raising the stakes
Overlooking the Strait of Hormuz and separated by the UAE, the Musandam Governorate is of great geographical and trade importance for the Sultanate of Oman. It’s also known as the ‘Norway of the Middle East’ due to its rugged coastline and mountainous terrain that recall the fjord-like rocks and cliffs of Scandinavia.
And by coincidence, Porsche has decided to put one of its most crucial models to test in this quaint part of the Gulf nation – the all-new Cayenne (slated to be launched locally this year). Originally introduced back in 2003, the Cayenne has been a massive success for the marque.
Our drive started off at the seaside town of Fujairah in the UAE before crossing into Oman. The route consisted of a mix of straight boulevards through the border town of Dibba, B-roads passing the Sawt settlement and an off-road trail before we arrived at the breathtaking Six Senses Zighy Bay.
Two variants offered during the drive were the Cayenne and Cayenne S, the latter boasting a meatier 434bhp and 550Nm power output. With twin-turbocharging, the S variant also betters the single-turbo 3.0-litre mill found in the non-S version, even with its slightly smaller 2.9-litre engine.
While it seems rather unchanged in profile at first glance, you will uncover a series of new design touches upon closer inspection. It adopts a crouched front-end echoing the Macan, giving it a more pronounced shoulder line, steeply raked C-pillars, and a lower roof to radiate a sportier feel compared with its traditional-looking predecessors.
Adorning the rear is a pair of new, slender-shaped tail lamps connected to a strip displaying the brand’s name. In the Cayenne’s latest design iteration, both the front and rear light clusters now include the trademark four-point LED treatment. Inside, the appealing Porsche Advanced Cockpit oozes a crisp and sporting atmosphere, with a 918-like steering wheel and piano black trims.
On the road, comfort levels make every journey an effortless affair with better insulation and myriad seating adjustments to suit your fancy. Crossing the border and passing Dibba, the tarmac soon transformed to washboard gravel, a surface notoriously known to shorten the suspension life of any vehicle. However, the Cayenne succeeded in regulating excessive jolts from spreading into the cabin. This is a feat worth pointing out as the Cayenne, in nature, isn’t known fondly as an off-roader.
On the new Cayenne, one finds a platform loaded with the latest tech featuring five new driving modes: Normal, Mud, Gravel, Sand, and Rock. Using this feature, the Cayenne performed exceptionally well over stone-littered paths, and even on the hilly route towards Six Senses with excellent road-holding grip, admirable traction and poise.
Swapping to the Cayenne S on the journey back, I found the extra power hike makes all the difference in performance. The stronger low to mid-range pulling power ensures a quicker standstill start. With Sport mode selected, you get a sharper steering and throttle response, with the Cayenne S powering through the remaining stretch of B-road with sublime precision.
The all-new Cayenne is a significant leap ahead. It still leads the pack when it comes to driving dynamics, but gains more daylight between the chasing pack now that it is paired to a beautiful sheet metal, well-appointed interior and new tech. Yes, it isn’t a 911 in appeal, but you’d be better off with a Cayenne when the tarmac ends.