Want to know why the new, second-generation Porsche Cayenne – unveiled today – is so important to Porsche's business model? Consider this. They've sold more than 170,000 of them, and it routinely makes up a third of Porsche's annual volumes, outselling even the staple 911 breadwinner.
In fact, for those who consider the Cayenne 4x4 anathema to the sports car maker's core values, remember that in certain overseas markets the Porsche 4x4 is now frequently the first model buyers notice; Porsche sells 1000 Cayennes a month in China, for instance. 'Some Chinese buyers don’t even know we are a sports car maker,' technical director Wolfgang Durheimer admits to CAR.
He adds that the new Cayenne was designed to have 'greater social acceptance' – and this percolates every aspect of its make-up, from its gentler style to its lighter weight. Sales start in June 2010.
Porsche Cayenne Mk2: the full story
Key to making the Cayenne cleaner and quicker is a strict diet carving out around 180kg from the scales reading. The 4wd system is 63kg lighter; greater use of aluminium saves 66kg in suspension; the body is 111kg lighter thanks to less chunky doors, boot and bonnet; even the wiring harness is 10kg lighter. Mind you, the Cayenne S still weighs in at a podgy 2065kg total.
The new 2010 Cayenne line-up goes something like this (NB not all performance and emissions claims available yet):
• Cayenne V6, 296bhp, 7.8sec 0-62mph, 28.5mpg
• Cayenne D 236bhp 3.0 V6 TD, 38.2mpg, 195g/km
• Cayenne S 395bhp 4.8 V8, 5.9sec 0-62mph, 26.9mpg
• Cayenne S Hybrid 329bhp 3.0 V6 supercharged and 46bhp electric motor, 34.4mpg, 193g/km
• Cayenne Turbo 493bhp 4.8 V8, 4.7sec 0-62mph, 27.6mpg
The Cayenne S Hybrid has a 329bhp petrol V6 from the Audi S4 and adds a 46bhp electric motor – combined it averages 193g/km, making it the cleanest Porsche on sale. Who'd have thought those bragging rights would belong to a hulking SUV? It has what Porsche calls a 'sailing' function where the engine switches off at up to 97mph for silent EV mode cruising.
The Hybrid S weighs 160kg more than the basic V6 petrol. Durheimer says he has driven 2km on full battery EV mode and still had 50% of charge left. ‘When you drive through town silenty, all of a sudden everyone is on your side.' Makes a chance from other hand movements that greet Porsches in certain quarters of the UK.
Two of the five new Cayennes on sale dip beneath 200g/km. Across the range, CO2 is down by 26%, fuel consumption falls by 23%.
How have they made the Cayenne cleaner?
Well, it's not that difficult when your predecessor was such a porker, you could argue. But the Cayenne Mk2 has a plethora of tech, as well as a lighter skeleton. There's better thermal management, stop-start as standard and an eight-speed auto transmission on all bar the V6, which has a manual option.
Ok, ok. So it's purer. But will the Cayenne still drive like a Porsche?
Sounds like it. Power steering is electro-hydraulic, Porsche Torque Vectoring is now offered and the suspension and steering are all retuned versions of what went before. The drop in weight can only help handling and performance.
What of the style? The designers aimed to make the 2010 Cayenne cleaner and a more obvious member of family. So the front looks more like a 911, there's a less bluff face and the rear window is at a faster angle. Mind you, the rear lights look like a Ford Kuga's and the back of the car has serious overtones of Infiniti.
Inside, there's more space thanks to a 40mm stretch in wheelbase and the rear seats slide back and forth by 160mm. We hope you're a fan of the Panamera's button-festooned centre console, because the Cayenne gets it now as well.
The new 2010 Porsche Cayenne will cost from £41,404 for a V6, rising to a stout £81,589 for the Turbo. The clever-clogs Hybrid S will cost £57,610, making it the second priciest Cayenne on sale.