- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2003

When you think of Porsche what comes to mind is super-fast, sophisticated and sexy sports cars.
These are cars that most young men and a few women dream of owning.
They are and have been for more than 50 years one of the most coveted vehicles on the planet. You certainly do not think of them as sport utility vehicles.
At least not until today.
The reason? Plain and simple was to remain in business, to survive the changing automotive climate in North America, "survival" plain and simple.
Porsche is firmly committed to staying in business for many more decades. With the guidance of President and Chief Executive Officer Fred Schwab, Porsche Cars North America is committed to keeping Porsche a viable company on this side of the pond.
Mr. Schwab' incredible enthusiasm about the automobile industry has given us the Boxster and new 911, which are responsible for reviving the love of sports cars. And this didn't affect just Porsche alone; sports cars from many different companies became popular.
Mr. Schwab is retiring this spring but his enthusiasm and spirit are sure to remain. Plus we have some wonderful automobiles to experience, in part because of him. When he leaves the company, Mr. Schwab will be missed but he will leave Porsche in an enviable position, a profitable car company.
While the Cayenne is Porsche's first serious try at the SUV market, it is has proved to be an expert exercise. You would think it had been building SUVs for years. Porsche certainly has put SPORT back in sport utility vehicle.
Powered by two versions of an all-aluminum V-8 engine, the Cayenne will certainly get your heart pumping with its performance.
The normally aspirated engine, which comes as standard equipment in the Cayenne S, produces 340 horsepower and 310 foot-pounds of torque. The Cayenne Turbo comes with two turbochargers and produces a wonderfully smooth 450 horsepower and 457 foot-pounds of torque. The Cayenne is a 911 in SUV clothing.
According to Porsche, the S model will probably satisfy 75 percent of buyers' desires. The S is so well equipped I can see why it will be so popular. But, the additional thrust from the two turbo chargers is fantastic.
Even though this is an SUV, the styling is most definitely Porsche even though it has the additional storage area. The interior is very Porsche. The seats are supportive with excellent bolstering, yet they are not overly restrictive.
The dash is as close to a 911 as it can get and still provide the features needed for an SUV. The instrument panel is designed after the traditional five-gauge set found in other Porsches.
I did, however, feel that one important feature had been changed that should have carried over. The tachometer has nearly always been in the center and should be here.
After all, the ignition key is in the correct spot on the left of the steering column. Right where you expect a Porsche key to be.
I took the new Cayenne to task by testing it quite aggressively on both racetrack and off-road conditions.
With a good rain falling, this was the perfect setting to put the Cayenne through a demanding few hours of testing.
Down the front straight at well over 130 mph, into tight hairpin turns at well over what would have been perceived as sane speeds and through high-speed corners that made the fainthearted queasy, the Cayenne performed far better than expected.
I also ventured into the backwoods surrounding the track for some light off-roading. Well I thought it would be light. This S model was equipped with tires suited for dirt and mud so I climbed rocks, slid through creeks and slogged up and down trails where some other SUVs would have ended up stuck in the muck or worse. The Cayenne preformed like no other Porsche.
This was one surprising vehicle.
Although purists will snivel and whine, sports-car folks may stick their noses in the air and hard-core off-roaders scoff, the Cayenne brings Porsche excellence to a whole new level and an entirely new category.

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