The Porsche of SUVs, Take Three

Introduced at a huge event on its home turf in Stuttgart, the third-generation Porsche Cayenne is here, and it may be the brand‘s most important launch in a long time. Porsche‘s king of suburbia is the quintessential sport-utility vehicle with a capital Sport, and the model that can be credited with fortifying the company‘s bottom line enough to enable it to continue building the sports cars we really crave.

Porsche, predictably, says the Cayenne is closer to the 911 than ever, and cites the optional all-wheel-steering system and the staggered-sized tires, which are wider at the rear. But the fact is the Cayenne is spun from the Audi-engineered MLB modular-longitudinal architecture, and that‘s not a bad thing: This component set is far lighter and more advanced than the previous Cayenne‘s PL71 platform. Porsche says the new model is 143 pounds lighter, despite its added content, greater safety, and additional passenger space.

Power comes from several new engines developed in cooperation with Audi. The base Cayenne comes with a single-turbo, 340-hp 3.0-liter V-6 (zero to 60 mph in a claimed 5.8 seconds, top speed of 152 mph), while the Cayenne S is powered by a twin-turbo, 2.9-liter V-6 with 440 horsepower (4.9 seconds, 165 mph). Those are the only two variants Porsche is talking about right now, but well before the new Cayenne hits U.S. turf, Porsche will have unveiled the Cayenne Turbo with a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 rated at 550 horsepower. Every third-gen Cayenne is fitted with an eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission.

Down the road—and sooner rather than later—there will be a V-6 plug-in hybrid based on the 2.9-liter V-6, as well as a V-8 plug-in hybrid which will be called the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid. The latter powertrain is already available in the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, where it makes 680 total system horsepower.

Porsche also has developed two diesel models, a 3.0-liter V-6 and a 4.0-liter V-8. They are virtually ready for…

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