We talk to someone who knows them all
The Porsche Cayenne has been considered the saviour of the Stuttgart brand by many, the car that brought them into more homes than ever before. Others will argue that is is actually the Boxster that should be thanked more, but that’s another discussion. When the first generation Cayenne came out, it was welcomed with purist complaint. And while yes it handled better than other SUVs, it was still... an SUV. Then the enthusiasts began seeing the light, and the direction of Porsche when they launched the GTS version. Things have been getting better ever since.
Stephan Lenschow was there when it all started, or rather he began with Porsche when the Cayenne project was beginning. He started working in other areas of the company before moving to the design and engineering team, and has worked on all three generations of the Cayenne. He is Manager Body Product Line SUV for the latest Stuttgart release.
The third generation doesn’t mess with the success of the line, rather it builds on it. More of the mod cons are there, a big screen system on the dash/console for example. But the best part is that the SUV strays ever more into sports sedan territory. In speaking with Stephan at the Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort prior to a two-country drive in the Middle East, he pointed out a few things that he thought were key for the new vehicle. Visually, the rear portion of the car is much more distinctive with the more pronounced shoulders you come to expect from Porsches and Porsche sportscars in particular. This combines with a new sleeker look for the rear tail light treatments to pull in the look nicely. An additional detail available on the Turbo models is the active rear wing on the roof, which is able to take any one of four positions depending on need. Particularly interesting is the air brake function, which moves the wing up quickly to its tallest position and which can cut braking by up to two meters.
On the technical side, he likes the way the interior combines SUV needs with the sportscar DNA even better than before. Certain things remain tactile, like the choosing of drive modes and such. This allows them to be manipulated without as much eye time away from the road. Other controls take advantage of the touch screen monitors. “This isn’t an iPhone car” he said, meaning touch screens don’t and wont control everything.
He also feels the car steers more directly than before, more precisely. It also takes advantage of technologies like the new three chamber air suspension system to tailor-make ride and dynamic reaction to driver need and desire. It uses a more lightweight chassis base that was designed for the flexibility to handle the needs of a sports car, an off reader and a touring car. Mixed tires, wider in the rear than in the front, also now link the SUV more to the sportscars than ever. Additionally, Porsche is premiering a new technology on the third generation Cayenne. Porsche Surface Coated Brake with tungsten-carbide layer (PCSB) is an option that is meant to increase friction while reducing wear and brake dust. Stuttgart is making it very clear that no matter what type of vehicle carries the crest, they aim to make it as true to their sporting and racing heritage as they possibly can.