Stuttgart, Germany - As much as the purists threw up their hands in horror when it was first introduced in 2002, the Cayenne SUV has been a huge success for Porsche. More than 276 000 were sold between than and 2010, when the second generation took over, to the tune of 303 000 sold to date.
Now Zuffenhausen has given its heavy-duty beetlecrusher a general make-over, released today in Europe and due in South Africa in time for Christmas in a five-model line-up: Cayenne S, Cayenne Diesel, Cayenne S Diesel, Cayenne Turbo and the Cayenne S E-Hybrid, which Porsche says is the first plug-in hybrid in the premium SUV segment - and together with the Panamera S E-Hybrid and the 918 Spyder sports-car, makes it the only manufacturer to offer three plug-in hybrids.
Porsche's whitecoats are also very proud of the all-new 3.6-litre biturbo petrol V6 in the Cayenne S, designed entirely in-house and owing nothing to sister companies Audi and VW.
It's rated for 309kW at 6000 revs - 15kW better than the baseline V8 it replaces - and 550Nm (+50Nm) from 1350-4500rpm. With its standard eight-speed Tiptronic S transmission, the Cayenne S accelerates from 0-100 in 5.5 seconds (5.4 with the optional Sport Chrono package, which is 0.4sec better than the V8 could do) and hits 257km/h all out, also marginally up from before, while warming the globe at a rate of less than 10 litres per 100km and 229g/km of CO2.
They've taken thermal management a step forward as well, with active cooling air flaps - a first for the Cayenne - behind the middle air inlet. Controlled by the engine management system, they open or close according to the specific driving situation and cooling needs and when they're closed, they contribute significantly to reducing aerodynamic drag and thus fuel consumption.
The Cayenne S E-Hybrid is also a big improvement on the previous S Hybrid, with a 10.9kWh lithium-ion battery enabling an all-electric driving range of 18-36km, depending on the route and how you drive.
The power of the electric motor has more than doubled from 34kW to 70kW, which combines with the 245kW supercharged three-litre V6 to deliver a total of 306kW at 5500 revs and 590Nm from 1250-4000rpm.
Performance is (forgive the pun) electrifying: 123km/h on battery power alone, 0-100 in less than six seconds and 242km/h flat out on both, at a quoted cost of 3.42 litres per 100km in the combined cycle.
The battery can be charged either while driving or by Eskom - in which case you can monitor its progress on your smartphone using the standard Porsche Car Connect feature.
PROVEN POWER, BUT MORE OF IT
The Cayenne Turbo's proven 4.8-litre twin-turbo petrol V8 has been tweaked to produce 382kW at 6000 revs and 750Nm from 2250-4000rpm, taking the new Cayenne from 0-100 in 4.4 second (with the optional Sport Chrono package) and on to 277km/h while burning 11.6 litres per 100km and belching 267g/km of CO2.
The Cayenne Diesel's three-litre V6 is good for 193kW at 4000 revs and 580Nm from 1750-2500rpm, 0-100km/h in 7.3 seconds and 219km/h flat out, and 6.85 litres per 100km and 179g/km of CO2.
The 4.2-litre V8 engine in the Cayenne S Diesel raises those numbers to 283kW at 3750 revs and an awe-inspiring 850Nm from 2000 to 2750rpm, 0-100 in 5.4 seconds and 250km/h, at a quoted cost of just more than eight litres per 100km and 209g/km of CO2.
The front treatment gets more definition with a new bonnet and front wheel arches; distinctive new airblades on the right and left of the front end are designed to guide air to the intercoolers, and also make a strong visual statement.
Cayenne and S models light the way with bi-xenon headlights and four-point LED daytime running lights, while the Turbo boasts adaptive LED headlights as standard.
Inside, there's a new multi-function sports steering wheel with gear shift paddles as standard, based on the steering wheel of the 918 Spyder.
The rear seats have been made more comfortable, and rear-seat ventilation can now be ordered as an option.
Standard kit includes parking sensors at both ends, a Sport button, idle-stop with coasting function and a powered tailgate. The Turbo adds to that adaptive headlights, 19” alloys, active suspension with self-levelling air suspension, satellite navigation and Bose Surround Sound audio.
The new Cayenne models can be ordered now for delivery in November. Basic retail prices include a three-year Drive Plan.
Cayenne S – R986 000
Cayenne Diesel – R921 000
Cayenne S Diesel – R1 151 000
Cayenne Turbo – R1 760 000
Cayenne S E-Hybrid – TBA