How Porsche Made The First-Gen Cayenne Crazy Fast

Off-Road / 3 Comments

A lot of engineering went into ensuring it could perform as a Porsche should.

Over the last two months, Porsche has taken us on an extraordinary behind-the-scenes journey look at how it created the first-generation Cayenne. The last time around, we discovered that it took over an entire town to keep the Cayenne (code-name Colorado) out of the public eye.

This time, it's unveiling how it managed to make the Cayenne crazy fast. The Germans are widely regarded as being responsible for introducing the performance SUV to a global audience. The first was the ML55, introduced in 2000, followed by the first-generation BMW X5 4.8i. The Bimmer was significantly faster and handled better of the two, so we'll give it to them.

But there's also a case to be made for Porsche getting there first, as the Cayenne blew both cars away. It certainly helped that Porsche had access to these cars while designing the Cayenne.

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Porsche
Porsche

Porsche knew it couldn't cut corners on the Cayenne. People on the inside and outside were skeptical about a pure sports car brand entering the SUV segment, but Porsche had to save its brand.

To ensure the Cayenne performed as a Porsche should, it designed an all-new 4.5-liter V8 engine, with or without a turbo. The naturally aspirated Cayenne S produced 340 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. That put the S right in the middle between the X5 and ML55.

The real star of the show was the Cayenne Turbo, which used the same engine but with turbochargers bolted to it. The V8 twin-turbo served up an impressive 450 hp and 457 lb-ft.

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These engines were a magnificent engineering achievement, not just because of the performance. Porsche was still under the impression that people would take these things off-road. From the ground up, the V8 engine was designed to enable all components to handle even more extreme stresses with ease.

But the 4.5 V8's story did not end there. In 2006 Porsche launched the Turbo S, which, at the time, was the second most powerful production Porsche, beaten only by the Carrera GT. Porsche achieved this by revising the two charge air coolers, which resulted in a jump to a whopping 27.5 psi in boost pressure.

The updated powertrain produced 521 hp and 531 lb-ft. With that much power under the hood, it could hit 62 mph in 5.2 seconds and a top speed of 168 mph.

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To keep the Cayenne's wheels pointed toward the ground, Porsche created a new version of Porsche Traction Management. The full-time 4WD system distributed power between the axles 38:62 front to rear, but it could also deliver 100% to the front or rear when required. The Cayenne even had a locking center differential and a low-range transfer box. To further improve the off-road ability, Porsche developed Porsche Active Suspension Management. This could increase the ground clearance to 10.7 inches.

Here's another interesting fact about the Cayenne Turbo S. Given the power and weight, Porsche had to give it all the braking power. The result was 15-inch discs at the front and 14-inch at the rear. It remains the biggest brake system it has put in a series production vehicle to date.

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Porsche only introduced more engines once the Cayenne became a success. The 4.5 V8 was designed as the halo engine to make a bold statement. Once that statement was made, Porsche went digging for less powerful but more efficient engines.

A 3.2-liter VR6 was borrowed from VW, as was the 240 hp diesel. Loyalists nearly died when the first Porsche turbo diesel was launched, but luckily it went away after the whole Dieselgate scandal. These days, Porsche relies on E-Hybrid technology to cater to its green customers and is on the verge of introducing its first-ever EV SUV.

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