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Updated: June 1, 2010 21:32 IST

The posh machine

HORMAZD SORABJEE
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Longer, sleeker and with dramatic interiors, here comes the new pricey Porsche Cayenne.

The Cayenne is a huge success for Porsche and this model has singularly cracked open new markets for the company and widened the marque's global footprint.

So, it comes as no surprise that Porsche has thrown everything behind the Cayenne and the new model is better in every area. The biggest flaw with the original Cayenne was its styling, which Porsche admits was too aggressive for most tastes. This has been successfully addressed by Porsche with a design that is cleaner and sportier. The twin projector lights with accentuated silver-coloured rings and the V-shaped bonnet have traces of the Panamera. The massive air intakes, a Cayenne trademark, are less aggressive than before and give the Porsche SUV a tidier look.

Longer and sleeker than before, the Cayenne along with its heavily raked windscreen is now much better proportioned, especially when viewed from the side. The rear end looks great as well. The broad shoulders and light clusters that swoop outwards give it a sense of purpose that was missing in the previous model.

The new Cayenne weighs an incredible 185kg less than its predecessor. Apart from using lots more aluminium than before, the main kilo-shedding trick was swapping the old six-speed box with its 4x4 transfer case for an all-new 8-speeder that alone accounted for a 60kg-plus saving.

The interiors are equally impressive and again a dramatic improvement over the previous car. Slide into the high driver's seat and you are greeted by a cluster of five dials with the tachometer taking centre stage, in true Porsche tradition.

But it's the overall quality which is amazing and a massive step up from the relatively drab interiors of the previous Cayenne. Again, there's loads of Panamera influence in here, like with the central console that has an array of high-quality switches. The heavily contoured front seats adjust in every possible direction to hug your body. But the best news is that the rear seats that were too upright and flat in the older Cayenne, are now incredibly comfy.

A 40mm increase in wheelbase has freed up more legroom at the back. And if that's not enough, the rear seat now slides and can be reclined.

Another neat touch is the way the rear seats flip forward in one easy step. If that's lot of hard work , there's an option to fold them down electrically.

The boot is now bigger 670 litres. The 100-litre fuel tank is very practical as it allows you to drive long distances on a diet of difficult-to-find 97 octane fuel.

When the new Cayenne goes on sale in India this July, all five versions — a 300bhp V6 petrol, a 240bhp V6 diesel, a 400bhp V8 petrol, the 380bhp Hybrid and the range-topping and monstrous 500bhp Turbo — will be available.

The Cayenne Turbo with its 4.8-litre twin-turbo V8 is the highlight of the range. This monstrous engine coupled with the brilliant eight-speed gearbox delivers performance that would embarrass many supercars. Zero to 100kph comes up in 4.7 seconds and, given the road, the Turbo will thunder to 275kph.

The gearbox is velvet-smooth and provides faster and more seamless shifts than the previous six-speed auto. Leave the Turbo in sport mode and the gearbox does all the work for you with well-timed up and downshifts. With so many ratios and huge reserves of power in each gear, you lose track of what gear you are in. Floor the throttle and there's one strong and relentless linear shove to speeds you cannot imagine an SUV is capable of.

If there can be anything more impressive than the straight-line performance, it's the handling which is go-kart-like. The Cayenne dives into corners in a way that completely defies the car's two-tonne weight and 1694mm height. Grip from the 275/45 R20 tyres is massive and there is hardly any body roll, which lets you dig deeper and deeper into the car's reserves with utter confidence. Porsche's Torque Vectoring system plays a big role in the phenomenal handling and body control of the Cayenne.

The new Cayenne is undoubtedly a massive step forward but sadly it comes at a price.

It's significantly more expensive than the outgoing model and in India, the base V6 without all the options starts at an estimated Rs. 65 lakh rising to Rs. 1.27 crore for the Turbo.

But for driving enthusiasts, it is money well-spent.

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