Review and photos by Haney Louka

2005 Porsche Cayenne S
2005 Porsche Cayenne S. Click image to enlarge

After all of the weeping and gnashing of teeth that have taken place since Porsche entered the sport-utility fray, the results speak for themselves: as I write this, Porsche has sold roughly 1,140 vehicles so far this year, 449 of which were sport-utility vehicles. Compare that with 730 cars sold in the first half of 2001, before the Cayenne came to market. And perhaps more importantly, almost half of the Cayennes sold so far this year have been of the V-6 version, sans ‘S’ or ‘Turbo’ suffix.

With the addition of the V-6 model to the lineup last year, the Cayenne’s starting price became about $20,000 more favourable, evidently making it more accessible to a whole new group of buyers.

The Cayenne’s starting price is now $58,500, and although de-contented relative to pricier models, the standard equipment list is still long: leather interior, power seats, trip computer, cruise control, 12-speaker CD stereo, and 17-inch alloy wheels, to name just of few of the goodies. Active and passive safety make a strong showing as well in the base model: stability and traction control, front and side airbags, and head curtain airbags are all standard.

2005 Porsche Cayenne
2005 Porsche Cayenne V6. Click image to enlarge

Our V-6 tester came equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission (a six-speed stick is standard), metallic paint, 18-inch alloys, memory for the driver’s seat, floor mats (yes, they’re optional), a moonroof, and heated front seats and steering wheel. The total price including destination and A/C tax came to $69,320.

2005 Porsche Cayenne
2005 Porsche Cayenne V6. Click image to enlarge

Under the hood of the Cayenne is a VW-derived 3.2-litre six-pot with an iron block, dual overhead cams, and four valves per cylinder. It has been massaged by Porsche’s engineers to produce 247 hp at 6,000 rpm and 229 lb-ft of torque between 2,500 rpm and 5,500 rpm. The same V-6 in the VW Touareg gets by with slightly less horsepower and a narrower torque peak. The Porsche unit also benefits from a specially designed exhaust system that lends it the aggressive note that Cayennes – and Porsches in general – are known for.

2005 Porsche Cayenne
2005 Porsche Cayenne V6. Click image to enlarge

Having driven both naturally-aspirated and turbocharged versions of the V-8-powered Cayenne, my week with the six-cylinder version contained few surprises. It was, as I expected, underpowered. Porsche claims a zero-to-96 km/h time of 9.1 seconds (8.5 with the stick), which isn’t too shabby considering that little engine is pushing around at least 2,200 kg of SUV. But let’s not forget that there’s a Porsche crest on the hood, and one should expect certain performance characteristics in any product from Zuffenhausen.

Thankfully, the rest of the Cayenne driving experience remains intact. Most impressive are the responsive and communicative steering combined with an uncanny ability to avoid body roll in the corners. Braking is fierce too: even though its 330-mm front rotors are 20 mm smaller than in the S and Turbo models, it does get six pistons in front and four in the rear like its more muscular brethren.

Annoyances in the Cayenne? Aside from the limited oomph from under the hood, the manual air conditioning system is frustrating to operate, and appears as though it has been reverse-engineered from the automatic climate control found in other models.

2005 Porsche Cayenne S
2005 Porsche Cayenne S. Click image to enlarge

Just two weeks after I drove the Cayenne, another one showed up at my doorstep, only this time the badge on the tailgate had an ‘S’ after its name – denoting the 4.5-litre V-8 under the hood which thumps out 340 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque.

Unlike the V-6 in the Cayenne, the eight-cylinder engine is not a VW derivative. It’s a 32-valve, 90-degree unit that actually shares some of its design with the flat-six found behind the Boxster’s seats. Enhancing low-end torque is a stainless steel exhaust system that has a crossover pipe downstream of the main catalysts.

2005 Porsche Cayenne S
2005 Porsche Cayenne S. Click image to enlarge

Price of entry for the Cayenne S is $78,800, and standard equipment in addition to that found in the Cayenne includes 18-inch wheels, automatic climate control, a Bose surround sound system with 14 speakers, and an automatic transmission. But of course, options exist to help Porsche buyers get exactly what they want, and our tester was a showcase of the possibilities. 18-inch Turbo wheels, metallic paint, memory driver’s seat, floor mats (that’s right), power moonroof, heated front seats, advanced offroad package (more later), bi-xenon headlights, navigation, adjustable air suspension, and other goodies brought the total to $102,050 as tested. For anybody keeping track, that’s still more than $20,000 cheaper than the Cayenne Turbo.

2005 Porsche Cayenne S
2005 Porsche Cayenne S. Click image to enlarge

Certainly more becoming of a Porsche automobile, the V-8-powered S makes the trip from a standstill to 96 km/h (60 mph) in a scant 6.8 seconds; truly a remarkable number for a vehicle of this girth. Translated into real world terms, the Cayenne S has plenty of thrust to handle any demand for power, and the six-speed Tiptronic S transmission is good at anticipating its driver’s next move.

2005 Porsche Cayenne S
2005 Porsche Cayenne S. Click image to enlarge

The Tiptronic is one of the most advanced automatic transmissions on the market. Once the shift lever is bumped to the left from the ‘D’ position, manual shifting is achieved by either bumping the lever up and down or by using the thumb toggles mounted on the steering wheel spokes. But – and here’s what I like best about the Tiptronic – there’s a momentary manual mode that can be accessed by using the wheel mounted toggles with the shift lever left in ‘D’.

2005 Porsche Cayenne S
2005 Porsche Cayenne S. Click image to enlarge

It remains in a temporary manual mode for at least eight seconds; longer if the Cayenne is travelling downhill or around a corner where it makes sense to hold a gear.

The only downside to this transmission’s behaviour is that unless the driver buries the gas pedal or shifts manually, second gear is the cog of choice when starting from a standstill, no doubt to assist in city fuel economy ratings.

Speaking of which, the Cayenne S consumes 17.1 L/100 km in the city and 11.7 on the highway, compared with 15.6 and 11.2 respectively for the V-6 model.

Even though these are the sports cars of SUVs, Porsche ensures that all Cayennes are capable of venturing off road should the need arise. At the heart of the all-wheel drive system is Porsche Traction Management (PTM) which, under normal circumstances, directs 62% of the engine’s power to the rear wheels, although it is capable of varying that number anywhere between zero and 100.

2005 Porsche Cayenne S
2005 Porsche Cayenne S. Click image to enlarge

All Cayennes benefit from a two-speed transfer case, which, when selected, triggers changes in the calibration of the ABS system to something more appropriate for off-road situations. Selecting the “off-pavement” mode on the console-mounted switch one more time activates a full differential lock to ensure that all wheels are getting power to the dirt.

2005 Porsche Cayenne S
2005 Porsche Cayenne S. Click image to enlarge

Our Cayenne S tester was also equipped with the Advanced Offroad Technology Package. For $5,850, hard-core off-roaders will be pleased with the ability to disconnect the front and rear anti-roll bars via a switch on the centre console, thus increasing the axle articulation by 60 mm to help negotiate over those nasty tree stumps. The package also includes a fully adjustable rear differential lock and additional protection for the Cayenne’s rocker panels and underbelly.

2005 Porsche Cayenne S
2005 Porsche Cayenne S. Click image to enlarge

Despite all of this capability, my Cayenne stayed on the road during its time with me. “You’re welcome to take it off road,” said Tony Morris of Media Car Services, “just don’t scratch it.”

Yeah, right.

The bottom line on Cayenne: purists may not like it, but Porsche has succeeded in producing an SUV that clearly translates its sports car DNA into an SUV. Not only that, but there’s real off-road capability thrown in for good measure. And even though the V-6 doesn’t do the Porsche crest justice, the rest of the package – and the fact that gawkers can’t tell it’s the slow one – more than makes up for it.


Technical Data: 2005 Porsche Cayenne and Cayenne S

  Cayenne Cayenne S
Base price $58,500 $78,800
Options $9,605 (six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, metallic paint, 18-inch alloys, memory driver’s seat, floor mats, moonroof, heated front seats and steering wheel) $22,035 (18-inch Turbo wheels, metallic paint, memory driver’s seat, floor mats, power moonroof, heated front seats, advanced offroad package, bi-xenon headlights, navigation, adjustable air suspension)
Freight $1,115 $1,115
A/C tax $100 $100
Price as tested $69,320 $102,050
Type
4-door, 5-passenger mid-size SUV
Layout
longitudinal front engine/all-wheel-drive
Engine 3.2 litre V6, DOHC, 24 valves 4.5 litre V8, DOHC X 2, 32 valves
Horsepower 247 @ 6000 rpm 340 @ 6000 rpm
Torque 229 lb-ft @ 2500-5500 rpm 310 lb-ft @ 2500-5500 rpm
Transmission 6-speed Tiptronic(6-speed manual std) 6-speed Tiptronic
Tires P235/65R-17 P255/55R-18
Curb weight 2170 kg (4785 lb.) min. 2245 kg (4950 lb.) min.
Towing capacity 3500 kg (7716 lb.) 3500 kg (7716 lb.)
Wheelbase
2855 mm (112.4 in.)
Length
4782 mm (188.2 in.)
Width
1928 mm (75.9 in.)
Min. ground clearance
217 mm (8.5 in.)
Cargo capacity
540 litres (19.1 cu. ft.) seats up
 
1770 litres (62.5 cu. ft.) seats down
Fuel consumption City: 15.6 L/100 km (18 mpg) Imperial City: 17.1 L/100 km (17 mpg) Imperial
  Hwy: 11.2 L/100 km (25 mpg) Imperial Hwy: 11.7 L/100 km (24 mpg) Imperial
Warranty
4 yrs/80,000 km

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