AM was able to test the German manuacturer’s claims that it can compete with Land Rover’s finest on Millbrook’s ‘black run’ off-road course in a 340bhp Cayenne S.
First the technical stuff. The S is packed with computer and technological wizardry that promises to protect the occupants (and the vehicle) on a range of challenging terrains. The four-wheel drive Porsche Traction Control sends 62% of power from the 4.5-litre V8 petrol engine to the rear wheels and 38% to the front in standard mode, but can be adjusted to feed 100% to either when conditions require.
Computer-controlled front-to-rear locking differential and optional rear axle differential lock not only recognise lack of traction, but incorporate sensors measuring speed, lateral acceleration, steering angle and operation of the throttle pedal.
And the 2.1:1 low ratio gearbox takes care of the steep gradients and more extreme manoeuvres. All functions are controlled by one central switch. It works. Ground clearance of up to 217mm negotiates rocks and crevasses with ease and the Cayenne simply sticks to muddy banks and precipitous gradients. Stop on a steep incline, feet off the pedals, and the car holds you; power on, and it eases away.
Water obstacles up to half a metre deep are calmly navigated – the air ducts are tucked away above the headlights – while the Cayenne can handle angles of up to 29.1 degrees front, 25.7 degrees rear.
It might not quite go where no car has gone before, but it’s more than capable of meeting the majority of customers’ needs.
And according to Porsche, most owners top spec their cars with all the off-road gadgetry that isn’t already standard – these are people who really want to explore the vehicle’s mud-plugging potential, regardless of the 4.5-litre S’s starting price of £44,900 (standard 3.5 £35,560, Turbo 4.5 £70,870).
Strengths: Badge, off-road and on-road ability
Weaknesses: Looks still jar
Opportunity: Third product line for Porsche
Threats: Softening of Porsche brand values; take sales from 911?
USP: A go anywhere Porsche
Engine: 4.5-litre V8, 340bhp @ 6,000rpm, 310lb-ft @ 2,500-5,500rpm
Transmission: 6spd Tiptronic auto, four-wheel drive
Performance: 0-62mph 7.2s; top speed 150mph
Efficiency: 19mpg comb, 361g/km CO2
CAP RV (3yr/30k): £23,800 (53%)
Rivals: Range Rover Sport, Mercedes M-class