle is now super high.




    Stellar performance numbers
    Off-road prowess
    Towing champ


    Some turbo lag
    Complicated stereo
    Cluttered instrument panel


    Porsche Carrera 4S
    Mercedes-Benz ML500
    BMW X5



    Twin turbos, 450 horses, 0 to 60 in five seconds, quarter mile in 13.5 seconds, 165 mph top speed, as fast on a road course as a 911 Carrera! Not only does its on-road performance exceed that of most sports cars, its off-road capabilities are in the same class as Hummers and Land Rovers. Combine these capabilities with a luxurious and extremely functional interior and this is an SUV that has no peer. -Rich Stomp, Duluth, Ga.

    Great performance and handling, the interior is nicely done with a great instrument panel and it has an incredible stereo. The shift buttons on the steering wheel are the most convenient I’ve tried. The hatch is fine, but it is hard to close the back window, and I’m six feet tall. Complaints: Off the line there is a bit of hesitation, and the taillights have been replaced due to excessive fogging. -William Baker, Chicago

    It is fantastic and does everything you can ask of an enthusiast vehicle. I can take my whole family with me comfortably on a full day of shopping and pack in a week’s worth of groceries. Or I can go out on my own, put the suspension in sport, lower the ride height and blast around the twisties as fast as I can possibly go, stop on a dime and accelerate almost as fast as my Corvette. I can arrive at a fancy restaurant and feel like I am getting out of a piece of exotic machinery. Never have I been stopped so often by so many people admiring a car I owned. -Steve Van Leer, Spring Valley, N.Y.

    I have attended the Porsche Driving Experience in both a 911 and the Cayenne and after two laps in the Cayenne I totally forgot that I was in an SUV and not in a 911. While I was very impressed with its performance on the track, I was blown away by its off-track performance. I have owned numerous sports cars and SUVs and the Cayenne is truly amazing. The steering was a little heavy at first, but after a week of driving, it feels normal. -Dan Wright, Wichita Falls, Texas



    Base: $89,665
    As tested (includes $765 delivery): $96,090
    Owners paid; average: $60,500 to $92,000; $69,669

    Unibody four-door sport/utility vehicle

    Wheelbase (in): 112.4
    Track (in):64.6 front, 65.2 rear
    Length/width/height (in): 188.3/75.9/66.9
    Curb weight/GVWR (lbs): 5192/6790.2

    Fuel (gal): 26.4
    Cargo (cu ft): 19.07
    Towing (lbs): 7716

    4.5-liter/275.1-cid dohc turbocharged V8
    Horsepower: 450 @ 6000 rpm
    Torque (lb-ft): 457 @ 2250-4750 rpm

    Compression ratio: 9.5:1
    Fuel requirement: 87 octane

    Four-wheel drive
    Transmission: Six-speed automatic
    Final drive ratio: 3.7:1

    Front: Struts with air springs, double-track
    control arm, air shock absorbers with damper
    control and antiroll bar
    Rear: Struts with air springs, multi-arm axle,
    air shock absorber with damper control and
    antiroll bar

    Discs front and rear, ABS
    Aluminum 275/40R-20
    Michelin Diamaris 4x4 Radial X

    0-60 mph: 5.16 sec
    0-100 km/h (62.1 mph): 5.59 sec
    0-quarter-mile: 13.72 sec @ 102.6 mph

    20-40 mph (second gear): 2.1 sec
    40-60 mph (second gear): 2.9 sec
    60-80 mph (third gear): 3.7 sec

    60 mph-0: 116 ft

    490-foot slalom: 44.2 mph
    Lateral acceleration (200-foot skidpad): 0.81 g

    Idle: 43
    Full throttle: 70
    Steady 60 mph: 62

    EPA combined: 14.93 mpg
    AW overall: 12.4 mpg

    $35,570 after 48-month lease,
    56 percent of new vehicle price


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