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Roadfly Magazine
Issue Eight
Table of Contents

Past Issues Index
Roadfly Magazine
Issue Eight
August 9, 2003
Cruising with Jay Leno
Hot Rod Power Tour
Paint Protection Film
Brake Pad Tech
Porsche Cayenne
Porter Cable Buffer
Coming Next Issue
Fernandez Racing
CPO Nightmares
Hot Lap: Strong Strut
Lotus Elise Preview

Porsche Cayenne: Hot Pepper
By Charlie Romero

(Wednesday, July 16, 2003 9:15 AM EST)

Porsche Cayenne S

Silver Porsche Cayenne S

Prominent Porsche advertisements tout the new Porsche Cayenne as "The next Porsche." With our record as long time Porsche enthusiasts we were more than anxious to get our hands on the new Cayenne - we wanted to put some miles under its tires, live the spirit that is Porsche and spend some quality time with the freshly engineered sport ute.

Until just a few days ago, the Roadfly staff hadn't had a chance to drive the Cayenne, and since we don't like to take advantage of our friends at the local Porsche dealership for press loaners we were content to keep waiting on Porsche to deliver a test vehicle.

But as luck would have it, the timing was right for us to finally take one for a brief test drive. A close company friend happened to buy one, and knowing that our publisher is in the market for a new SUV, he graciously shared his new Porsche Cayenne S with us for a few days. We had the opportunity to test it for the Magazine, albeit for only a brief period of time - any seat-time is better than no seat-time.

Our test beast was the "milder Pepper," as it featured the less spicy 340-horsepower version of the Porsche 4.5L V8 power plant. It rode on 18" wheels and was nicely optioned with items like a CD changer, sunroof, keyless entry, heated seats and a few extra goodies that sent the sticker price just north of $70,000. For comparison, you could take your pick of a nicely optioned Mercedes-Benz ML55 AMG, a Lexus LX470, a BMW X5 4.6is, an Infiniti FX45, or even a lightly optioned Land Rover Range Rover.

Driving the Cayenne is definitely an experience - everyone should take a test drive, just to experience firsthand how perverse it feels to push around nearly 3 tons of sheet metal on a short-wheel-based, unit-body platform. Make no mistakes - it rides really well, but you're constantly aware of the Cayenne's heft, especially when braking hard or trying to pitch it into a corner. Visions of the cartoonishly large, big-wheeled bikes from the early 1900s come to mind - the Cayenne gave the feeling of being a bit top heavy.

We know, we know. Just like everyone else who tries to justify the Cayenne's existence, you're saying "It's not a sports car just because it wears a Porsche crest." We realize Porsche is trying to sell extreme off-road capabilities with the Cayenne and not extreme track capabilities, but nevertheless it just feels too darn heavy. It's also hard to dismiss the perception of "sporty" when you're staring at the Porsche crest on the steering wheel.

Power from the mild-sauce version of the hot Pepper is "sufficient," but we have a feeling that were we to have driven the vehicle for more than a few days we'd have been itching for more power. The engine feels strong, but that little voice in the back of our heads kept saying, "more power, more power."

Perhaps the most shocking result of our test drive was that the 5,600 pounds of metal appeared to overwhelm the struts. When we tossed the Cayenne into a tight, slalom-like, stretch of road, the right front wheel hit a ripple in the pavement. Upon rebound, it began to bounce as though we had over heated the front strut. We're not exactly sure what happened, but scheduling prevented us from trying to recreate the event. Our gracious owner has since noted that he hasn't been able to reproduce the scenario while driving his Cayenne.

Slowing the Cayenne is relatively uneventful, but we'd be afraid of the brakes fading if asked to stop hard more than a few times in a row. We didn't have a chance to attach our performance test gear but the Cayenne S felt like it was lacking in stopping power as well. Was what we felt accurate? Brakes are a pretty important factor to both Porsche enthusiasts and soccer moms alike. A quick search through the Roadfly archives reveals that the Lexus LX470 appears to stop 10 feet quicker from 60 MPH. Regardless of the stats and figures, our mantra quickly became, "Don't try to stop and turn this puppy at the same time."

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