- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 15, 2007

It is a reality in the sport utility marketplace; not many owners take their vehicles off-road. Oh sure, they head up to the snowy mountains to ski or perhaps hit the forest trails to find a fishing spot.

But, rarely do SUV owners venture into the really rough terrain.

That is exactly the reason for the Porsche Cayenne and its truly phenomenal road presence. However, do not underestimate this vehicle’s off-road capabilities. Even with road-friendly tires this Porsche can climb some pretty rugged back country.

For the new model Porsche, designers have given the Cayenne a more aggressive front end by resculpting the hood, reshaping the headlights and enlarging the already massive air ducts.

This isn’t just a move to make the vehicle look more aggressive. The changes are in part necessary to provide adequate platform for the increased horsepower each of the available engines receive.

The base V-6 engine receives an increase of 43 horsepower over the previous version, to 290 horsepower. The most popular model is the Cayenne S, which is powered by a V-8 engine that produces 385 horsepower. And if that isn’t enough for you, the Cayenne Turbo will give you eye-watering acceleration from the 500 horses sitting under the hood. This dual turbocharged Porsche still achieves 19 miles per gallon of gasoline on the highway under the new testing standards.

The true joy of driving any of the Cayenne models, particularly the Turbo, is when you can release the beast within a controlled environment, not having to worry about others on the road. That is precisely what I did when Porsche offered three of their new Cayennes.

Five separate tests on a variety of conditions allowed me to experience the incredible handling and performance wrapped up in the new Cayenne. A high-speed run down a simulated forest road with tight turns and lots of loose gravel showed how well Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) maintains vehicle control.

Trying to slide around a corner the PDCC reads through sensors placed about the vehicle and allows me to retain control of the vehicle. Even though I really enjoy getting the rear end of a car to kick out to do “Dukes of Hazzard”-style sliding, PDCC won’t allow me my simple pleasures.

On a water-soaked and twisting road course, the PDCC and the incredible handling prowess of the Cayenne came to light with bright intensity. Imagine a downpour that floods the roadway and you suddenly drive into these adverse conditions. Driving a traditional vehicle you might white-knuckle the steering wheel and hope that you emerge from the flow unscathed. Driving the Cayenne you would have a whole lot more going for you as the PDCC helps you retain control of your vehicle just as it did for me during the hour or so of driving this watered course.

On the eight-mile, high-speed oval track I was able to achieve the highest top speed rating of the Cayenne without worrying about slower vehicles. At 159 mph, the Cayenne was quite stable without the unnerving characteristic common at these speeds.I have driven vehicles of this category that move left to right some 4 to 6 feet trying to achieve this speed. The reason why I could never achieve the mark? I was far too afraid to venture into the unknown area.

Porsche reports that as many as 60 percent of Porsche sports car owners own an SUV. Porsche’s goal to produce a vehicle that gives owners the thrill of an excellent driving vehicle as well as the capabilities of an SUV has been achieved. The Cayenne in its various forms is worthy of the Porsche badge.

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