The 2008 Porsche Cayenne lineup, from left: the Turbo, S model, and Base model.
Porsche billed it as a "second-generation" Cayenne, but the 2008 Porsche Cayenne, Cayenne S and Cayenne Turbo really amount to a thorough makeover of the successful original concept. More power, new features, and fresh styling make the headline news.
All models take on a wider, "meaner" look via larger front air intakes and revised headlamps, answering critics who thought the original Cayenne's nose too bulbous.
As before, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo has larger intakes than the base or S models. Also redesigned, if less noticeable, are the door mirrors, exhaust tips, the Turbo's standard rear roof spoiler and, of course, the wheels.
The undercarriage is also revised to improve high-speed aerodynamics, not a priority with most SUVs. As a result, all Cayennes now have a brilliant-for-a-big-box 0.35 drag coefficient, down from 0.39. Exterior dimensions are little changed. So is weight, sad to say.
At least there's more muscle to move it, thanks to larger engines with higher compression and direct fuel injection (fuel squirts right into the cylinders rather than up high at the ports). V-8s also adopt Porsche's more-sophisticated VarioCam Plus valve-and-camshaft timing system.
The base 3.2-liter V-6 engine gives way to a 3.6-liter V-6, again a "VR6" sourced from Volkswagen, with bore and stroke of 3.50 x 3.80 inches (89 x 96.4 mm). In U.S. tune, the V-6 churns out 290 horsepower at 6200 rpm and 273 pound-feet of torque at 3000 revs.
The 2008 Porsche Cayenne Turbo (left) paces the 2008 Cayenne Base model.
The Cayenne Turbo's twin-turbo version of the 4.8-liter V-8 uses a 10.5:1 squeeze to make 500 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 516 pound-feet at 2250-4000 rpm, figures that help to explain why no Turbo S model is offered for 2008.
Suspension and brake hardware carry over with minor tweaks, but there are two new electronic wrinkles.
First, all models now include the antiskid Porsche Stability Management system, which adds programming designed to enhance stopping stability when towing. In addition, the system will now "pre-load" the brakes on sudden throttle lift-off, moving the pads closer to the rotors in anticipation of an imminent full-anchors stop. Another added program remaps the antilock brakes for better control in low-speed off-road situations.
The second new chassis gizmo is optional Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control. Like similar systems at BMW and Mercedes-Benz, PDCC is designed to counter body lean in hard cornering, here with hydraulic swivel motors that twist against the antiroll bars when signaled by various body and suspension sensors.
Speaking of which, the 2008 Cayennes add a rollover sensor that triggers the curtain and front-side airbags if it senses an impending tip. Other changes include a standard power liftgate (an option since 2004) and a dashboard "Sport" button that alters engine, transmission, and suspension electronics to suit high-performance driving. Among new options are 21-inch wheels, satellite radio, and a rail-type cargo-management system.
Porsche says the 2008s are not only quicker than previous Cayennes, but cleaner-running and thriftier with gas -- timely developments, what with global warming and energy dependence so much in the news.
Factory figures show highway mpg for V-8 models up by 11-15 percent, while the base Cayenne rates 3 mpg higher in city driving in U.S. EPA testing. The base and Turbo now rate LEV status (Low-Emissions Vehicle), while the Cayenne S meets the tougher ULEV (Ultra-Low) standard.
As for the ever-pertinent 0-60 mph acceleration, Porsche quotes 7.5 seconds for the Cayenne, 6.4 for Cayenne S and 4.9 for Cayenne Turbo. Road tests may well beat those numbers, as so often happens with Porsches. But it's still early days for the 2008 Cayennes, and definitive reviews have yet to appear in force, so stay tuned.
There's also good news on the pricing front, where base stickers rise by only a few thousand dollars, not bad for the Cayenne's market class. The V-6 Cayenne now starts at $43,400, the V-8 S at $57,900, and the Turbo at $93,700.
The Cayenne will doubtless keep improving, just as Porsches have from the beginning. And in that sense, it's no less a "real Porsche" than any Porsche Boxster, Porsche Cayman, or Porsche 911. It may not be perfect - no vehicle is -- but the Cayenne clearly embodies the pride and passion that have been Porsche hallmarks for nearly 60 years. And no other SUV can say that.
The 2008 Porsche Cayenne continues Porsche's commitment to SUV performance.
For prices, reviews, and more on Porsche from the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, see:
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- Porsche Cayenne
- 2007 Porsche Cayenne
- 2006 Porsche Cayenne