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Porsche Cayenne History


2005, 2006 Porsche Cayenne

2005 Porsche Cayenne base model
The Porsche Cayenne lineup added this V-6-powered base model for 2005.

The Porsche Cayenne's first notable change came with introduction of a V-6 base model as an early model-year 2005 offering. Under the hood was a 3.2-liter version of partner Volkswagen's "VR6" engine, a narrow-angle design with iron block and four valves per cylinder (and also offered in the Volkswagen Touareg SUV). Outputs were 247 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 229 pound-feet of torque at 2500.

The V-6 Cayenne had fewer standard luxuries and that helped reduce curb weight to around 4,800 pounds and shrink its base price to $42,900, versus $55,900 for the 2005 Porsche Cayenne S and a hefty $88,900 for the Porsche Cayenne Turbo. A six-speed manual transmission arrived within a few months as a no-charge option for the entry-level Cayenne.

Porsche then went hog wild with the limited-edition 2006 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S. Priced at a heady $111,600 before options (and there were a few). the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S commanded a $21,400 premium over the "ordinary" Turbo. For that, the Turbo S delivered a massive 520 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 530 pound-feet of torque at just 2750 rpm. In each case, those were gains of 70 over the regular Turbo model.

The Cayenne Turbo S's main power gain came from a simple increase in turbo boost, by 4.3 pounds per square inch to 27.5. But Porsche also remapped the engine computer, installed larger intercoolers, and uprated the cooling system.

Predictably, Porsche also uprated the brakes for Cayenne Turbo S, to heroic diameters of 15 inches fore and 14.1 aft. Rolling stock was also enhanced with 20-inch SportTechno wheels and 275/40 high-performance tires. A little exclusive gilding here and there finished off the Turbo S.

The V-6 Cayenne and the Cayenne Turbo S bookend Cayenne's early years performance story, which is somewhat mixed.

The V-6 wasn't as pokey as its modest power and Porsche's 9.7-second 0-60 mph claim might suggest. Car and Driver, in fact, got 8.8 seconds in the benchmark sprint, lively enough for an SUV. Still, the base Cayenne needed a determined driver to give its best, especially on twisty hill-and-dale routes.

The Turbo S, by contrast, was a rocket, as fast as some Porsche 911s. C/D clocked 4.9 seconds 0-60, just 0.1-second off Porsche's quote. Even so, the magazine thought it "pathetic that the Turbo S can't outrun a $40,000, 420-hp Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 or an $86,275 503-hp Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG and has a back seat no more accommodating than a Honda Accord's."

2006 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S
The 2006 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S had 520 horsepower and cost $111,600.

The regular Turbo was no slouch, at 5.0 seconds flat in C/D testing. But the non-turbo Cayenne S was probably the best all-around choice. C/D logged 0-60 in 6.6 seconds -- fast enough for most any soccer mom -- and predictable premium-fuel "economy" of 16 miles per gallon overall. That was versus 12 mpg for the Turbo and a disappointing 15 mpg for the V-6.

The Cayenne S was also the most popular model, suggesting consumers judged it the best dollar value too.

As for the burning question about dynamic ability, the consensus was that Cayennes did drive like Porsches -- big, tall, heavy Porsches. Air suspension or no, these were among the most athletic of SUVs, but a few hundred pounds less weight would have made them even more agile and fun to drive, something most every road-test mentioned.

Even the Turbo, with all its exploitable power, couldn't escape the "mass effect." After testing one, Car and Driver decided that "rather than digitally morph a Range Rover with a 911 Turbo, Porsche has created a vehicle that feels like a superb all-wheel-drive tourer with an elephant on its back." And while the air suspension did sharpen up handling on its firmest setting, it made for a lumpy-thumpy ride even in Normal mode.

So the Cayenne emerged as another Porsche engineering marvel that was, perhaps, more clever than it had to be. Then again, the BMW X5, Mercedes M-Class and especially the Range Rover were just as much overkill in some ways, and Porsche no doubt felt obliged to match or outdo their high-tech features just to compete. Besides, luxury-SUV buyers expected lots of gadgets for their money.

"Make no mistake," said Car and Driver. "The Cayenne Turbo is an extraordinary machine, beautifully crafted, sumptuously provisioned...It is the fastest SUV on the planet, and it has more off-road chops than Sir Edmund Hillary...It is the 'Porsche of SUVs.' [But we] had hoped for a little more Porsche and a little less SUV."

Despite the critical commentary, the Cayenne fast established itself as the best selling Porsche of all time, to the undoubted joy of Herr Wiedeking and company accountants.

Global calendar-year sales through 2006 topped 150,000, a yearly average of 25,000, with over 60,000 deliveries in North America alone. Though that volume was modest by even BMW or Mercedes standards, it was huge for Porsche.

Nonetheless, Cayenne had suffered sales reversals in 2005 and 2006, to 14,804 and 11,429, respectively, in the U.S. The losses reflected sharp spikes in global gasoline prices that crimped demand for most high-power SUVs, though new competition was also a factor. As a result, Porsche decided not to offer a 2007-model Cayenne, electing to sell out remaining stocks of 2006s.

The Cayenne team back in Germany, meanwhile, was hard at work on heavily revamped 2008 versions of its SUV, and you can read about the 2008 Porsche Cayenne on the next page.

Porsche Cayenne Turbo S interior
The Porsche Cayenne Turbo S cabin was dressed in high-grade appointments.

Check out the complete story of Porsche cars, including these fabulous models:

Porsche 356

Porsche 911

Porsche 914

Porsche 924, 944, 968

Porsche 928

Porsche 959

Porsche Boxster

Porsche Cayenne

Porsche Cayman

For prices, reviews, and more on Porsche from the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • Porsche Cayenne
  • 2007 Porsche Cayenne
  • 2006 Porsche Cayenne

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