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  • 2009 Porsche Cayenne GTS Tiptronic

    Posted on July 25th, 2009 ninarussin

    Sport-utility vehicle with sports car performance

    By Nina Russin


    Ever since Porsche announced that it was introducing a sport-utility vehicle, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the Cayenne. My feelings have nothing to do with the Cayenne’s performance: Porsche doesn’t build anything that I don’t enjoy driving.

    But I can’t reconcile the Cayenne’s two box architecture with Porsche’s sports car heritage. To me, it muddies the waters.

    Having said that, the Cayenne is as much an expression of Porsche’s “it” factor as a SUV can be. It’s light on its feet, sinuous and fast. The Tiptronic transmission offers performance close to a manual gearbox, without the inconvenience of a clutch pedal.

    Exterior styling incorporates cues from Porsche’s sports cars such as the teardrop headlamps and broad wheel arches.  Dual exhausts with oval chrome tips remind those in back that the Cayenne is all business. The Cayenne’s coefficient of drag is 0.36: pretty slippery for a high-profile vehicle.

    Inside, the driver is treated to Alcantara leather seats with adjustable lumbar, padded steering wheel, and floor-mounted leather shift lever. The ignition switch is to the left of the steering wheel, as it is in Porsche sports cars.

    It’s all about the journey

    While many active lifestyle vehicles offer cargo versatility at the expense of performance, the Cayenne doesn’t compromise. Unibody construction gives the Cayenne ride and handling characteristics rivaling European sport sedans. Steering response is exceptional at all speeds, thanks to a high level of torsional rigidity.

    At the heart of the GTS is a horizontally-opposed eight cylinder engine rated at 405 horsepower. It accelerates like a panther on steroids, with a zero-to-sixty time of just over six seconds. Its exhaust note is worthy of digital sampling.

    Porsche’s active suspension management system automatically adjusts shock damping according to driving conditions.  Both front and rear suspension systems incorporate aluminum components whenever possible, to minimize unsprung weight.

    The engine redlines 200 rpm above peak horsepower. Drive the Cayenne hard and put it away wet: that’s what it’s built for. Top speed is rev limited to 156 miles-per-hour.

    The GTS comes standard with all-wheel drive, enhancing the car’s performance in rain and snow.  Since the Cayenne lacks a two-speed transfer case and sits relatively low to the ground, I wouldn’t recommend it for extreme off-road terrain.

    Standard 19-inch wheels give the Cayenne large contact patches with the ground, to enhance handling. Porsche is famous for braking performance: the Cayenne is no exception. Six-piston disc brakes up front and four-piston brakes in the rear give the car the ability to stop on a dime, despite its 4949-pound curb weight.

    Designers did an excellent job of making the side mirrors both aerodynamic and effective. Visibility to the sides and back of the car is far better than average, despite the Cayenne’s thick rear pillars. The mirrors also make it possible to see several lanes of adjacent cars: a boon during a busy commute. A standard rear wiper keeps the back glass clear in wet weather.

    Optional bi-xenon headlamps on the test car ($1560) throw a longer beam of light than halogens, with a color temperature closer to daylight.

    Elegant interior

    Inside, the driver will find all he needs to feel comfortable, and drive the car for sport. Seats offer excellent lumbar support and bolstering: the Alcantara surfaces keep passengers in place during hard cornering.

    Analogue gauges for oil pressure, engine temperature and the charging system are more accurate than trouble lights. The gauge cluster also includes a digital information center that displays distance to empty, audio settings, and vehicle speed.

    The steering wheel includes Formula-style shift levers for manual gear selection. The driver can also use controls on the floor-mounted shifter.

    There are three suspension settings, ranging from comfort to sport, with the latter enhancing steering response at speed. The optional navigation system ($3300) is intuitive to operate, with easy-to-read graphics.

    In the German tradition, cupholders in the center console are all but useless. Engineers would suggest that passengers who are drinking shouldn’t drive. Of course, summer temperatures in Germany don’t rival a sunny summer day in Phoenix, Arizona. There are three 12-volt power points: the cigarette lighter at the base of the center stack, and two additional outlets in the cargo area.

    An overhead console includes a sunglass holder, dual overhead reading lamps and moonroof controls. There are two shallow bins under the center console armrests, one of which houses an auxiliary port, USB port and iPod interface.

    The test car comes with an upgraded Bose surround sound system ($1690), satellite radio ($750), and Bluetooth interface ($695). Optional heated seats ($690) keep the front passengers warm in the winter.

    Two passengers will be comfortable in back: a floor tunnel and the center console limit legroom in the center position. There are additional reading lamps in the headliner near the rear windows. Vents in the back of the center console keep passengers comfortable in temperature extremes.

    Versatile cargo area

    A power liftgate comes in handy when loading groceries, luggage or large cargo in back. The Cayenne has a low liftover height, making the cargo bay easier to access for small drivers.

    A ski bag on the test car allows the driver to load in long items without folding the rear seats flat. The seats in the Cayenne aren’t the easiest to fold down: doing so requires flipping the seat cushions forward and removing the headrests. With the second-row seats folded flat, the Cayenne meets our bicycle friendly standards.

    A cargo bay light makes it easier to load up the back at night. A tonneau cover conceals items in back from prying eyes. There are four tie-down loops on the cargo floor for securing large items.

    An optional towing prep package gives the Cayenne towing capacity up to 7700 pounds: over twice our ALV minimum standard.

    Base price on the Cayenne GTS is $74,500. Porsche builds the Cayenne in Leipzig, Germany.

    Likes: A sport-utility vehicle with a versatile interior and large cargo bay, plus outstanding handling and performance. All-wheel drive makes the Cayenne a four-season car.

    Dislikes: Rear seats are difficult to fold flat to extend the cargo floor.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Porsche
    Model: Cayenne GTS Tiptronic
    Year: 2009
    Base price: $74,500
    As tested: $91, 150
    Horsepower: 405 hp @ 6500 rpm
    Torque: 369 lbs.-ft. @ 6700 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: 6.1 seconds
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Towing: Yes
    Off-road: No
    Fuel economy: 13/18 mpg city/highway
    Comments: Base price does not include a $970 delivery charge. The manufacturer recommends premium unleaded fuel.


    2 responses to “2009 Porsche Cayenne GTS Tiptronic”

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