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3/4 Front Glamour 2004 Porsche Cayenne

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Introduction

Barely 10 years ago, the idea would have been dismissed as absurd. A Porsche sport-utility vehicle? What've you been smoking? Not that Porsche lacks experience with off-road vehicles. Its engineering wing has developed several all-wheel-drive military vehicles, and specially prepared Porsche racecars ruled the grueling Paris-Dakar raid through the North African desert in the 1980s. Yet compared to automotive giants like General Motors, Toyota or Daimler-Chrysler, Porsche is a cottage manufacturer, with a tiny fraction of the production volume. For 50 years the company carved its niche with quick, nimble, relatively small sports cars, cars built on values almost diametrically opposed to those represented by a big SUV. It speaks to our changing automotive tastes, if not the times, that Porsche felt the need to invest in an SUV and a new factory to build it. Ready or not, the most anticipated new Porsche in decades, the Cayenne, is here. The company's SUV is what many expected it would be: technically slick and remarkably fast, with on-road handling that belies its bulk. The Cayenne also delivers what most SUV buyers demand, including decent cargo space, more than enough capability for casual off-road use and impressive towing capacity. For style, pure performance and a balance of sport-utility virtues, the Porsche Cayenne is very tough to be beat. Like many Porsches, the Porsche of SUVs is also very expensive. With tax and license, a loaded Cayenne Turbo can crack the $100,000 barrier, and that alone will knock it off most shopping lists. But even the well heeled can be value conscious. Many who can afford a Cayenne will find much of the performance and all the satisfaction of use and ownership for half that $100,000 price. Cayenne will be truly appreciated by a relative handful of SUV buyers with exacting demands. We'll call them connoisseurs. In that respect, the Cayenne isn't much different than most Porsches before it.

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