KIA Insider

ROAD TEST: The 2018 Porsche Cayenne family SUV

PORSCHE has released its third generation Cayenne 16 years after the original.

It might look familiar but every panel is new from the wheels up, and the range starts with a more powerful base model.

Here are five things we learned after seven days.

1. The base model now has a bit of poke.

The original Porsche Cayenne could be beaten at the traffic lights by a Toyota Tarago V6 people mover. The new one has enough oomph to warrant the Porsche badge.

The new base model still has a 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine but it's now turbocharged (250kW/450Nm).

Paired with an eight-speed auto, that's enough to do the 0 to 100km/h dash in a fraction less than 6 seconds, faster than most hot hatches.

The transmission is a smooth operator and sends power primarily to the rear wheels most of the time, though this is hard to detect from the driver's seat.

2. Fuel economy is impressive.

We did 1000km in the Cayenne and although we didn't quite get diesel-like economy (Porsche has recently announced a departure from diesel) we came pretty close.

Without driving for economy we averaged between 9 and 10L/100km after mostly freeway driving.

Consumption dropped when the average speed was about 80km/h but picked up again at freeway speeds and in stop-start city and suburban driving.

Without the freeway driving to improve economy, expect closer to 12 to 14L/100km around town if you drive with a lead foot.

3. It grips like a cat on carpet.

Wide, sticky tyres help keep the new Cayenne glued to the road. The rear tyres are wider the front for added stability, though it does preclude owners from rotating the tyres and extending their life.

It's also inconvenient if you get a flat. Under the cargo floor is a spare tyre that is in effect the worst of both worlds: a space saver that needs to be inflated.

Most buyers don't venture too far off the beaten track, or away from a metropolis, so in most cases won't be adversely affected if they cop a puncture.

4. Safety is a mixed bag.

There is no doubt the Cayenne will protect occupants in a crash; there are 10 airbags in the cabin should the worst happen.

Crash prevention is a different story. Standard fare is a camera-based automatic emergency braking system that brings the car to a halt briefly, waiting for the driver to intervene to stop rolling further.

Although this basic system can spot pedestrians and cyclists, you need to opt for radar cruise control ($3790) for fully autonomous emergency braking.

Lane-keeping assistance that steers a car within a lane is a $1390 option.

It's unusual for this technology not to be standard on a $129,000 vehicle given radar cruise control and lane keeping assistance are standard on a $26,000 Kia Cerato sedan and a $62,000 Ford Ranger ute, for example.

Blind zone warning is standard but, unusually, rear cross-traffic alert, fitted to most new premium-priced SUVs, is not available at any price.

5. Porsche's infotainment requires patience.

There is a large touchscreen in the dash plus the centre console is effectively a large touch pad with haptic feedback and a few buttons. With practice you can master it, although it's not user-friendly at first.

Some basic functions require several menu steps. For example, disabling the automatic stop-start is a two-step process rather than one button.

And finding your favourite radio stations takes several steps and/or a gentle swipe of the touchscreen.

At a glance: Porsche Cayenne

Price: $129,000 drive-away

Engine: Single turbo 3.0-litre V6 petrol

Power: 250kW/450Nm

Transmission: 8-speed auto, AWD

Servicing: Capped price servicing not available, 12 months/15,000km intervals, 3-yearr warranty

Safety: 10 airbags, partial automatic emergency braking, pedestrian pop-up bonnet, front and rear sensors, 360-degree camera, blind zone warning are standard.

Consumption: 9.2L/100km

Spare tyre: Space saver that requires inflation