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Read the COTY 101.
Any keen student of the COTY form guide and back catalogue will know that Australia’s longest-running car award hasn’t exactly been a rich hunting ground for premium German manufacturers. Mercedes-Benz has managed to hoist the trophy just three times in 56 years, while Audi, BMW – and yes, Porsche – are yet to land a single victory between them.
This year would see the celebrated Stuttgart marque roll up with what seemed like a solid shot – this all-new, third-gen Cayenne; a five-seat SUV delivering major tech advancements, useful weight saving thanks in part to its MLB-Evo platform (shared with the Audi Q7, VW Touareg, and Lamborghini Urus, among others) and plenty of sophistication and efficiency in the powertrain department.
Those latter virtues were best exemplified by the sole example we had on test at COTY – the E-Hybrid. This model, with its turbo-petrol V6 and plug-fed 100kW motor, would need to carry the other three absent variants (two turbo-petrol V6s and one turbo-petrol V8) on its shoulders if the model was to make it out of the proving ground.
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No question it came out punching. The judges were in broad agreement that this Cayenne finally delivered what was inherently promised by Porsche from the outset, in terms of dynamics and involvement. When hammered around the durability circuit, it displayed the sort of body control and composure that would have left rivals from Range Rover and even Mercedes-AMG looking like boats in a heavy swell.
Further, it was also agreed that this model was a real Stuttgart army knife of SUVs in terms of functionality: around 50km of electric-only commuting range, room for a family of five and luggage for road trips, acceptable off-road aptitude, and, crucially, the ability to extract a “yee-hah!” from its driver via those Porsche traits. “The best EPAS in an SUV,” said Enright. Even Carey struggled to dislike it. “If all SUVs handled like this, the world would be a better place,” he noted cheerily.
The E-Hybrid’s 0-100km/h figure of 5.0 seconds makes it second only to the range-topping Turbo in sprinting ability, despite the fact it’s the second-most ‘affordable’ in the line-up (at $135,600, it’s around $20K more expensive than the entry-level model.) Sure, $32K worth of options fitted to the test car attempted to derail the value equation, but it was unanimous that the level of standard equipment and the quality of the interior made the base figure seem reasonable in the context of this segment. The clarity of the instruments, resolution of the screens, useability of the technology and general cabin lushness all contributed to the consensus that this thing felt properly premium, and worth the coin.
But COTY is awarded to a range, not an individual model, and this is where the Cayenne’s quest began to falter. Not that there’s a dud among the four; simply that the value equation weakens as the $239,000 Turbo starts to flex its (admittedly damn impressive) muscle.