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New Cayenne: How Porsche is changing its gameplan

As Porsche's popular SUV comes of age, it balances fiery performance with environmentalism.

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At the launch, Porsche chairman Oliver Blume (above) described the Cayenne as "a bestseller and driver of growth for years, a car which opened many new markets for the brand".

Stuttgart

ON Aug 29, luxury sports car maker Porsche unveiled the third-generation of its Cayenne sports utility vehicle (SUV) at the Porsche Museum in its hometown of Stuttgart, Germany.

The big SUV looks similar to the model it replaces, yet its familiar facade hides the fact that this Cayenne is greatly improved all around, and much more suited to an era of heightened eco-consciousness.

The Cayenne, introduced in 2002, was a roaring success, and enabled the company to close 2003 with a record fiscal profit.

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At the launch, Porsche chairman Oliver Blume (right) described it as "a bestseller and driver of growth for years, a car which opened many new markets for the brand".

While the Cayenne has paid off, it was a gamble in 2002 for a company best known for its high-performance sports cars and racing pedigree. An SUV seemed anathema to that image.

It was also an affront to environmentalists. The standard 247 horsepower (hp) Cayenne was then consuming a ghastly 13.5L/100km, and emitted nearly 1kg of carbon dioxide (CO2) every 3km. In comparison, the new model's 3.0-litre, V6 turbocharged engine makes 93hp more, yet delivers 9.1L/100km and 207g/km CO2.

That sort of improvement is to be expected from most modern cars, but Porsche is also pepping up the Cayenne's green credentials on two fronts.

The first is a possible discontinuation of diesel power for the Cayenne. After the "dieselgate" scandal that saw Porsche parent Volkswagen in hot water with regulators for fudging the emissions figures for some cars, diesel's future is now uncertain.

Mr Blume told The Business Times at the launch event that a final decision on whether to build a diesel Cayenne will be made in the coming weeks. On the other hand, two plug-in petrol-electric hybrid variants of the new Cayenne are expected: an S E-Hybrid model with a V6 engine, and a range-topping Cayenne S E-Hybrid Turbo with a more powerful V8.

"We will definitely move towards plug-ins and more electrification," said Mr Blume. "The Cayenne will certainly profit from our plug-in hybrid strategy - and we think you will be surprised."

That could be a reference to a rumoured Cayenne Coupe with sportier styling and a purely electric drivetrain, probably using hardware derived from the Mission E, an electric sports car that Porsche will launch in 2019. Either way, as the Porsche named after a fiery pepper comes of age, its maker seems keen to stress that spicy chili pepper can also be green.


New 2018 Porsche Cayenne

Fast facts

  • Two variants due in S'pore early 2018
  • Porsche Cayenne: 2,995cc, V6 turbo, 340hp/450Nm, 0-100km/h 6.2 seconds, 245km/h, 9.1L/100km, 207g/km CO2
  • Porsche Cayenne S: 2,995cc, V6 biturbo, 440hp/550Nm, 0-100km/h 5.2 seconds, 265km/h, 9.3L/100km, 211g/km CO2
  • Two plug-in hybrid models in the works
  • MLB platform as seen on the Audi Q7, Bentley Bentayga
  • Up to 65kg lighter thanks to a fully-aluminium outer skin
  • New four-wheel steering, optional air suspension
  • New cockpit layout, 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment, active instruments
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