Photographs by Alena Ozerova
Above: Porsche Cayenne S
Is there an automobile brand that stirs up as much pride in its owners as Porsche? Something about it just inoculates its believers with glory and thunderbolts. No car can be this good, you think. And then you drive one.
It was only twelve years ago that Porsche decided to extend its particular savvy into something beyond larky two-seaters. Although some snippy Porsche devotees hollered when the Cayenne SUV was introduced, there was no denying demand as the brand moved nearly 800,000 of them. Not to mention it was crazy fun to drive.
The competition at this level has been tough, so Porsche is just about to bring out a thorough makeover of the Cayenne, and the world press has been ogling this third rendition. There is much to ogle. The dramatic front- and rear-end lines now echo its sedan sibling, the Panamera, and so does the dramatically sleek dashboard.
The base version’s turbo V6 was bumped up to a creditable 340 horsepower, forty up from last year and good enough to negotiate the Post Road. But we like the Cayenne S upgrade with its twin-turbo 440 horse engine. If you’re going to have a Porsche, you’ll surely want one that’ll scorch the highway and raise some hell. (Beyond this is the hyper 550-horsepower Cayenne Turbo, in case it’s important to hit 175 mph on the entrance ramp.) Hybrid and diesel models are forthcoming.
But the time-honored raison d’être of Porsche ownership is the guarantee of sweet, precise handling. While many other brands offer buttons to change chassis dynamics (Normal, Sport, Sport Plus), and various weather and off-road programs in their all-wheel-drive system (standard on the Cayenne), Porsche goes further with PDCC—Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, a stabilization system that counteracts body roll in corners. You can add rear-wheel steering, resulting in a vehicle that will paw effortlessly through turns like a cat on the hunt.
The snobs might talk about the breaking down force provided by the self-adjusting roof spoiler, but any owner will just be bursting with a serious case of Porsche Pride.
Porsche Cayenne S
Base price $84,000
Drivetrain 3.0-liter V6, 440 horsepower, AWD
EPA Mileage Rating 17 city/ 22 highway