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Full Throttle

The next generation of Porsches

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It may have got its name from a particularly spicy variety of pepper, but when it was launched, the Porsche Cayenne drew a cry of outrage from hardcore Porsche fanatics. Sportscars and SUVs are at two different ends of the driving enthusiast's spectrum because of the extremities of size, weight and nimbleness. Not the Cayenne though - it was butch, huge and defied the laws of physics to go quick in a straight line, yet hang on tight through the corners, just like a sportscar. This, more than anything else, has made it hold its head high, not just in the sports carmaker's line up, but also as one of the most capable SUVs in the world. Over 270, 000 Cayennes sold to date are a testimony to the name this roller has made for itself, and proof of its success are the 10,000 orders that already rest in Porsche's books for the recently launched second-generation of the SUV.

So what's with the second generation Cayenne? Largely evolutionary changes have made a good product even better. And everything starts with its new look, which sits on the vehicle very comfortably, so much so that its proportions make it look smaller visually than its predecessor. For a vehicle that has grown in length by 48 mm, this is praiseworthy, but the new nose, the detail around the bonnet and the new lights make the second generation Cayenne come out prettier and less aggressive than the original. Factor in the new glass-house treatment and the Cayenne makes a positive impact on the mind.

The interiors have grown even more luxurious and plush. A high centre console between the driver and co-driver's seat helps create a cocoon that even the most unenthusiastic drivers will find difficult to get out of. With aluminium panels surrounding the aircon vents and a TFT screen for the driver with which to fiddle with  its controls, its features are in line with other modern
gadget-laden luxury SUVs.

The toning treatment is also in line with the engineering approach that the boffins at Porsche AG took for the new Cayenne, which involved severe weight loss. They have done well, given that their flagship V8-powered Cayenne Turbo has lost a good 185 kg between generations. The weight reduction treatment hasn't stopped just at the visuals, considering the fact that the new engine itself is much lighter than its predecessor.

The premium variant, the Cayenne Turbo, makes for a quicker revving engine with a colossal 500 PS of power harnessed with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and then to all four wheels through a permanent all-wheel drive system. The new engine is lightweight, a fact that is obvious as soon as you step on the gas pedal, because of the all-new weight optimised crankshaft.

Porsche's aim behind making the entire new car and the engine lighter was two-fold, not just to improve performance, but also to take the SUV's range further by offering better fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. Fuel consumption figures released by the company are very encouraging since the new Cayenne manages to cut down petrol consumption by a good 23 per cent. In fact, the entire lineup of the refreshed model, apart from the entry level variant, has been fitted with automatic start/stop systems to boost this aspect even further.

Porsches are known for their exemplary road holding and composure, and the last generation Cayenne typified this by almost redefining the way a big sport utility vehicle should feel. With the standard fit traction management system and four-wheel footing, the Turbo obviously showed excellent road hugging. However, what really sets the new Cayenne apart when it comes to large SUVs of its size is the exceptional body control that the German giant displays. Adjustable suspension allows the car to switch between being a comfortable ride for corporate head honchos, and a beast that takes all the corners and changes direction as if it weighs as much as a sportscar.

Multiple offroad modes allow for different levels of push from the four wheels that are controlled by smart electronics. These systems also ensure that the Cayenne remains a truly capable offroader, even if its primary intent will be to carry the affluent around in big wheeled luxury.

The new Cayenne range also comes with V6 petrol and diesel options, which will begin to go under the hammer from Rs 65. 82 lakh ex-showroom. The Cayenne S-Hybrid has been added to the lineup keeping in mind Porsche's newfound focus
on having sporty intentions and eco-consciousness exist in one package. We saw this in the 918 Spyder concept, the car that stole the Cayenne's thunder back in Geneva, when the two cars were displayed in the same pavilion. On the sales front, however, I won't be the least surprised if the new Cayenne finds more widespread, accessible and consistent favour from enthusiasts around the world.

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