In China, Porsche is not known as a maker of high-end sports cars. Instead, it is the Cayenne crossover SUV that has buyers from Beijing to Guangzhou sitting on year-long waiting lists just for a chance to bring the most basic model home at a price double that of the American-market version. Size, comfort, opulence and the appeal of a German luxury badge are its primary selling points.
The Porsche Cayenne is one of the most appealing midsize luxury crossovers thanks to its sophisticated engineering, impeccable construction, immense features list and surprisingly useful cabin. True, it doesn’t boast a third-row seat or the massive cargo capacity of larger crossovers, but its sliding, reclining and folding rear seat adds a degree of versatility that other luxury SUVs lack. With the new 2013 Cayenne Diesel model and the carry-over Cayenne S Hybrid, good fuel economy also becomes a strong selling point.
Yet this is the United States, and a Porsche needs to live up to those decades of high-performance expectations. And despite the lamentations of dedicated automotive purists, the Cayenne earns its Porsche crest by being one of the most rewarding and involving SUVs to drive on the highway. Handling is exceptional, and it only gets better as you select certain high-tech chassis-enhancing options or go whole-hog with the new sport-tuned 2013 Cayenne GTS. And although a basic V6 Cayenne might be worth waiting for in China, it’s the 29-mpg Cayenne Diesel, 400-horsepower Cayenne S and 500-hp Cayenne Turbo that draw attention on this side of the Pacific. Indeed, the Turbo is quicker than many sports cars.