What is it?
A car we want to hate. Only it’s a bit good and helps pay for more extreme 911s. The Cayenne might finally be growing into its awkward skin, but it’s always been something of an over-achiever. Sure, it can off-road, but its real ability lies on the road, where it drives with quite silly pace and ability for a 4x4. The Turbo S is a rampaging loon, with its 550bhp propelling it to 62mph in a faintly ridiculous 4.5 seconds.
For all its mighty power, the Turbo isn’t without some finesse. Porsche’s chassis people are pretty clever, making the Cayenne handle its bulk with athleticism that suggests they’ve made some sort of pact with a higher force. That ability permeates the entire range, with only the Hybrid not able to exhibit the rest of the Cayenne range’s balletic hippo ability thanks to a poorly resolved powertrain. The special order only 3.6-litre V6 is reasonably brisk, the V8-powered S with its 395bhp is a good all-round proposition and the V6 diesel is a great all-rounder, if lacking in power. The new 4.2 V8 fixes this - it’s almost as fast as the V8 petrol, but 7.1mpg more efficient.
Then there’s the GTS, combining a 420bhp V8 with a very focused suspension tune and the most outrageous bodykit. Some will hate you just for looking at you in it, but it’s almost worth the glares as it’s an absolute blast to drive. SUVs don’t handle? This disproves that: indeed, all Cayennes have the handling to retain its not-so-easily gained speed, with commendable steering feel and handling precision.
On the inside
Only since the Panamera came along can you say that Porsche has delivered interiors that live up to their sticker prices. The Cayenne benefits from its saloon relative’s layout, with a high central tunnel locating the gearshift – which on all but the petrol V6 is an eight-speed auto – as well as numerous buttons for the infotainment system. The sat nav’s a bit Apple iPod rather than iPad, the odd mix of touchsceen and push-button controls not the best out there. Space is good front and rear, and the boot’s generous enough, too.
More sporty than a Range Rover Sport – and many sports cars and sports saloons – the Cayenne is a masterclass in Porsche’s technical might in making the impossible possible. That’s not to say it’s peerless, as even refreshed it’s still got a face that only a mother could ever really love. Also, running costs on all but the Diesel will be horrendous, not least as it’s got a fuel tank that’ll take 100 litres – the expensive stuff if you’re buying the Turbo. If you are though, you know that, and can afford it, so enjoy.