Porsche unveiled the second generation Cayenne SUV a couple of months ago in February and recently the Zuffenhausen company which currently resides under the Volkswagen umbrella held a Porsche World Roadshow event down south in Singapore. Among various sessions held through out the event, there was a quick test drive of the latest Cayenne which also includes a hybrid variant in it’s line-up as well.

Joining the hybrid is the diesel and the gasoline versions that we are used to as well. I was invited to the event and I managed to get behind the wheels of both the Cayenne Turbo and the Cayenne Diesel. I was also given a short ride in the Cayenne Hybrid.

Look after the jump for my full driving experience.

When Porsche first introduced the Cayenne in 2002, everyone were scratching their heads wondering if a company like Porsche, which has been making compact sports cars since it’s inception can successfully market and sell SUVs.

Sales figures after the first few years proved that Porsche can actually do it. Design wise the Cayenne did of course draw it’s looks from the rest of the Porsche line-up and in my honest opinion it could have looked better.

However I had a broad smile on my face when they rolled out the facelift version. It was much more refined and looked aggressive and classy at the same time.

When the company unveiled the second generation Cayenne, I still felt that it looks good, with it’s menacing front fascia.

Unfortunately I couldn’t say the same about the rear. The taillights on the new Cayenne look as though they were inspired by the Panamera and they don’t blend into the rear properly. It looks a little mis-proportioned if you ask me.

The negativity of the design ends there fortunately, as the interior is one nice and comfortable place to be in. Design wise its miles apart when compared to the interior of the first generation Cayenne.

When thinking about the interior of the older Cayenne, words such as ‘dull’, ‘boring’ and ‘dated’ come to mind. The interior of the new Cayenne is heavily inspired by the Panamera, which is a good thing in this case. The cabin is definitely roomy with more than enough head as well as leg room.

Driving the Porsche Cayenne Turbo.

The immense size of the Cayenne may fool you into thinking that it drives like a boat with very noticeably body roll. But you will be proven wrong after spending a few seconds behind the wheel. The Turbo is motivated by a 4.8 litre V8 fitted with twin turbochargers and it makes 500hp and 699Nm of torque.

Power delivery is good and very smooth but somehow I felt like I should have experienced more power. I felt like it offered 500Nm instead of 699Nm, but this could well be due to the 1,995-2,245 kilograms weight figure of the vehicle. Nevertheless the engine offers good response and power surged in almost instantaneously.

The engine, just like the rest of the available options for the Cayenne range is paired with an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. Gear changes were silky smooth, whether its shifting up or down. At cruising speeds of about 90km/h (that was the fastest we were able to do in Singapore) the engine and gearbox were working almost effortlessly and the Cayenne felt very composed on the highway.

The Cayenne also featured adaptive damping with three modes to choose from, ranging between comfort, normal and sport. Different modes offer different damping levels and on paper comfort mode should give you a more supple ride, with excellent bump absorption. Sport should give a sportier ride as everything should feel more rigid and every single irregularity should be noticed.

Normal in essence should be a balance between the two. The thing is, in reality all three modes offered a rather stiff ride quality. Its even the case with smoother Singaporean roads. Bumps and imperfections on the road didn’t really go unnoticed in comfort mode and things got stiffer in normal mode. The only mode that offered what it promised was Sport. I felt more connected to the tarmac.

Handling was pretty good for an SUV of it’s size and weight too. Weight transfer or body roll was noticeable only when I pushed it harder. Sport mode helped reduce roll and the car felt very planted around corners.

We of course drove around with the electronic stability program turned on hence we never felt a single amount of oversteer and understeer was also not present, however just like any other vehicle, flooring the accelerator pedal mid-corner induces it, but it was very manageable.

Driving the Porsche Cayenne Diesel.

The diesel version of the Cayenne features a 240hp 3.0 litre turbocharged V6 which makes 550Nm of torque. I only spent moments behind the wheel but it was long enough for me to draw out that the engine feels torquey, just like most modern turbo diesel engines.

Another interesting thing I have noticed is that I couldn’t really hear the rattling diesel sound while driving. I felt like I was driving a gasoline model. However when you listen to the engine idling while standing outside of the vehicle, you can hear the typical diesel engine sound. There rest of the driving dynamics were similar to the Cayenne Turbo.

Taking a ride in the Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid.

I was also lucky enough to hitch a ride in the Cayenne S Hybrid. The hybrid has a 3.0 litre supercharged V6 which produces 333hp and the combustion engine is mated to a 47hp electric motor. Total horsepower is figured at 380hp while offering 580Nm of torque which you can enjoy when you floor the pedal.

To complement the hybrid drivetrain, the Cayenne S Hybrid also has an in-cabin monitoring system which displays what the drivetrain is actually doing. This is something like what the Toyota Prius has but more tastefully done with full colour and high-res display.

The vehicle will use either the combustion engine or the electric motor or even both depending on the situation. During the short drive the Cayenne did go into pure electric mode and everything went quiet. Porsche claims that it can run at speeds of up to 60km/h until power runs out but I was unable to test it out.

Power transfer between both the engine and the electric motor was very smooth and went unnoticed. The hybrid also featured Auto Start Stop and I hardly noticed each shut-down and restart.

Conclusion.

Overall the new Porsche Cayenne hit the right buttons if you ask me, except for the rear end design and the adaptive dampers which should have offered a softer ride in comfort and standard modes. However to give you a conclusive answer, I will have to wait for a longer test drive on our Malaysian roads. For now the new Cayenne seems to be an improvement over the model it replaces.

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