Luxury SUVs bring their A-game when dollars aren’t in short supply and family-sized bragging rights are up for grabs
Luxury done differently
The 2018 Porsche Cayenne and 2018 Range Rover Sport are giving the rich and wannabe famous even more ways to stand out from the crowd. Elitism has never looked so good.
When Porsche launched an SUV, the world gasped. But this move away from tradition allowed Porsche enthusiasts to remain true to the Stuttgart moniker, even when family demands grew beyond the sports car envelope.
Combined, Porsche Australia’s SUVs (Cayenne and Macan) now outsell their passenger cars Down Under by a margin. And it’s easy to see the attraction, in its third generation, the 2018 Porsche Cayenne is even better.
Compare this to the 2018 Range Rover Sport, whose extensive credentials have never strayed far from the luxury land-yacht brief and you’re faced with two premium SUVs that bring significantly different DNA to the road.
The big question is, are you team Porsche or team Rangie?
Why are we comparing them?
When power and prestige matter, the Range Rover Sport and Porsche Cayenne S are always top of mind.
The all-petrol Cayenne line-up has received updates that see it shed around 65kg and gain power across the entire range. It’s also more expensive than the outgoing model, now starting at $116,300 for the 3.0-litre V6 and topping out with the twin-turbo V8 Cayenne Turbo from $239,400 plus on road costs.
We are testing the 324kW/550Nm 2.9-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 Cayenne S here.
And it’s pitched against the 225kW/700Nm 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel Range Rover Sport HSE — one of 15 familial variants, including diesel and petrol power starting from $95,100 through to $238,200 for the Range Rover Sport SVR+. That range-topping Sport is more racer than Rangie.
Striking looks, decent off-road geometry and multi-terrain drive modes suggest they’ve got all of the bases covered, town and country.
Who will they appeal to?
If you own a Range Rover Sport HSE or Porsche Cayenne S, chances are they’re not the only vehicles in your garage. Lucky you!
This isn’t your average five-seater SUV and yet we find ourselves hunting for the same mundane attributes we expect in, say, a Hyundai Tucson.
Second row accommodation is great; more comfortable and better equipped in the Rangie. Its armrest is next level. Indeed, even without the optioned back seat entertainment package and heated seats, passengers will feel more love in the Range Rover’s plush surroundings.
Boot capacities are on par, the Range Rover is dimensionally larger but the Cayenne is a little more flexible with its sliding second row.
They’ll both tow 3500kg and boast air suspension and multi-terrain drive modes. And while we stayed on the tarmac this time, experience says that we’d back the Range Rover’s abilities in an off-road showdown.
How much do they cost?
A lot: luxury cars with luxury car pricetags. The mid-spec 2018 Cayenne S will set you back $155,100, compared to the Range Rover Sport HSE which comes in at $134,700.
As tested and laden with options ($52K worth), the price of our Rangie jumps to an eye-watering $186,930! That includes nearly $15K for the Meridian Superior Sound system and another $16-large on carbon fibre details and designer lights gets you there quickly.
Our Porsche on test adds a relatively frugal $12K bringing it to $166,410. Extras such as the Cayenne’s tinted LED taillights ($1530) add to the stealth character, while the domestic plug socket on the Range Rover ($130) is mighty practical.
Either way, it’s easy to get lost in the hedonism of it all.
Neither of these super SUV stands out when warranty and service periods are considered. The 2018 Porsche Cayenne S has a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty and service intervals are recommended at 30,000km or every two years. The Range Rover Sport HSE comes with a three-year/100,000km warranty and visits to the service centre are condition dependent (ie: watch for warning lights).
What do they do well?
The Range Rover Sport HSE has road presence like few others cars, its dimensions in particular dominating this comparison. A heavy dose of torque (700Nm @1500rpm) gives the Rangie a sense of urgency that you may not expect from this two-tonne envelope. It has a top speed of 225km/h and shunts from 0-100km/h in 7.3sec.
It’s the big Brit’s opulent interior and magnificent attention to detail that really wins hearts however. Soft leather finishes at every touch point create a cushion-like oasis behind the wheel. It’s incredibly plush and you truly feel like king of the road.
The Porsche Cayenne S, on the other hand, defies logic with its take on the large SUV. It’s nimble, fun and truly engaging behind the wheel with a top speed of 265km/h and a 0-100 time of 5.2sec. Fitting numbers given the performance heritage from which it hails.
Notwithstanding its similar weight, the Cayenne feels sure-footed and far more flexible in its overall road handling. Its 20-inch alloys are matched to Bridgestone Duelers (front 275/45 ZR 20 and 305/40 at the rear) and provide a supple ride on all manner of road surfaces.
The Porsche turbo V6 petrol’s throttle response takes the cake, as you’d expect.
What could they do better?
The Cayenne S needs to dial up the drama inside. In isolation, it’s a great look – minimalist, clean design done well. But in this company, you feel like second best. The plastic to leather ratio belies its price tag and its offroad capabilities are somewhat undermined by an inflatable space saver tyre.
If only the Range Rover Sport could sprint and turn like the Cayenne. Instead, you’re constantly reminded of its size thanks to occasional pitching under brakes and moderate body roll through corners. Riding on optional 21-inch alloys wrapped in Continentals (275/45/R21), it also feels all the bumps.
Which wins, and why?
The truth is that there’s no real loser here, merely second best.
But when the brief is to be big, bold and brilliant, it’s the Range Rover Sport that fits the bill best. Considerable power and formidable torque bundled in complete luxury, the Range Rover Sport feels decadent.
Do the math as you will (it’s hardly a segment for penny pinching), but the overall road presence that the Range Rover Sport commands is priceless.
2018 Porsche Cayenne S pricing and specifications:
Price: $155,100 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 2.9-litre six-cylinder twin-turbo-petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Fuel: 9.4L/100km (ADR Combined)
CO2: 213g/km (ADR Combined)
Safety Rating: TBA
2018 Range Rover Sport SDV6 HSE pricing and specifications:
Price: $134,700 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo-diesel
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Fuel: 7.0L/100km (ADR Combined)
CO2: 185g/km (ADR Combined)
Safety Rating: TBA