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(Bloomberg) -- Porsche’s refreshed Cayenne sport utility vehicle features fat rear tires, sharper handling and brawnier engines as the German manufacturer draws on its trademark 911 sports car to counter a growing array of competitors for the big-selling model.

For a sleeker look, the third-generation Cayenne is 6.3 centimeters (2.5 inches) longer and nearly 1 centimeter lower than its predecessor. The rear wheels are now wider than the front ones and steer to assist with the SUV’s cornering like in the 911. Meanwhile, the base version, which starts at nearly 75,000 euros ($90,200) in Germany, boasts a 340-horsepower engine, 40 more than the previous model, the Volkswagen AG unit said Tuesday in a statement.

The enhancements reflect the increasing pressure on the Cayenne, Porsche’s biggest seller next to the smaller Macan SUV. When the model was first introduced in 2002, it marked the brand’s first expansion beyond low-slung sports cars, and its success helped spark the luxury SUV wave, with the likes of Jaguar, Maserati and Bentley following suit to challenge the upscale family car.

In addition to the Cayenne’s sports car thrills, the Stuttgart-based manufacturer is adding gadgetry like a 12.3-inch high-definition touchscreen, voice control, LED headlights and LTE wireless data connectivity. The dashboard interface can also be adjusted for the driver’s preferences. 

Diesel Doubts

The model is also as much as 65 kilograms (143 pounds) lighter to improve fuel economy and acceleration, helped by a lithium-ion polymer starter battery, which alone saves 10 kilograms in weight, Porsche said.

Thanks to sharing underpinnings with models from sister brands Audi and Bentley, the Cayenne helps boosts Porsche’s profits, which are vital for Volkswagen to stem an unprecedented financial hit from the diesel-cheating scandal that erupted two years ago. Porsche hasn’t been completely unscathed by the crisis, with the marque was forced to recall some 21,000 Cayennes with tainted diesel engines. The German Transport Ministry also imposed a sales stop for the affected models.

Porsche Chief Executive Officer Oliver Blume has in turn mused that the brand may stop offering diesel cars altogether. Demand for the technology in China and the U.S., Porsche’s two largest markets, is minuscule, and the manufacturer might again focus on gasoline engines, and its upcoming all-electric Mission E in 2019.

The revamped Porsche SUV will initially be available in two versions, with the higher end, 440-horsepower Cayenne S starting at nearly 92,000 euros.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christoph Rauwald in Frankfurt at crauwald@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Reiter at creiter2@bloomberg.net, Frank Connelly

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

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