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First look: Porsche reveals Cayenne

Cayenne pepper: The V8-powered Cayenne S (rear) and the Cayenne Turbo performance flagship.

Porsche shows first pictures at the Geneva motor show of the long-awaited Cayenne

6 Mar 2002

By MARTON PETTENDY in GENEVA

IN what is rapidly becoming one of the most drawn-out vehicle releases in recent times, Porsche used yesterday's Geneva motor show opening to reveal the first official pictures of its first five-door, the Cayenne sports utility vehicle.

Though it still will not say exactly where the high-performance off-roader will be publicly revealed in the metal, it is likely Porsche will use September's Paris motor show to unveil Zuffenhausen's keenly awaited BMW X5 and Range Rover rival.

As these images show, Cayenne follows traditional Porsche styling cues, its low-slung wagon body featuring distinctive 911-style headlights, an aggressively sloping bonnet and a menacingly deep front bumper. All this is draped over a massive wheel and tyre combination with an extremely low ride-height, indicating the use of adjustable-travel suspension.

While it remains coy about many of Cayenne's key details, Porsche did come clean with a number of the car's vital statistics at Switzerland's annual auto-fest. Though there was no mention of the entry level V6-powered five-seater, Porsche president and CEO Dr Wendelin Wiedeking did reveal the company's first SUV would be available in two guises: the V8-powered Cayenne S and the Cayenne Turbo performance flagship.

Both the S and Turbo Cayennes are powered by a newly developed 4.5-litre V8, delivering 250kW and 420Nm of torque in the naturally-aspirated Cayenne S, and a whopping 331kW and 620Nm for the twin-turbocharged Cayenne Turbo. Both engines are said to meet strict EU4 emissions standards, not due until 2005.

Porsche claims the Cayenne S will sprint to 100km/h in 7.2 seconds on its way to a 242km/h top speed, while the Cayenne Turbo flagship is said to complete the 0-100 dash in just 5.6 seconds, with an outstanding 266km/h top speed - figures that propel Cayenne to the top of the SUV heap.

Porsche also divulged the fact Cayenne will feature an inter-axle differential lock and low-range gear ratios, plus Porsche stability management and a best-in-class towing capacity of 3500kg.

Vehicle dimensions for Porsche's third model line were also revealed, including a 2855mm wheelbase, 1928mm width and 1699mm height, with the Turbo's more substantial front bumper with additional air inlets adding 4mm to the length of the 4782mm Cayenne S. Visually, the Turbo also adds bonnet "power domes" and four exhaust outlets.

"It only takes one glance to recognise that with its low engine hood and boldly styled headlamps, the Cayenne is a true and unmistakable Porsche," said Dr Wiedeking in Geneva.

"In the same way as the 911 and Boxster, the Cayenne makes use of large, relaxing but boldly shaped panel areas. The rear side panels echo the classic shoulders of the 911 body and emphasise not only the power and sporting character, but also the elegance of the Cayenne.

"Our designers faced the challenge of creating a vehicle that didn't try to follow current fashions or trends that would soon be out of date. This is the true secret of the fascination and emotion generated by Porsche. We will never allow Porsche design to be hip or trendy, only to lose its appeal after a single season. I expect you can think of several situations in which that has happened." Pilot production of Cayenne is due to begin soon with sales expected in Europe and the US "sometime in the second half" of 2002.

According to Porsche Cars Australia, the nation's strong off-roader and Porsche following means it will contribute strongly to Cayenne's expected annual volume of at least 25,000 units worldwide from a new Leipzig factory in Germany, with up to 800 Cayennes expected to be sold annually Down Under.

It is believed the 3.2-litre V6 version, when it appears, could be sold at under $100,000, while the Cayenne Turbo is likely to nudge $200,000.

Porsche officials denied sliding global SUV sales, a contracting US sports vehicle market and the release of an all-new Range Rover have conspired to affect Cayenne's development, saying its production plans remain "on target".

"Porsche plans to write another chapter in the success story of recent years when the Cayenne goes on sale," said Dr Wiedeking.

"The prospects are excellent. Our company's independence is guaranteed and we have the financial room to manoeuvre that we need. We shall carry out this major project without neglecting any of our other future plans." For our complete wrap-up of the Geneva motor show, don't miss next week's automotive e-news. It's free to subscribe, just go to www.mellor.net and follow the prompts.

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