Porsche officially pulled the covers off its new third-generation Cayenne SUV on Tuesday night and although its design wasn’t a surprise, thanks to a picture leak over the weekend, there is plenty to talk about on the technological front.

Porsche says that the all-new Cayenne is closer to a sportscar in spirit than ever before. The snazzy SUV gains rear-axle steering for the first time, while wheel sizes move up an inch (now between 19 and 21 inches) and the rear end gets wider tyres than the front. It’s also 9mm lower and 65kg lighter than before, despite having gained 63mm in overall length, while the wheelbase remains unchanged at 2895mm. 

Only the standard Cayenne and Cayenne S will be available at launch, but rest assured that Porsche will add the usual performance derivatives to the range further down the line.

The good news is that even the ‘base’ models are somewhat beefier than before, with the standard Cayenne getting a new 3-litre single-turbo V6 that produces 250kW and 450Nm, 30kW and 50Nm more than before, and enough to rush it from 0-100km/h in 6.2 seconds (or 5.9s when fitted with the Sport Chrono package), says Porsche. 

The new Cayenne S ups the fun factor with Porsche’s 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6, which produces 324kW and 550Nm (up 15kW), sprints to 100 in 5.2 seconds (4.9 with Sport Chrono) and reaches a top speed of 265km/h.

Both models send their power to all four wheels through a new eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic gearbox and a fully-variable ‘active’ AWD system. Although the default mode is ‘on road’, as you’d expect, there are four off-road modes in place so that you can tell your friends that it’s capable off the beaten track too. These are: Mud, Gravel, Sand or Rocks, for the record.

The third-generation Cayenne sits on a redesigned chassis, managed by Porsche’s 4D Chassic Control System, and adaptive damping is standard on the Cayenne S. Buyers wanting an even cushier experience can opt for adaptive air suspension with new three-chamber technology.

The Cayenne will be offered with the latest-generation Sport Chrono Package, featuring newly-added individual and PSM Sport modes, and buyers can also specify Porsche Surface Coated brakes with tungsten-carbide coating.

The Cayenne’s aforementioned weight loss is largely attributed to a new lightweight structure that Porsche says is an intelligent combination of alloy and steel. The entire exterior, for instance, is made from aluminium, as is the floorpan assembly and almost all chassis components. 

Despite being so different beneath the skin, the new SUV takes a decidedly evolutionary approach to exterior styling, although the rear end is markedly different thanks to its Panamera-inspired joined taillights. It gets some cool new headlight options too. While LED headlights are standard, buyers can upgrade to matrix beam lights, featuring 84 individually activated light-emitting diodes that are capable of fully variable light distribution and intensity.

Inside the cabin, the Cayenne has undergone a similar digital revolution to its Panamera sibling, inheriting its 31.2cm high-definition touchscreen, which offers various online services. The instrument cluster is a mixture of traditional and digital, with a central analogue rev counter flanked by a pair of digital displays. 

The SA spec sheet and lineup should mirror what’s offered abroad when the newcomer hits our shores around June 2018. Prices will be announced closer to the time.

IOL Motoring