For drivers across the Middle East, there are two types of cars that are most desired. For day to day use, racing down long stretches of secluded highway, cruising along the waterside and parking outside a five-star resort, there is the sports car. For weekends, there is the SUV, built to withstand the demands of the mountains and the desert, to go further than the modern luxuries that the cities and suburbs provide, to explore the further potential for adventure in our picturesque backyard. The Porsche Cayenne 2018 marries the two better than possibly any car has before.
When the Cayenne first debuted in 2002, many were sceptical. Why? The automotive world usually likes when companies excel at one thing to stick to it, and while Porsche has made some of the world’s finest sports cars since the Porsche 550 was winning races back in the mid-1950s, it wasn’t until 2002 that they ventured into the crowded sport utility vehicle space. Why not stick to what they do best? The answer they provided was clear—they can still do what we do best in an SUV, and can, in fact, bring what makes their sports cars so superlative to a much more rugged terrain.
With the 2018 Cayenne, Porsche does not have to aim to fix something broken—far from it. The last two iterations of the Porsche Cayenne, launched in 2002 and 2010, reliably outsold every other model of Porsche, including the 911, Cayman, Boxter and Macan, from the years 2003 to 2015. In fact, 2016 was the first year that another Porsche model outsold the Cayenne, with the Macan overtaking the Cayenne in sales for the first time, selling over 4,000 more. The Macan is, of course, itself a development of the Cayenne, in many ways.
At first glance, you wouldn’t guess the 2018 Porsche Cayenne was rebuilt from the ground up. Look closer, and it’s clear that the design changes are indeed bold, streamlining the car, increasing its length, lowering its height, a refined design that make it the most beautiful Cayenne yet. The bonnet is more pronounced, with a different headlight contour, both still unmistakably Porsche. The side windows are narrower, the rear wing has been redesign, and the rear end is wider with wider alloy wheels, giving it a feel closer to a 911 than the previous models were able to achieve.
Inside, the changes have made the cabin more spacious, with a larger luggage compartment, built for a car that many Gulf drivers will be taking for long weekends of camping off in the desert or elsewhere. The Porsche Advanced Cockpit, as they call it, has made the controls much more intuitive than in older models, making the driving experience much more seamless. The centre console’s new touch display is 12.3 inches, including Porsche Communication Management (PCM), which allows drivers to configure six different individual profiles that store interior settings, light specifications, driving programmes and assistance systems, making it easier to share among family members.
The Porsche Cayenne is built to look great, but it is built more to perform. To test this, WEALTH Arabia took the latest model across two Gulf countries, starting in the UAE emirate of Fujairah and ending in Oman.
When our drive began, with the Hajar mountains surrounding us on either side, we were able to see how the Cayenne drives on well-developed roads. We’ve driven many Porsches before, and each one has given one of the best on-road experiences we’ve had, with a smooth, responsive drive equal to any. For day to day use, the Cayenne 2018 could easily become the keys you reach for most frequently in your collection, as it provides all that Middle Eastern drivers are looking for in developed areas.
How would it perform in the off-road? That is what we went to find out. We chose the off-road trails of Wadi Bih, a hilly valley with the gorgeous Hajar Mountains that rise on either side. Trying all models of the new Cayenne line, including the S and the Turbo, the car took whatever we threw at it, uphill or downhill, rocks or sand, more than capably, delivering the best off-road experience we’ve had.
Part of that was due to the 2018 Cayenne’s pre-programmed drive and chassis modes, which can be activated through the aforementioned PCM. With each, drivers can change from the default onroad programmee to settings specifically designed for mud, gravel, sand and rocks. This optimally conditions the engine and chassis systems, including the new Tiptronic S, the Porsche Traction Management all-wheel drive system and PSM stabilisation programme, built to give the smoothest drive possible. In addition, depending on how the car has been fitted, air suspension, a PASM damper system and PDCC rolling-motion compensation and rear axle steering.
Even without these settings, the 2018 Cayenne is built to handle these conditions better than before. The chassis is more lightweight, designed to give balance between Porsche’s sports car performance and comfort, weighing 65 kilogrammes less. All chassis systems, except for the active PASM damper system, are new, including an adaptive three-chamber air suspension, and electric roll stabilisation, as well as 4D chassis control that dynamically connects all these systems.
These systems made the drive both smooth and fascinating to watch go to work, as the Cayenne automatically adjusted during steep descents, making the drive both smoother and safer, giving one peace of mind while off road. The car’s engine is also more responsive, sporting an eight-speed Tiptronic S gearbox, which aids performance in lower gears. The Cayenne S is powered by a 2.9-litre, biturbo-charged V6 engine with 440 horsepower, an increase of 20 from the 2010 model. It reaches 100 km/h in 5.2 seconds (4.9 seconds with the optional Sport Chrono Package) and boasts a top speed of 265 km/h. The Turbo’s eight-cylinder engine has 550 horsepower, an increase of 30 from the last Turbo.
Back in Fujairah, we took the car through Wadi Wurayah, and through all conditions, it performed at top levels. The 2018 Porsche Cayenne is the perhaps best balance drivers in the region can find between a city driving and for off-road adventures, each with comfort and high-level performance. Prices start from AED 300,000 in the UAE, but may vary across the region. When you get yours—take it further than you may have tried. Trust us, it will be an experience you won’t forget.