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Porsche R&D Chief Wants 911 R-Like Sports Car for Full Production

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We’re huge fans of the Porsche 911 R. And why wouldn’t we be? It’s essentially a wingless 911 GT3 with the engine from a 911 GT3 RS and a six-speed manual transmission. When we drove it, we concluded that “the R is king of the 911 experience; it’s the purest expression of a sports car we’ve seen in an entire generation of Porsches.” But despite its $185,950 MSRP, all 991 units sold out before production began. According to one Porsche executive, though, this ultra-limited edition 911 is exactly the kind of car that should get a full production run.

Speaking to Autocar, Michael Steiner, Porsche’s head of research and development, said Porsche recognizes the “potential for more purist versions of sports cars with no [production] limitation.” He then went on to say that it’s important to build cars that are “fun on the road, not just on the track.”

And while Steiner wouldn’t come right out and say that there will be a new, full-production 911 R, he did say it’s clear there’s significant demand for a 911 R-like sports car.

“What we learned is that there are more and more customers who enjoy pure, fun-to-drive sports cars,” Steiner told Autocar. “Porsche always has some limited as well as unlimited sports cars. For pure sports cars, there’s no need for limitation.”

Exactly, Mr. Steiner. There’s no need to limit the number of pure sports cars your company builds. It doesn’t necessarily have to be called a 911 R, but that would certainly be a great place to start. Let’s just hope the full production run keeps speculators from driving the price up into the millions.

Source: Autocar

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Car Review: 2017 Audi S7 mixes performance, utility in handsome luxury hatchback

WASHINGTON — I know what you’re thinking: “hatchback” and “handsome” don’t really seem to go together in the same sentence. But Audi seems to crack the code of combining standout good looks with extra space for larger items in the trunk area.

Mercedes, BMW and even Porsche have jumped in the luxury performance hatchback game, but I see many more luxury hatchbacks from Audi in my daily commute.

I spent a week with the as-tested $91,000 Audi S7, which packs a 450 horsepower turbo V-8 that turns this normal, useful hatchback into sports car. The power comes on strong from low in the rev range, so there isn’t much waiting — just hit the gas and go, quickly. If 450 horsepower isn’t enough, Audi will sell you a RS7 Performance with 605 horsepower for $131,000.

Most buyers will be more than happy with S7 power, and the quattro AWD system helps put that power to the ground effectively. It also does a nice job of keeping grip on wet pavement and helps some with the handling of this large car. The ride is more euro firm than soft and floaty, but it’s never harsh on city streets; it just feels more in touch with the road. Large brakes have no trouble halting this car down from highway speeds and above. The fuel economy in a week of driving was 20.4 mpg of premium fuel — not that bad for a large performance hatch, but a little under the 21 mpg on the sticker.

Looks can go a long way in selling a car, and pulling off the hatchback isn’t always easy. Audi really gets it right with lines that mimic a two-door coupe more than a sedan. The S7 looks very sleek with a sloping roofline, especially toward the rear of the car; it seems to flow nicely. There is also a muscular look around the bulging wheel arches with larger, 20-inch S-design wheels that give it more of a sporty edge.

There is LED lighting for headlights and turn signals, so the light cluster seems nice and tidy and more sleek than I remember from the A7 I drove four or five years ago. And so you don’t forget that this is the S7, it’s equipped with slick quad exhaust tips sticking proudly out of the rear bumper, showing that this is no normal Audi.

While the looks are great outside, the interior is equally nice but you do have a bit of a penalty for that stylish body type. That sloped roofline impacts rear seat riders. Passengers over 5 feet 9 inches tall will find the headroom tight. At least there is good leg room for the two back seat riders, as this S7 only seats four people. The driver and front passenger have more headroom, and the seats are good for all-day driving.

My test car had the $1,250 Audi Design selection that added red seats and carbon red inlays on the dash trim, which gave the interior a pop. The headliner usually doesn’t stand out in most cars, but it does with this S7. The $3,000 Alcantara microfiber-like material looks and feels very nice.

The S7 isn’t the newest Audi in the lineup, so don’t expect the virtual cockpit that the recent refreshed models have. Still, the easy-to-read gauges are handsome and the NAV screen retracts out of sight when it’s not needed. The MMI Touch controller in the center console takes some time to get used to and it’s not quite good as the MMI controller in the newer Audis either.

Think of the Audi S7 as that all-around car that can be the comfortable daily driver or fun to drive on deserted twisty roads. Still, you can turn it into a cargo-hauling machine that can carry things that a normal sedan couldn’t. Plus, you can do that all in one car that stands out in the crowd. Just look for a 2017 Audi S7 and you might save few dollars, too.

Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI, FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.

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© 2017 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

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2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

What’s New for 2017?

The Shelby GT350 and its R-rated twin were revived in 2016, almost 50 years after retirement. They immediately transcended Mustang performance and earned a spot on our 10Best Cars list. Changes for 2017 are minimal but meaningful. Most notably, the Track package is now standard on the GT350. It includes an aluminum strut-tower brace, a rear spoiler, adaptive dampers, and coolers for engine oil, transmission, and differential. The improved cooling addresses overheating issues some GT350 owners had while driving at the racetrack. Ford also rejiggered the options and paint choices. Last year’s Technology package is now the Electronics package on the GT350; it has Sync 3 infotainment, voice-activated navigation, and a nine-speaker Sony stereo. The new Convenience package has all that, too, but swaps the standard Recaro front buckets for leather-trimmed, power-adjustable seats. The paint colors Ruby Red Metallic, Lightning Blue, and Grabber Blue replace Deep Impact Blue and Competition Orange for 2017.

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Building the 2019 Porsche Cayenne: An insider reveals how it’s done

And then there’s the matter of quality control. Making sure every car and every part is of equal quality is tough enough, yet this is a company that allows its customers to specify virtually any paint or leather color they’d like.

According to Reimold, every customer request must go through the same vigorous testing as a stock part. For instance, if you want that pink leather on the air vents, Porsche must make sure that it looks the same in different lighting and will wear the same over time as “off the shelf” selections like black or Saddle Brown.

To make it all happen, Reimold said it takes a higher-quality worker to deal with such complexity and quality control.

For the 2019 Cayenne, though, things will at least be getting a bit simpler. The production line will now be entirely located at Volkswagen Group’s facility in Bratislava, Slovakia, along with its platform mates, the Audi Q7, Bentley Bentayga and Volkswagen Touareg. By contrast, the previous-generation Cayenne’s body in white and interior were produced in Bratislava and then shipped to Porsche’s facility in Leipzig where it was completed. Despite the move to a facility not strictly dedicated to Porsche, Reimold insists that the logistical systems have remained the same.

He also pointed out that Porsche’s logistical capabilities for customization make it easier to meet the demands of different markets. For instance, Chinese customers have flashier tastes, preferring brighter colors, chrome trim and more features that better call attention to their success. Well, if they want that, Porsche already has the machinations in place to make their customers happy. There’s really no need to make different versions for China, the United States, Europe and elsewhere.

“One of our key success factors is to deliver cars the way people want,” Reimold said. Well, that’s quite literally easier said than done, yet he certainly seems to pull it off.

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2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk First Drive: Fastest SUV Carries a Jeep Badge

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A 707-horsepower Jeep answers a question no one asked about SUV performance, and time will tell if it meets a demand no one knew was there. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is about to start building a batch of 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawks with a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 engine. There are already orders and handraisers for the limited-run SUV rocket that goes on sale in the fourth quarter.

The Hellcat engine generates 707 hp and 645 lb-ft of torque, distributed through the upgraded TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission. It is billed as the fastest SUV in the world.

Jeep claims it will do 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds. I did it in 3.4 seconds on my first try. Don’t give me the credit. On this Jeep it is that easy, and the launch is that good.

Put your left foot on the brake, and hold it down tightly. Press the launch button in the center console below the leather-wrapped shifter. Watch the brake pressure build as you watch it rev from 700 rpm to an ideal 1,800-2,200 rpm. The new torque reserve system makes it possible to hold the engine at 2,200 rpm and develop 6.4 psi of boost standing at the line. The system prepositions the supercharger while cutting fuel to individual cylinders and manages the spark timing to generate a reserve of torque.  Essentially, it gets the air moving while you are standing still so it is primed and ready for launch.

Use your right foot to push the accelerator to the floor. Hold both feet steady, and then quickly dump the brake. The front wheels will lift, your helmeted head will snap back, and the 5,300-pound SUV will shoot forward. You will hold on and giggle. You will never feel out of control with the traction that a four-wheel-drive vehicle provides. Engineers say this is why a Jeep can actually launch faster than a Dodge Challenger Hellcat. Jeep officials just don’t do much bragging about it.

Scott Tallon, director of the Jeep brand, reminds us that Jeep has a history of high performance vehicles dating back to the 1998 Grand Cherokee 5.9 Limited that did 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds and was considered an animal. The first-gen SRT for 2006 did the sprint in 4.8 seconds.

Trackhawk is good for Jeep, Tallon says, as if one of the best-known brand names in the world needed further attributes. But the way he sees it, Jeep has the Wrangler as the poster child for Jeep off-road capability, and the Trackhawk underscores its on-road prowess by exhibiting insane track capability. While Trailhawk denotes best-in-class off-road capability, Trackhawk denotes best-in-class speed. The Jeep Grand Cherokee is the undisputed fasted SUV. For comparison, the third-generation Porsche Cayenne S, unveiled recently, increased its horsepower to 440, though the automaker has yet to debut Turbo and Turbo S variants.

“This is not just an engine swap of a Hellcat into a Grand Cherokee,” Tallon says. The Trackhawk is instrumental in driving the growth of the global brand and rounds out the top end of the lineup.

With so much power, I was expecting the Trackhawk to be a bit raw and brutal in regular driving. That was not the case. The supercharger drive system’s one-way clutch de-coupler improves refinement while allowing the beast under the hood to be heard in guttural growls at low speeds and unleash a series of snorts and pops when you mash the pedal. Those who worked on refinement succeeded. You don’t hear much of the supercharger at tip-in, but the sound increases as you throttle up. Sure the suspension is stiff, but even on a long stretch of rough pavement in Maine and New Hampshire, the Bilstein adaptive damping suspension made the drive quite livable.

The reminder that this has a Hellcat engine comes when you step on the gas to cross a highway, and it lurches forward. Or when you go to pass and grab gobs of power and exceed the speed limit faster than you can check the speedometer. This is one vehicle where current speed should be displayed digitally in giant letters in front of you. The speedometer, located in the lower right of the instrument panel with a traditional needle flitting between speeds listed in 10-mph increments, can make it hard to keep speed in check without setting the cruise control.

FCA claims the Trackhawk will do the quarter mile in 11.6 seconds with a top speed of 180 mph, necessitating a speedometer that goes to 200 alongside the tachometer in the 7.0-inch instrument cluster. The 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen is where you find the Trackhawk Performance Pages that confirm your track prowess. The SUV has new six-piston front Brembo brakes (largest standard front brakes on a Jeep) and four-piston rear Brembos with yellow calipers, which bring the SUV from 60 mph to a stop in 114 feet.

We have not had the chance to test these claims ourselves, but we were able to take the Trackhawk to the newly paved Club Motorsports track in Tamworth, New Hampshire. The 2.5-mile track carved out of the forest has 700 feet of elevation changes to spice up the turns. The Trackhawk devoured it all and never felt overly heavy or lumbering.

Back on real roads, the lane assist system was spotty—sometimes it brought the car in line, but other times it would hold a line that was outside the lane marker.

The Trackhawk starts at $86,995, but you can easily option it up to a $100,000 vehicle. The one I drove in Portland stickered at $99,965, about $20,000 more than an SRT. The options included a $5,000 leather-wrapped interior package, upgraded audio and entertainment system, dual-pane panoramic sunroof, and a trailer-tow package. Other upgrades go from the standard 20-by-10-inch Titanium finish wheels with Pirelli Scorpion Verdes all-season tires to the lighter forged aluminum wheels with three-season Pirelli P-Zero tires.

From behind the wheel you look down at the bulging sculpted hood with dual heat extractors. The Trackhawk also has unique quad exhaust tips, a redesigned fascia, unique headlamps, and a flat-bottom steering wheel with paddle shifters. Like the SRT, the Trackhawk is an inch lower than a regular Grand Cherokee. It has body-colored wheel flares, side sill cladding, supercharged badging on the doors and sills, and Trackhawk badging on the steering wheel and seatbacks. Inside, in addition to miles of leather, are nice carbon-fiber and industrial-looking trim pieces.

The supercharged engine has a cast iron block and a forged steel crankshaft with a damper that has been tested to 13,000 rpm to ensure it won’t burst. Everything from pistons to connecting rods, cylinder heads, and exhaust valves are upgraded to handle the extraordinary demand being placed on them by this engine. Many driveline components were engineered to handle the additional torque output. Even a new oil plan was developed to prevent the liquid from sloshing when the SUV launches.

Similarly, the 2,380cc-per-revolution supercharger was designed to regulate boost pressure to 11.6 psi. The foglamps had to be swapped out for a cold-air scoop in the lower front fascia to get more air to the supercharger.

Many of the modifications are to keep things cooled, especially on the track. There is also a new fuel delivery system with two new pumps to feed the demands of the engine. Track is one of five modes, and it reduces transmission shift times by 68 percent compared with the Auto mode and tightens the suspension to firm; stability control, four-wheel drive, and steering are set for track performance with a 30 percent front and 70 percent rear torque split. The other modes are auto, sport, snow and tow.

Off-road capability is not overly compromised just because the SUV goes like a bat out of hell. It has Jeep’s Quadra-Trac, on-demand four-wheel-drive system with an electronic limited-slip differential and a single-speed active transfer case with a wider chain. There is also a stronger new rear axle, and the SUV can tow 7,200 pounds.

The Trackhawk is a global vehicle built at Detroit’s Jefferson North plant on the same line as the rest of the Grand Cherokees. There will be a limited run, but officials are not saying how many that is or if it will be less than the roughly 2,500 Grand Cherokee SRTs Jeep sells a year with virtually no marketing, promotion, or incentives. The Trackhawk Jeep already has thousands of handraisers, Tallon says. The plan is to be able to build enough in the fourth quarter to meet the initial global demand. He would not say how large the U.S. allotment is.

And buyers will not have to sign a letter acknowledging the risks of driving the vehicle, which is the case for buyers of the even more powerful Dodge Challenger SRT Demon muscle car.

The Grand Cherokee Trackhawk might answer a question that no one asked. But the correct answer for enthusiasts is “yes please.”

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2017 Porsche 911 GTS quick take: Not the fastest 911, but possibly the best

What is it: The latest-generation 911 sports car; GTS versions get better performance without losing daily drivability or jumping to stratospheric prices.

Key Competitors: Chevrolet Corvette Z06, Mercedes-AMG GT, Jaguar F-Type R

Base Price: $120,050 As-Tested Price: $129,560

Highlights: Porsche’s 911 GTS expands on the 911 S with 450 hp (up 30) and both the Sport Chrono Package and Porsche Stability Management (PSM) standard.

Our Opinion: Porsche’s 911 wears a $91,100 base sticker, with its flat-six cranking out 370 hp. A 911 Turbo has 540 hp and the starting price jumps to $162,850. Into that wide gap dashes the 911 GTS. With a horsepower boost over the standard Carrera, oodles of standard equipment and the Carrera 4’s wider, cooler-looking body, to some around Autoweek HQ a GTS is the ideal 911 whether you get rear- or all-wheel drive; manual gearbox or PDK; coupe, Targa or convertible.

No, it’s not as fast as the Turbo, but the GTS is faster than a base Carrera (60 mph arrives in 3.9 seconds compared to the S’ 4.1 seconds) and has quicker reflexes and a glorious wailing exhaust note. We’ve driven a GTS on a track in South Africa, where it was ideal, and again out near Lake Tahoe, ditto. Lately we’ve been tooling around Detroit in a PDK-equipped one, and again it’s been a joy. Even with the goosed performance (and believe me, this engine is a smooth, powerful, delight), the GTS is a comfortable, easy-to-drive around-town cruiser. Detroit’s roads can be choppy and can get crowded. The GTS worked just fine, always quiet and composed and oh so easy to enjoy as a daily driver when track time is hard to come by. That’s arguably as important as any performance increases, in fact.

Speaking of … get out of Detroit and away from the traffic and the GTS is forgiving and full of character. It also loves to hustle. The standard Sport Chrono package mentioned earlier? The four modes — normal, sport, sport-plus and individual — adjust the dual clutch’s quickness, throttle response, exhaust note and the like. The two sport modes bring the most joy. Want to hang the tail out some? Sport or sport-plus is all you, making the car faster and louder, and even letting it get a bit further out of line before electronic gizmos reel it in. Thing is, it still won’t let you get into too much trouble. In fact, it makes you look a hero. Driven quote-unquote normally, the car once again proved perfectly comfortable after a couple hours hustling on the freeway and country two lanes.

Driving any 911 is an event and a privilege. The GTS’ bottom line is there’s just no intimidation here. Good behavior and thrills. A terrific combination.

Wes Raynal

Wes Raynal

– Wes Raynal joined Crain Communications’ circulation department while still in college. When he graduated in 1986, he became a reporter for Autoweek sister publication Automotive News. He has worked as Autoweek’s associate editor, news editor, motorsports editor and executive editor before being named editor in 2009.

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On Sale: Now

Base Price: $120,050

As Tested Price: $129,560

Drivetrain: 3.0-liter turbocharged H6, RWD, seven-speed PDK dual-clutch

Output: 450 hp @ 6,500 rpm; 405 lb-ft @ 2,150 rpm

Curb Weight: 3,241 lb

Fuel Economy: 20/26/23 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)

Options: Porsche PDK ($3,720); Front axle lift system ($2,590); Rear axle steering ($2,090); Heated front seats ($690); Automatically dimming mirrors ($420)

Pros: Perfectly bisects the 911 Carerra and 911 Turbo

Cons: So many great competitors at this price range

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2018 Volvo XC60 T8 first drive review: The accidental performance crossover

With 400 horsepower on tap, you’d think that the 2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Plug-In Hybrid would be the right choice for carving your way through a winding canyon road.

The ingredients are mostly there: a lot of power, a balanced chassis, grippy all-wheel drive, and nicely weighted steering controlled via a thick-rimmed, three-spoke wheel. And automaker’s hip-to-be-square styling works even better here on the five-seat XC60 than it does on the divine, three-row XC90.

MORE: Read our full review of the 2018 Volvo XC60

Yet there’s some fine tuning to be done here, which leaves this powerful, eco-friendly crossover feeling more like a low-guilt hot-rod than a dynamic dream like the Porsche Macan Turbo that Volvo floats as the closest thing to a rival for the gutsiest of Volvo crossovers.   

2018 Volvo XC60 T8

2018 Volvo XC60 T8

Enlarge Photo

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however, since the wildly popular compact crossovers the XC60 lineup generally emphasize comfort and style over tenacity—which stretches from the 250-hp T5 through the 316-hp T6 before landing at the range-topping T8 with its estimated 400 turbocharged, supercharged, and electrified ponies.

We recently put about 30 miles on an XC60 T8 Plug-In Hybrid on a short drive through the Rocky Mountain foothills in Colorado and it whet our appetite for more. Consider this an incomplete review, perhaps, since we weren’t able to test out its 10.4-kWh lithium-ion battery pack’s approximately 20-mile all-electric range. Our test car’s battery was fully depleted, although what the regenerative brakes lacked in feel, they made up for in their ability to supply a little more juice to the battery for short distances.

Volvo quotes about three hours of charging time on a 220-volt outlet, which is about par for the course among plug-in hybrid vehicles with a similar capacity.

An XC60 with more

Aside from its difficult-to-modulate brakes, the XC60 T8 drives like its brethren. That’s high praise. Its steering is weighted nicely and accurate, leaving this tall-riding wagon feeling more like a sedan even on a winding canyon road.

The 400-jewel movement found underhood pairs the T6’s 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged inline-4, 8-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive with a battery pack that can both aid passing response and allows for emissions-free driving under low load situations and for up to 20 miles in normal driving.

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Porsche Museum Vault: The secret collection you have to see

For any car fan, making a trip to Germany at some point is must. Beyond seeing how fast you can go on the Autobahn, each of the manufacturers have museums worth checking out. One is the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen, just outside Stuttgart. The imposing modern structure sits among the various Porsche HQ buildings and 911 production, filled with the greatest hits of Porsche’s production and racing history.

However, what you can see in the Museum is but the tip of a very deep iceberg. A short drive away in a top-secret location is what you could call the museum vault. Here is where Porsche keeps all its concept cars, prototypes, design studies, promotional cutaways and race cars that can be pulled out for use in the museum or shipped around the world for marketing and PR purposes. For instance, Porsche always features one or two of these cars at its annual New York Auto Show press event. There’s also at least one version of every car the company has produced, including special edition versions like the recent 911R.

Although many have always been in Porsche’s possession, the company has purchased some to fill out the collection, relying only on survivor cars as opposed to those that have been restored. The vault facility itself has a shop that refurbishes them as needed to make them show-worthy.

Some of my personal highlights include a Porsche Cayenne convertible design study (let’s call it the Cayenne Cross Cabriolet), a teal bulletproof 996, the bonkers Panamericana concept (also teal), the world’s only rear-engine and all-wheel-drive 944, a 928 convertible prototype (never produced), and an amazing Kermit green Carrera 3.0 Targa with the most perfect tartan fabric interior I’ve ever seen. Really, though, virtually everything you see is amazing in one way or another with an interesting story behind it — I could’ve spent a full day inside rather than the 90 minutes we were given.

Although the vault is sadly not open to the public, we hope you enjoy this brief photographic taste and make a point to visit the regular Porsche Museum at some point. It’s worth the flight to Stuttgart.

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Porsche Rennsport Reunion VI returns to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

The sixth Porsche Rennsport Reunion is headed back to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, set for Sept. 27-30 2018. It’ll be the third time the event has hit the famous California track. The Reunion was staged in ’07, ’11 and ’15, but now it’s going back to every three years, says Porsche, so expect another in 2021. The first show-shine-race was held at Connecticut’s Lime Rock Park in 2001, followed by two at Daytona Speedway. Since then, it’s been out west at Laguna.

“Choosing the Monterey Peninsula once again for our unique Porsche family reunion builds upon what we learned from previous Rennsport Reunions,” said Klaus Zellmer, president and CEO of Porsche Cars North America. “We had close to 60,000 fans, enthusiasts and owners come through the gates of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to celebrate with us in 2015, and California’s picturesque central coast provides an ideal backdrop. The Golden State as a whole has always been like a second home to Porsche.”

For the uninitiated, Rennsport Reunion is a gathering of Porsches and Porsche drivers, collectables and history. It features everything from the 550 Spyder street car to the RS endurance racer as well as current sports, racing and street cars. Usually, the company brings a few consumer surprises, too. Guests get four days of racing culminating in a special Concours d’Elegance. More than 1,300 Porsche Club of America members showed up for the fifth incarnation, along with about 60,000 spectators.

More details will appear at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s website ( as they become available.

Jake Lingeman

Jake Lingeman

– Jake Lingeman is Road Test Editor at Autoweek, reviewing cars, reporting on car news, car tech and the world at large.

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2019 Porsche Cayenne First Look

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The Macan has become Porsche’s best-selling vehicle by a large margin, but the Cayenne started it all. Arriving in the U.S. for the 2003 model year and now in its third generation, the midsizer has proven high-end SUVs are here to stay. For 2019, the Cayenne receives new turbocharged engines, a lighter body, and other updates that hint at improved performance.

Porsche says the new Cayenne is “designed to be the sports car within its segment.” A redesigned front end with larger air intakes and more aggressive creases along the hood help the SUV look the part. “For the design it was important to have fresh, new styling but keep it Cayenne,” says Stephan Lenschow, Cayenne body product manager. “So the front, we have the typical Porsche design DNA. The grille is wider, and then we try and we reduced the roofline toward the back. So we have more of like a coupe—or  911-style. In the last generation, we didn’t have very much possibility to make our own door styling because we shared the platform with the VW Touareg. Now have completely new doors, our own doors, with a little bit more ‘Coke-bottle’ design.”

The wheelbase remains unchanged from the previous generation, but Porsche increased the Cayenne’s overall length slightly by about 3 inches to 194 inches, and the coefficient of drag is 0.35.

Despite a small increase in length, the Cayenne hasn’t gained any weight. In fact, it loses up to 143 pounds, depending on the configuration, thanks to a lighter chassis. Much like the new 911 and Panamera, the new Cayenne makes extensive use of aluminum. All of the body-in-white, including the doors, roof, hood, and rear hatch, is aluminum, and the ratio of aluminum to high-strength steel is roughly 50-50, Lenschow says. Use of lightweight materials, including a lithium-ion polymer starter battery that saves 22 pounds by itself, also helps with weight distribution, which in base configuration is approximately 55 percent front and 45 percent rear.

Producing a mixed-metal body is no mean feat because the properties of steel and aluminum preclude welding them directly together. At the Bratislava, Slovakia, plant where the Cayenne will be made, Lenschow says 680 robots use more than 630 special “float drill screws” and nearly 557 feet of bonding agent to create each SUV, along with approximately 6,800 weld points—between MIG (metal inert gas) and laser welding. Porsche’s mixed-metal approach not only results in lighter weight, but it also results in increased torsional rigidity, which is up by approximately 20 percent over the previous generation.

At launch, Porsche will offer just two versions of the Cayenne. The base model now receives a turbocharged engine in the form of a 3.0-liter V-6 with a single turbo. Producing 340 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque, the engine makes 40 more hp and 37 more lb-ft than its predecessor. Hitting 60 mph should take 5.9 seconds in standard form or 5.6 with the Sport Chrono package, Porsche says. That’s way ahead of its estimate for the previous Cayenne, which was 7.3 seconds, or 7.2 seconds with Sport Chrono. Top track speed is 152 mph.

For the Cayenne S, Porsche brought out a new 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 making 440 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque, up 20 hp. Top speed is 164 mph. The new Cayenne S is estimated to crack the 4-second mark in its run to 60 mph, estimated to take 4.9 seconds, or 4.6 seconds with Sport Chrono.

All Cayennes come standard with an eight-speed Tiptronic S transmission that now promises quicker response times in lower gears. Also improving performance is new braking technology that Porsche claims is first in the world. Available as an option, these high-performance Porsche Surface Coated Brakes (PSCB) consist of a cast-iron disc with 70 micrometers of tungsten-carbide coating. Once bedded in, the surface of the brakes shine like a mirror, but they have better performance over steel brakes, with less wear and a longer life. Karl Heess, Porsche director for product line SUV, says PSCB reduce brake dust by as much as 50 percent (over conventional steel brake discs) and extend the life of the disc by up to 35 percent. They are more expensive than steel discs but still up to 50 percent less than Porsche’s ceramic brake option.

For the first time, Cayenne gets staggered front and rear tire sizes, ranging from 19 to 21 inches in diameter.  This makes it the last vehicle in Porsche’s lineup to follow in the footsteps of the 911, which famously staggered the width of its tires to account for the mass of the rear-mounted engine. When asked why Porsche would do this on a front-engine SUV, Heess replied, “The same reasons—for agility, stability, performance, and yes, for optics.”

For 19-inch wheels, width is 8.5 inches in front and 9.5 inches for the rears. Opt for 21-inch wheels, and the widths are 9.5 inches and 11.0 inches, respectively. Cayennes with optional 21-inch wheel and tire packages also receive slightly wider composite fender flares.

Rear-axle steering is also an option and helps reduce the turning radius of the Cayenne at low speeds for better maneuverability.

Lenschow and Heess independently said that the focus was to improve Cayenne’s on-road performance without sacrificing its off road-ability, which is why all-wheel drive is standard on the Cayenne, and when drivers venture off-road, they can opt between different modes, including Mud, Gravel, Sand, or Rocks. Wading depth is 20.7 inches, and the Cayenne can attack boulders of a reasonable size with an approach angle of 27.1 degrees, a breakover of 21.1 degrees, and a departure angle of 24.1 degrees.

Porsche Active Suspension Management brings variable damping as standard on the Cayenne S and optional on the base model, which comes with traditional coil springs and dampers. Buyers can now choose a new air suspension with a third air chamber that allows for more specific calibration of the suspension settings.

“You can combine the three chambers to one volume, so you have great comfort,” Heess says. “The system will choose what situation you drive, the right combination of the volumes. (Each chamber is a different size.) In Sport Plus, you have only the small volume, so you have a high rate for the spring. If you drive in the city in Comfort mode, all three volumes are combined, so you have a lot of comfort.”

The option of air suspension also gives Cayenne a range of ride heights. “If you drive very sporty, you have to only use one chamber of the volume,” Heess says. “In high speed, at max velocity, you are on the lowest level for the car.” The lowest ride height is 1.1 inches lower than normal; the highest is 2.2 inches (and speed limited). Air suspension can also be used independently front to rear, for load leveling, or when towing (and the Cayenne is rated to tow up to 7,700 pounds).

Also new is Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control with stabilizer bars controlled via a 48-volt electrical system instead of a hydraulic setup. Heess is particularly proud of this new system: “We have more with the electric anti-roll system. We have more dynamism. We are quicker to compensate for rolling. If the car is loaded with two persons, we can compensate in Sport Plus up to 0.7 g.”

Inside the cabin, the Cayenne receives a new 12.3-inch touchscreen that originally made its debut on the new Panamera. Near the shifter, touch surfaces control some of the most in-demand functions. Porsche spent a lot time on the Cayenne’s seats. Up front there is a standard Comfort seat and a new optional sport seat with an integrated headrest. The second-row seats fold nearly flat, and they can slide approximately 6 inches. With the rear seats up, cargo room increases almost 15 percent compared to the old model.

A number of safety systems are available on the Cayenne, including lane change assist, lane keeping assist with traffic sign recognition, traffic jam assist, adaptive cruise control, and night vision assist, which can see pedestrians and animals even if the driver can’t.

Despite all of these helpful features, Porsche is confident that its new Cayenne is the best driver of the segment even with a host of new challengers. “You will be amazed,” Heess says. “I think it’s the same level as Macan. It’s really the sports car for the SUV. I don’t think you will find better—but I’m a Porsche guy.”

The 2019 Porsche Cayenne arrives in dealerships midway through 2018. The Cayenne is available to order from $66,750, and S models start at $83,950.

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