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Porsche Cayenne


Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class

Summary

Porsche Cayenne

Since the Porsche Cayenne turned the automotive world upside down in the early noughties, it has continued to evolve and has grown to become one of the brand's biggest sellers.

One size up from the mid-size Macan, it's problematic for hardcore Porsche-philes, but there's no doubting this five-seat SUV's success, or the fact that it helps keep the famous German sports car maker well and truly in the black.

And this is the new, third-generation version, with an all-new chassis, fresh engines, and a bunch of dynamic, safety and multimedia tech enhancements.

Safety rating
Engine Type4.1L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency8L/100km
Seating5 seats

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class

Buuuuuuuur, parp, buuuuuuuuuuuur, parp. Anyone who knows anything about cars immediately recognises the sound of a 45-engined A-class derivative. It's the sound you hear in a tunnel as old mate blasts past with a giant carbon-fibre wing atop his hatchback. It's the sound you hear at 3:00am on a summer morning (if your suburb has no speed bumps, of course).

In short, that sound means big power from a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, a seven-speed transmission, and a bunch of Germans who clearly had a sense of humour in charge of tuning the exhaust note.

Sure, the GLA compact SUV is probably a slightly unexpected source of all that noise. But then, Merc's Ingolstadt rivals stuffed Audi's stupendous five-cylinder engine into a Q3 to make the hugely improbable RSQ3, so why not do the same with their skirts-lifted A-Class?

To be honest, my expectations for this car were low. So do I owe Mercedes a grovelling apology? Or can I still claim the moral high ground after a week of GLA 45 "ownership"?

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Porsche Cayenne7.5/10

The Cayenne may be the Porsche of SUVs, but you can't have family car size and practicality without a few concessions.

It's fast, beautifully built, and engineered with a special eye for detail, and the well specced Cayenne S is the pick of the bunch for performance and value.

But it's worth remembering the SUV bit. This Porsche is more everyday enjoyment than track day excitement.

Is the Cayenne your kind of premium family truckster? Tell us in the comments below.


Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class7.1/10

My wonderful wife, who is not really into this kind of car, admitted to me in a quiet voice that she really liked the GLA45 as long as it was in Sport + mode. And I have to agree. While I'm very fond of the ridiculous Audi RSQ3 (that turbo five-cylinder sounds amazing), I think I'd stump up the extra for the GLA.

Importantly, it can be comfortable, it can be quiet and it's a better fit for most humans than the A or CLA. It is getting on a bit and could do with a further clean-out of the poor ergonomics, but in what is likely its final year on sale, it's still a belter.

Has Peter finally lost it? Can the GLA45 be the best of the A-side 45 trio? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Design

Porsche Cayenne

The design is new yet familiar. Longer (+63mm), wider (+44mm), lower to the ground, and lower overall (-9mm), yet the wheelbase is unchanged at just under 2.9m.

All models feature LED headlights, and the Cayenne and Cayenne S are identified by their silver grille slats, with the Turbo featuring matt and high-gloss black surfaces plus larger air intakes at the front.

Car-spotters will also notice narrower side windows with a sharper decline at rear (Porsche calls it the Flyline) and the C-pillars tilting forward for a racier look.

A full width horizontal light strip across the tail sits under a clear covering above a three-dimensional version of the Porsche logo.

And wheels now range in size from 19-inch on the Cayenne, 20-inch on the Cayenne S, to 21s on the Turbo, plus optional 22s, presumably for those who drive on billiard table smooth freeways at all times.

And the Cayenne now features staggered or mixed tyres for the first time, that is fatter rubber on the back than the front.

Inside, the biggest change is the adoption of the Panamera's 'Advanced Cockpit', with the central tachometer in the iconic five-gauge instrument cluster flanked by twin 7.0-inch screens to create a blended analogue/digital version of the classic Porsche five dial layout.

Plus, there's the sleek 12.3-inch screen in the centre running everything from nav and vehicle settings to audio control and phone calls, through touch and voice.

Again, it's a direct lift from the Panamera, and the screen layout can be customised to personal preference, with Apple CarPlay standard (but no Android Auto).


Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class7/10

The GLA45 isn't a looker, but then, none of the GLAs are. There's a certain blobbiness to it. A bit of Teletubby mixed with...um, another Teletubby. It's not ugly, it's just not particularly attractive. The 20-inch wheels do much to lift the appearance and negate the effect of the raised ride height compared to the A45/CLA45.

The body kit stops just short of lairy, which is heartening. So if you want to stand out, venture out into the aftermarket world.

Inside was a mild surprise. The last time I drove a CLA 45 I used the word "gaudy". While the GLA isn't amazingly better, the texture of the Alcantara replacing the brushed metal-look plastic, or the carbon of the option pack, was much more pleasant. The brightwork in the cabin is still a bit odd looking, and it's still overcooked with its red detailing, but it is an otherwise beautifully built and well-detailed interior.

Practicality

Porsche Cayenne

Practicality highlights are more storage around the cabin, and a slide and recline adjustable rear seat.

Up front, the glove box is cooled, there are storage compartments under both seats, plus two cupholders, decent bottle holders in the doors, a 12-volt outlet (under the glove box), as well as two USB charge and connectivity ports in a generous console storage box.

Jump in the back and you'll find door bins with space for bottles, map pockets on the front seat backrests, a pair of cupholders in the fold-down centre armrest, plus two USB charge ports and a 12-volt socket in the centre console.

The rear seat's tilt and slide party trick means there's plenty of leg and headroom in the rearmost, fully reclined position. But tweak a lever on the side and a pull handle under the cushion and you can move forward (in stages) to liberate as much as 100 litres of extra cargo space over the outgoing model, while maintaining seating for five (three without legs in the extreme forward position).

Porsche's official description of the rear bench offering “two comfortable seats outside left and right and one centre seat” accurately sums up the relatively squeezy plight of the centre rear passenger.

Cargo capacity is 770 litres with the 40/20/40 rear seat upright, and a handy 1710 with it folded forward. There are four tie-down anchor points, plus a netted storage area on the passenger side, two lights and yet another 12-volt power point.

An auto tailgate is standard on all models, and a 20-inch collapsible spare (with inflator kit) sits under the rear floor.

If towing is your thing the Cayenne's weight ceiling is 3.5-tonne for a braked trailer, and 750kg unbraked. Porsche's 'Trailer Stability Management' system is standard.


Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class7/10

The front seats are utterly brilliant and feel as good as they look. On first acquaintance they may feel under-padded, but once you've adjusted them to your liking, you never want to leave. The AMG cars also feature one vast improvement over a normal GLA - the ergonomic disaster of a column-mounted shifter is removed, with a console-mounted shifter added where a small cubby once lived. It's so much better, although the Park button is oddly difficult to press.

When luxuriating in those snug front seats, you'll have access to two cupholders and door-mounted bottle holders, as well as a console bin (where the USB ports are) and a tray under the climate controls. Rear seat passengers will find legroom tight but headroom good, even with the huge sunroof.

The GLA's boot holds an entirely reasonable 421 litres, rising to 1235 when you drop both rear seats.

Price and features

Porsche Cayenne

There are three models offered initially, starting with the Cayenne, powered by a 3.0-litre single turbo-petrol V6 for $116,300 before on-road costs. Then the 2.9-litre V6 Cayenne S adds a second turbo and around $40k to the price tag, coming in at $155,100.

The powerhouse Turbo tops the line-up with a 4.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V8 under the bonnet, and cost of entry sitting at $239,400.

Not a diesel in sight (for Australia) for the time being, with an E-Hybrid variant due here closer to the end of this year.

As you'd expect in this part of the market the standard equipment list is solid, with the Cayenne featuring partial leather trim, cruise control, LED headlights, daytime running lights and tail-lights, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone climate control, privacy glass, front seats with 14-way electric adjustment and memory settings, remote central locking with 'Keyless Go', the twin digital instrument displays, multi-function sports steering wheel (with gearshift paddles), auto tailgate, 'Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM - with adaptive dampers), 19-inch alloy wheels, and 'Porsche Communication Management' (PCM) with the 12.3-inch screen controlling nav, phone and audio (10-speaker, 150 watt and digital radio).

As well as it's more powerful twin-turbo V6 engine, the Cayenne S adds 'Adaptive PASM' (with air suspension), 20-inch alloy rims, twin dual-tube tailpipes, dynamic (directional) LED headlights, a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, pedal faces in stainless steel, a 710-watt Bose 'Surround Sound System' with 14 speakers (including subwoofer), and metallic paint in any one of seven colours.

Then the Cayenne Turbo piles on the power and luxury with the twin-turbo V8 joined by 21-inch alloys (in dark titanium with highly polished surfaces) including wheel arch extensions in the exterior colour, 'Porsche Active Aero' (with adaptive roof spoiler), scrolling LED indicators, 'LED Matrix' headlights, 'smooth finish' leather upholstery, 18-way electronically-adjustable 'Adaptive Sports' front seats with unique trim and fatter side bolsters, front and rear seat heating (and ventilated/cooled front seats), exterior mirrors with kerb-view parking aid, a heated steering wheel, 'cross-brushed' aluminium interior highlights, and Alcantara roof lining (cloth on base and S).

If you're ready to stump up the big bucks, that's a heap of fruit to go with this car's comfort and performance potential.


Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class7/10

The GLA 45 lightens your wallet by no less than $89,211 - more than double the GLA 180 front-wheel drive, and about $5000 more than the bonkers (and ancient) RS Q3.

Packed into the GLA's kit bag are 20-inch alloy wheels, a 12-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, comprehensive safety gear, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors, electric and heated front seats, sat nav, auto LED headlights, auto wipers, leather trim (some real, some not), auto parking, powered and heated folding mirrors, a massive sunroof and dynamic dampers. There's no spare tyre, just a tyre-repair kit.

The multimedia system is Mercedes' COMAND unit and it is as user-unfriendly as ever. It does, however, power a very decent stereo, and also offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Thankfully our car was bereft of both the carbon-fibre package ($990) and the aerodynamics package ($1990).

Engine & trans

Porsche Cayenne

The new car's engines are lifted from the Panamera, and not only feature more power than the outgoing Cayenne, but Porsche claims improved fuel economy and lower emissions.

All feature an alloy block and heads, the Cayenne's 3.0-litre, single turbo V6 delivering 250kW from 5300-6400rpm, and 450Nm from just 1340rpm all the way to 5300rpm.

This 'base' engine features direct fuel-injection, 'VarioCam Plus' (variable cam control on the inlet and outlet side, and valve-lift adjustment on the inlet side), as well as the turbo located in the engine's vee to help minimise lag.

The Cayenne S's 2.9-litre V6 adds a second turbo to deliver 324kW from 5700-6600rpm, and 550Nm between 1800rpm and 5500rpm. It's shorter stroke design helps lift the rev ceiling by 300rpm (to 6800rpm).

Then the Cayenne Turbo adds two more cylinders to pump out no less than 404kW (542hp) across a narrow plateau from 5750-6000rpm, and 770Nm between 1960rpm and 4500rpm. The V8 also locates the turbos in the 'hot vee', but drops back to 'VarioCam' (variable cam control on the inlet and outlet side) without valve-lift adjustment on the inlet side.

All models now feature an eight-speed 'shift-by-wire' 'Tiptronic S' auto transmission, with drive going to all four wheels courtesy of Porsche's Active Traction Management system. The gear set in the Turbo (including the final drive) is slightly taller, although the seventh and eighth ratios are overdriven on all models to maximise fuel economy.

Claimed 0-100km/h times (with optional Sport Chrono package numbers in brackets) are: Cayenne – 6.2sec (5.9s), Cayenne S – 5.2sec (4.9s), Cayenne Turbo - 4.1sec (3.9s).

And if you have a very long driveway, leading up to your (presumably) very large house, you'll be pleased to know maximum velocity for the Cayenne is 245km/h, rising to 265km/h for the S, and a stonking 286km/h for the Turbo.


Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class8/10

AMG's fabled 2.0-litre turbo four lurks under that higher bonnet, still kicking out an improbable 280kW and 475Nm. Drive reaches the road via Merc's own seven-speed twin-clutch transmission and all four of its wheels.

All that power and grip translates to a 4.4-second dash to 100km/h for the slightly tubby (over 1600kg) GLA, but just between you and me, anything under five seconds feels scorchingly quick.

Fuel consumption

Porsche Cayenne

Claimed fuel economy for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle ranges from 9.2L/100 km for the Cayenne (emitting 209g/km of C02 in the process), to 9.4L/100 km for the Cayenne S (213g/km), and 11.9L/100 km for the Cayenne Turbo (272g/km).

All models feature auto start-stop (with coasting), your only fuel option is 98 RON premium unleaded, and you'll need 90 litres of it to fill the tank.


Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class7/10

The official combined-cycle figure suggests the GLA45 will consume 7.5L/100km. Obviously that figure is largely irrelevant, and not just for the usual reasons, but because you don't buy a GLA45 to potter about in. I got, uh, 12.5L/100km, so you can imagine how much I was enjoying it.

As you might expect, you'll need to feed it 98RON.

Driving

Porsche Cayenne

The new Cayenne sits on the VW Group MLB Evo platform, which also underpins the Audi Q7, Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus, and the soon-to-arrive new generation VW Touareg.

It uses a lot of aluminium and lightweight high-strength steel which, in concert with the alloy body panels, makes the car not only stiffer, but lighter by up to 65kg.

We've driven each model over a two-day launch program in The Barossa Valley in South Australia, and can confirm the base Cayenne is quick, the S is properly fast, and the Turbo is ballistic.

The transmission is a conventional eight-speed auto, rather than Porsche's PDK dual-clutch, and shifts are quick but smooth in normal mode, transitioning to a sharper, even more precise response in Sport or Sport Plus.

Porsche stands proudly on its reputation as a great sports car maker and says the Cayenne fits easily into that context. But let's face it, this is a two tonne SUV, and while it's dynamically outstanding, it's no 911.

All models feature multi-link suspension front and rear including active dampers, with varying levels of suspension sophistication as you walk up the range, to three chamber air suspension on the Turbo.

On quick twisting B-roads it's fast, in the case of the Turbo, bloody fast. It grips hard thanks to fat Z-rated rubber and active drive distribution makes sure it puts its power down perfectly. But no matter how sophisticated the suspension tech, it still feels large and relatively top heavy.

The electromechanical steering is light, and while it's accurate, no matter which mode you're in road feel is modest.

Not surprisingly, the ride firms up in tune with sportier drive modes, but in Comfort, even the Turbo on 21-inch rims, soaked up the irregularities of at times choppy rural roads with surprising ease.

Given the car's mass and performance potential braking is an understandable priority, with even the base model featuring big ventilated rotors all around with four piston calipers at the front and two at the back.

The S ups that to six piston front and four at the rear, while the Turbo debuts Porsche's 'Surface Coated Brake' a Tungsten-Carbide coating on the discs and special pads for longer life and less dust. Of course, the front calipers are 10-piston with four at the rear (and they're white just to prove brake dust isn't a problem).

In typical Aussie conditions these monster brakes are like cracking a walnut with a sledgehammer. Stopping power (on all models) is immense, and pedal feel is agreeably progressive.

We also headed off-road through rutted dirt and rocky climbs, and with five drive and chassis modes at its disposal the Cayenne ate it up.

The different off-highway modes ('Gravel', 'Mud' and 'Rock') will lock and unlock the centre and rear diff as required and the adjustable hill descent control made crawling down steep slopes a breeze. You can even option up an 'Offroad Package' bringing extra protection for vital components, as well as off-road specific info in the PCM and a compass display on the dash.

If you need to think about the dips and climbs on your country retreat, or maybe just the pitch of your driveway, the Cayenne and Cayenne S's approach and (with the Turbo in brackets) is 25.2degrees (23.3), ramp over is 18.7degrees (16.7), departure is 22.1degrees (20.4), ground clearance measures 210mm (190mm), and fording depth is 500mm (475mm).


Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class7/10

When the 45-badged cars first launched, they were something of a revelation. BMW's turbo six-cylinder fans sniffed at the 2.0-litre's staggering outputs and all-wheel-drive chassis, but this car really captured the imagination. The GLA45 might be slightly unexpected, but it's better in almost every way as a daily driver than the A or CLA.

For a start, its higher ride height seems to translate to a much better ride quality. Anything on 20-inch wheels should have an appalling ride, but the GLA45 manages to be firm yet comfortable. Put the other two in Race mode and you'll need to up your private health insurance extras to include osteo, physio and whatever "o"-ending specialist fixes your back.

The improved ride quality meant I was far happier to chuck this car around. While it doesn't have the same ultimate overall performance of the lower cars, it's far more comfortable whether you're on it or just driving around. The front seats are supportive and comfortable, and the steering is excellent.

As for the engine...well, it still farts like toddler during a moment of silence at a funeral, but you can't deny its technical brilliance and huge power outputs. I remember the CLA45's engine as being a bit highly strung. Perhaps I couldn't separate the overall high-strung nature of the car from the engine, but I felt the same engine in this car wasn't as jumpy.

The way it propels this car into triple figures is tremendous fun. It's not as charismatic as the Audi five-cylinder, perhaps, but that doesn't matter in the end - it's properly fast, attached to a better chassis and offers a cabin with a driving position fit for humans.

Safety

Porsche Cayenne

Active safety systems include the usual suspects like ABS, ESC, and traction control (ASR), with the addition of other features under the 'Porsche Stability Management' umbrella, including ABD (torque vectoring by braking), and MSR (prevents slip on the drive wheels produced under engine braking)
There's also AEB (although the Porsche system doesn't bring the car to a complete stop), 'Park Assist' (front and rear) including 'Surround View', 'Lane Keeping Assist', 'Lane Change Assist', and tyre pressure monitoring.

But if all else fails passive features include an active bonnet (activated by pedestrians, cyclists, etc detected by the front camera), driver and front passenger airbag, knee airbags for the driver and front passenger, front side airbags, rear side airbags and full-length curtain bags.

There are three top tether points across the back seat with ISOFIX anchors on the two outer positions. ANCAP hasn't assessed the third generation Cayenne so far, but its Euro NCAP affiliate awarded a left-hand drive, 3.0-litre diesel model a maximum five stars in 2017.


Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class7/10

The GLA comes with nine airbags (including driver's knee), blind-spot sensors, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, forward-collision warning and mitigation and driver-attention detection.

The GLA does not have its own ANCAP rating, but the A-Class on which it is so heavily-based scored five stars in 2013.

Ownership

Porsche Cayenne

The Cayenne is covered by Porsche's three year/unlimited km warranty, with paint covered for the same period, and a 12-year (unlimited km) anti-corrosion warranty also included.

Porsche Roadside Assist provides 24/7/365 coverage for the life of the warranty, and after the warranty runs out is renewed for 12 months every time the vehicle is serviced at an authorised Porsche dealer, and the main service interval is 12 months/15,000km.

No capped price servicing is available, with final costs determined at the dealer level (in line with variable labour costs by state/territory). Indicative scheduled costs for the first four years/60,000km line up as: 12 months/15,000km (annual) - $695, 24 months/30,000km (intermediate) - $695, 36 months/45,000km (annual) - $695, and 48 months/60,000km (major) - $1300, for a total of $3385.


Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class7/10

The Mercedes standard warranty is three years/unlimited kilometres with roadside assist to match. Service intervals are a very reasonable 12 months/20,000km.

The company also offers capped-price servicing - first service is $576 but the second and third are a whopping $1152 each. Three years will set you back $2880.