Buying the previous-generation Porsche Cayenne was a sure-fire way of irritating your neighbours. Keeping up with the Jones’ became about distancing yourself from the eco-bashing hooligans next door. But now there’s an all-new version out, with reductions in weight, fuel consumption and CO2 figures.
Not that this should come as much of a surprise. The Cayenne is still heavily related to the Touareg, so the eco-focus of that car is also on this one – think of the Porsche as the VW’s ugly sister. As a result, the Cayenne now has five engines available including a diesel and a hybrid: the base 3.6-litre V6; a Cayenne S with 400bhp; the same 3.0-litre V6 diesel out of the Touareg; a hybrid also borrowed from VW; and lastly this range-topping Turbo with 500bhp and 516lb ft. Prices range from £41,404 to £81,589.
Argue whatever you want about the ethics of the last Cayenne, but you couldn’t disagree with how it drove. A pity, then, that this one has lost some of the Porsche sparkle. The chief culprit is the steering. It’s sharp and precise, but it lacks feel and is over-assisted.
As a result, the Cayenne doesn’t shrink around you like the last one did. What was miraculous about the Cayenne Mk1 was how Porsche created a near 2.5-tonne SUV that felt like a sports car... er, a very large sports car. But it did really feel like a Porsche. In the new one, that’s disappeared. You still get plenty of feedback from the chassis, which gets air suspension as standard on the Turbo. You can instantly tell this is a fluffier Cayenne because it now comes with a comfort setting – the last one only had a Sport button. For most driving, this is a good thing – it wafts better now – but some of the Porsche purity of purpose has disappeared.
With the full drive-hard setting active, the Cayenne still corners far better than any other SUV on the market. It’s flat, predictable, grippy. But in normal and comfort, handling prowess has been sacrificed for ride. Turn in on a fast sweeping bend, and the rear end rolls around a pivot point too much. The front turns in sharply, but the back is too soft and has too much movement.
Which is a shame because the Turbo has more than enough grunt to make fast driving all too easy. On an autobahn, the Cayenne sits at 140mph as effortlessly as if you were simply pottering to the shops. 0-62mph only takes 4.7 seconds.
So on the scale of SUV-sportiness, the Cayenne still lies ahead of everything else. But it feels more compromised, so this Cayenne is more like its VW sibling than the Cayenne Mk1. The Porsche DNA has been diluted.
On your drive for: £2,012pcm
Performance: 0-62mph in 4.7secs, max speed 172mph, 24.6mpg
Tech: 4806cc, V8, 500bhp, 516lb ft, 4WD, 2170kg, 270g/km CO2