Roadshow Video Reviews
2011 Porsche Cayenne GTSPorsche's top seller gets its first full revamp.
Lower, shorter, sleeker, rounder, and lighter. This thing's actually starting to look like a Porsche. Let's jump in the 2011 Cayenne S and check the tech. Easy to spot, the second-generation Cayenne doesn't come off like such a blunderbuss anymore. It's much more curvaceous. Has eyes like a Carrera, a cabin from a Panamera, a shorter nose-to-tail distance, and fuel economy you won't have to hide your head over. Now, inside the new Cayenne, you could also be inside the new Panamera. They've carried over that cabin design with this wide, deep, very button-laden center console and stack. There's a lot going on here. We have the PVCC which is the full-on in-car electronics package. That includes the navigation system. It's got a very nice looking map these days. Porsche's come a long way of that, and compared to some other Porsches, especially some recent 911s, they've really moved the screen up and tilted it towards you. It's a touchscreen as you can see. It's not like any other interface in the car biz. You've got this guy here to unroll some sort of mini-icon widget buttons. No one else really does that. When you touch the screen, it pulls up a few more things like magnification and direction. You've also got a knob to handle zoom here. This is kind of a one-off in the auto business. Let's go to our audio now. Sources on that guy include AM, FM, satellite radio, disc, we have a single disc slot right here, and we've also got auxiliary which in this case can include Bluetooth streaming as well as a standard aux and a USB over here. Now, we have a Bose audio rig--that's optional--as is the nearly $6000 Burmeister surround system. We can tell you it sounds good but not the most stunning we've heard. Once we move off the center stack, lots of what's devoted to the console are comfort controls, and sissy grab bars as well. They're here on the door and the console. You've got cooled seats, heated seats, all manner of ventilation controls here, and here is our eight-speed Tiptronic shifter, a manual gate on this side, the usual PRND in the middle, and paddles that are very disappointingly mounted on the wheel instead of on the stalk where they should be. Over here are your drive controls. A sport mode here takes over all the vehicle's sort of behaviors or you can independently adjust your suspension for comfort, normal, or sport, which includes lowering the chassis. You've also got a manual chassis lowering control here and you've got a terrain control over on this side. Nice Porsche cluster here in front of you. I like the one that's just to the right of the tachometer. That is the sort of multifunctional round video screen. You can check tire pressure, look at vehicle stats on mileage and range, look at your audio system, what you're looking at currently. There's navigation, text for your next direction. Here's a subset of the map. Here are my phone status indications. Now, for a near $100,000 car, as equipped, from a very-esteemed engineering company, this Cayenne's kinda full of small, well, not so small, ergonomic gaps. The worst one has to be the two cup holders here. Nicely placed, beautifully stable and well engineered--too well engineered. These little prongs that hold your cup together are designed by the devil because they're too stiff and they're too grippy. You do like this, they won't let go, and then all of a sudden, that. Other frustrations include the unlock button, the master for the car. It's over here on the console. There isn't one on the doors. This overhead console here has lots of legends printed on these buttons and there's lots of them but they're so flat facing, you gotta do this and look way underneath there, that's fun while you're driving. Now, the engine bay of our Cayenne, wonder of a motor, a 4.8-liter V8 with just about everything cool about gas engines going on within it. Direct injection, quad cam, four valves per cylinder, all manner of variable valve timing throughout it. You've also got dry sump lubrication so instead of the usual crank case hanging down under the engine, there's a reservoir offshore and all the lubrication is pumped in under pressure. This is about as good as they get. The numbers are also nice, 400 horsepower, 369 foot-pounds of torque. It feels good across the rev range, aside from when the transmission gets in the way, and 16/22 MPG. 400 horsepower is considerable, but power was just not the main memo I got from this car. Handling was. Nothing this big or tall or heavy has the right to feel this much like a car and a nimble one at that, and not only does it stick, but it does so without feeling like it just performed a miracle when it does and that's the real magic. I blame the eight-speed Tiptronic automatic for the power delivery being not much like a sports car. There's just too much thinking and gear shuffling going on when you stab it, need to get some power right now. And you can go into sport mode which helps a lot, but then there's too much tautness and too much busy-ness in the RPMs. I just never found a good happy medium between taut and comfortable everyday driving. Okay, let's price this big boy. This new generation 2011 Cayenne S, base is at about $64,700. Then, it's like going to one of those fancy restaurants where even the potatoes are la carte. Let's start with PCM which gives you hard drive nav, DVD playback, USB for iPod and thumb drives. It's kind of a key thing, but $3600. XM is still $750 on top of that. Rear seat entertainment is about $3000. Just buy a couple iPads and save $2000. A rear park camera and park sensor package is a stunning $1800. No wonder we just had the sensors. Even the factory can't afford it. Ceramic brakes are an absurdity on a non-turbo at $8200. Instead, spend just a little more on a combination of rear-torque vectoring, active suspension, air shocks, and active anti-roll to double down on what this vehicle does best. I did a quick tally and could easily put together close to $40,000 in tech and interior options alone before doing all the bespoked stuff on the inside and the outside that isn't tech, so it wouldn't be hard to spend more on options than the $64,000 base price of our Cayenne S and there's just something wrong about that.