CAYENNE is the model that rescued Porsche from sports car obscurity, so a new one is a big event. It's easy to forget how small the legendary marque's sales were until the big luxury SUV joined the line-up in 2002, almost instantly becoming the brand's global bestseller.
"The Cayenne is one of the main pillars of Porsche for 15 years,” says company boss Oliver Blume, atop the company's Stuttgart museum for the unveiling of the latest edition.
Some of the profit reaped by the Cayenne was spent developing proper Porsches; low, lovely and agile, with their engines somewhere behind the seats, the ones diehard fans really care about. The big SUV is therefore indirectly responsible for a parade of great sports cars.
In Australia, for example, the smaller Macan compact SUV - a natural follow-up to the big SUV's chart-busting success - accounts for 50 per cent of Porsche sales. But the Cayenne, with a 30 per cent share, remains the company's No.2 here.
The completely new model shown last week indicates Porsche doesn't think it should mess with success. At first glance, the third-generation Cayenne looks like the 2009 second-generation model it replaces but the more shapely rear resembles the Macan's.
Longer and wider than before, the new Cayenne is also a fraction lower. Passenger space remains the same and cargo volume grows by up to 100L, a useful amount.
Widespread use of aluminium in the body, including all external panels, helps reduce weight by up to 65kg. The most basic versions will still weigh in at about two tonnes but this will be the lightest Cayenne yet built.
Change is easier to find inside the new Cayenne's cabin. A big and bright 12.3-inch high-definition touchscreen occupies the centre of the dashboard and, the big central tachometer apart, the instruments are all high-def screens as well.
The smooth glass centre console surround is home to a bunch of buttons that deliver both audio and haptic feedback - that is, they feel and sound like old-school physical buttons.
Naturally, the new Cayenne will make a great leap forward in connectivity. The vehicle's built-in access to the web is behind numerous neat features promised by Porsche, including online navigation.
"The Cayenne is based heavily on the iconic 911 sports car,” says Porsche's press material, seeking to establish credibility by association for the hefty SUV. Don't believe it ...
True, the Cayenne adopts some technologies seen in the 911 but there's no way a five-door all-wheel-drive wagon with V6 and V8 engines up the front can truly be "based” on a two-door coupe with flat-six engines behind its rear wheels.
The Cayenne's closest relative is the Q7 from Audi, also owned by the VW Group. Both are built up from the same matrix of technical elements the company calls MLB Evo.
This box of high-quality bits also will provide the basis for the group's other big SUVs, including the bulky Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini's planned sports luxury SUV and the next VW Touareg.
The new Cayenne eventually will have a broad variety of engines and transmissions. Porsche provided details only of the first-to-launch petrol V6s at Stuttgart. The basic Cayenne will come with a 250kW 3.0-litre turbo V6, while the Cayenne S gets a 324kW 2.9-litre V6 with twin turbos.
Both V6s are the product of a joint development program by Porsche and Audi, which also produced the 405kW 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 in the new Panamera Turbo. This in turn is sure to find its way underneath the Cayenne's bonnet.
The Cayenne is also certain to get one or both of the Panamera's plug-in hybrid drivetrains, V6 and V8.
Diesel is seemingly an unmentionable word inside any VW Group brand in the wake of Dieselgate but it's hard to imagine Porsche isn't also planning a turbo diesel Cayenne - Audi provides a fine diesel V8 for the new Panamera, after all.
The new Cayenne is in Australia about the middle of 2018. Prices and specification will be announced in February, months in advance.
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