What It Is: A near-complete preview of the next-generation Porsche Cayenne. Although the smaller Macan has overtaken the Cayenne as Porsche’s best-selling vehicle, sales remain high for the mid-size truck (it outsold the 911 by a margin greater than 300 units last month), and all consumer trends remain pointed directly at high-riding crossovers and SUVs, not low-slung sports cars.
As seen in these spy photos of a barely concealed prototype, the Cayenne’s general shape and appearance change little, although the most interesting tweaks are obstructed by tape. At the nose, leading the elongated front overhang is a subtly changed grille. The lower fog-light windows are a bit wider, a full-length slat has been added, and the shape of the radiator opening has been slightly altered. This prototype’s headlights are covered by stickers depicting the lights on the current-gen car, but it wouldn’t be surprising if they were a variation on Porsche’s four-LED cluster that’s spread across the lineup.
In the rear, this test mule has dual trapezoidal exhaust tips similar to those seen on the current base-model Cayenne. The upswept rear character line has been reshaped into a simpler crease across the rear, and there’s tape in an attempt to conceal what looks like a full-width light bar connecting the taillights. We can assume that when Porsche reveals the car, it will mention something about a wider stance and a more planted appearance; the roofline also appears to be more steeply sloped, with a sharper angle to the D-pillar and liftgate.
Why It Matters: The Porsche Cayenne’s appeal rests on its emphasis on sport in a market segment where utility often dominates. Although the body looks very similar, we expect this new version to get even more refined driving manners as well as a lighter and stiffer chassis that can only improve on the already superb vehicle dynamics. This generation also could provide the base for Porsche’s first forays into fully electric propulsion.
Platform: The new Cayenne will sit on the Volkswagen Group’s MLBevo platform. This is the second generation of the automaker’s modular longitudinal chassis, which means it also could feature a 48-volt electrical subsystem used to power active suspension components and the engine stop/start system. The Audi Q7 and the Bentley Bentayga already use the platform (and have a 48-volt system), as will the next Volkswagen Touareg and the upcoming Audi Q8 and Lamborghini Urus. Shifting to this aluminum-intensive architecture could help Porsche pare as much as 200 pounds off the Cayenne, with benefits for both performance and efficiency.
Powertrain: Odds are that the next-generation Cayenne’s powertrain lineup will look the same, but the engines should be all new, courtesy of Porsche’s recently redesigned Panamera sedan. While the current-gen car is powered by a naturally aspirated V-6 in the base model, we wouldn’t be surprised if this third-generation model uses the base Panamera’s turbocharged V-6. As with the current Cayenne, the S and GTS will be powered by a twin-turbo six, and a twin-turbo V-8 will feature in the Turbo model. Also shared with the Panamera, the plug-in 4 E-Hybrid powertrain, which combines a twin-turbocharged V-6 with an electric motor, will be an option. A new addition to the lineup will be a top-of-the-range Turbo S E-Hybrid model, which will have the same combination of a 680-hp twin-turbo V-8 and an electric motor as in the newest Panamera variant. There are rumors of a possible all-electric Cayenne, which could be developed alongside Audi’s electric e-tron SUV.
Competition:BMW X5, BMW X6, Range Rover Sport, Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class, Maserati Levante.
Estimated Arrival and Price: The third-generation Cayenne will be unveiled at one of this fall’s auto shows, most likely at the Frankfurt auto show in Porsche’s native Germany. Pricing will probably stay in the same ballpark as today’s model, although a few of versions may see slight increases. Expect deliveries to begin in the first half of next year.“”