Its proud maker called it “more Porsche and more Cayenne” after rolling out the third generation of its first full production sport/utility vehicle, to the sounds of a symphony composed solely for this debut. The 2019 Cayenne is certainly more Macan, with similar exterior styling but nearly 10 inches more overall length, and with the added value of the interior and 48-volt system of the new Panamera.
Porsche says it has sold about 760,000 Cayennes globally to date, of which roughly half a million were sold from the 2009 facelift on. But now, the smaller, less-expensive Macan is Porsche’s bestseller. So what makes the 2019 Porsche Cayenne more Porsche Cayenne? What separates the Cayenne buyer from the Macan buyer? What do you need to know about this new third-generation Porsche Cayenne before you buy one?
1. The Cayenne is to the Macan what the 911 is to the 718 Boxster/Cayman
And it’s not just about the Cayenne’s new staggered tire sizes. Just as the 718’s mid-engine layout provides inherently better dynamics than the 911’s traditional rear-engine layout, but will never be allowed to match the 911 for power, the Macan compact SUV’s smaller size, lower height and lighter weight provides an inherent advantage over the midsize Cayenne SUV.
“If it comes to sheer performance, for example on the Nordschlieffe, and if you competed with the top model of Cayenne with the top model of Macan, for sure, the Cayenne is faster, “ says Michael Steiner, Porsche’s research & development chief. “Not only by power, but technology-wise, we have more high-end performance technology in the Cayenne than is in the Macan.”
As a less expensive model, Steiner believes, the Macan will remain the bestseller, though he says the new Cayenne will “sell at least as good as the last one.” However, there’s a pretty good chance that, as Porsche’s latest new model, the more expensive Cayenne—$66,750 for the base model and $83,850 for the S—could outsell the Macan, at least for a while.
2. Another parallel with the iconic 911
For more than 53 years now, Porsche engineers have been hard at work mitigating the oversteer inherent in the rear-engine 911, with each generation improving on the last. Changes to the third-generation Cayenne help improve the ride-handling balance while maintaining its two-row SUV roominess.
“For the new Cayenne, we took care to lower the center of gravity slightly by lowering the height, by only some millimeters (0.2mm),” Steiner says. “With the (optional) three-chamber air suspension, we can modify damping, but also spring rates, and you can lower the car by choosing either Sport or Sport+ suspension, or it lowers automatically by 20mm (0.8 inch) at autobahn speeds.”
The air suspension option adds $2,170 to the price of a Cayenne S and $4,160 to the price of a base ’19 Cayenne.
Steiner also cites the staggered tire sizes, as used on the 911 and Panamera, and anti-roll bars electrically controlled by the Cayenne’s new 48-volt electrical system. With aluminum body panels and strategic use of aluminum and steel in its structure, the base Cayenne is 121 pounds lighter, at 4,377 pounds, and the Cayenne S has lost 143 pounds, dropping it to 4,454 pounds.
Finally, “rear-wheel steering,” also an option, “makes the car more agile, more stable,” he says.
3. More engine choices are coming
The 2019 Porsche Cayenne arrives in U.S. dealer showrooms in mid-2018 with a 340-hp turbo 3.0-liter V-6, while the ’19 Porsche Cayenne S comes the same time with a 440-hp twin-turbo 2.9-liter V-6. Both are paired with a Tiptronic S eight-speed automatic for better towing capacity versus Porsche’s PDK dual-clutch automatic, and both come standard with all-wheel-drive. Towing capacity sits at 7,700 pounds, the same as the second-generation Cayenne.
Steiner promises more engine choices in the future, of course, which means a Cayenne Turbo with the 4.0-liter turbocharged V-8, rated 550 horsepower in the Panamera Turbo.
Don’t expect a diesel Cayenne, however, as one is not coming to the U.S. We will get the coming plug-in electric hybrid, though. As for a pure electric, Porsche will use only a dedicated EV platform, such as the one being developed for the production version of Porsche’s Mission-E concept.
4. There’s a new brake option in town
Dr. Steiner’s favorite new Cayenne feature is the Porsche Surface Coated Brake option, which coats the cast-iron discs with tungsten-carbide to increase friction while reducing wear and, more importantly, brake dust. Yes, that means you won’t have to take an old toothbrush to your expensive new wheels every time you wash your Cayenne. While Porsche still considers its carbon ceramic brake option, which adds $9,080 to the sticker ($240 more than the last generation because the rotors are 0.8-inch larger), the PSCB option adds a mere $3,490.
5. About those taillamps…
We recall taillamps spanning the width of a rear deck going back at least as far as the 1965 Buick Electra 225, but there’s more to the 2019 Porsche Cayenne’s exterior lighting. The new SUV features three-stage lighting with standard LED headlamps. The optional Porsche Dynamic Light System (yes, it does seem every expensive option has the words “Porsche Dynamic” in it—this one is thus abbreviated PDLS) offers “variable light distribution,” including cornering lights and motorway lights. We’re not sure exactly what “variable light distribution” means, the top option of LED headlamps with a matrix beam and PDLS means 84 individual light-emitting diodes vary the light distribution and the intensity, so that, for example, you can adjust the lights for adaptive glare control or assure that your high-beams do not blind opposing traffic.
Still a bit of a head-scratcher, isn’t it? If you’re convinced that a Porsche SUV can be as satisfying dynamically as a 911 or 718 (we’re still unsure about that), then you’ll be happy to visit your dealer and find out exactly how all these LEDs make driving better.