An all-you-can-eat buffet of tech; the best driver’s SUV by far.
Looks like the old version; the tech will cost you.
What is it?
The grandchild of the original Cayenne, which famously transformed Porsche’s fortunes when it elbowed into showrooms in 2002.
It’s taken some people many of the years since to get used to the idea of a Porsche SUV, but like it or not, after 700,000+ sales it’s still going strong (that number would be higher if it hadn’t spawned the Macan). This all-new, third-generation car is the fastest and lightest of the lot, which says something about the amount of engineering effort they’ve heaped into it.
If only they’d tried so hard with the styling. You’d have to own a substantial, Porsche-branded anorak to spot the differences, but they are there. It’s longer, lower and broader than before. It has a wider gob, muscle-fit bodywork and a full-width LED lightbar between the rear lights, which also houses 3D-effect Porsche lettering. The updates are smart enough, but if you didn’t think the last one was a looker, there’s not much to win you over here, though the new rear lights are particularly smoothly integrated.
Engines are down on size but up on power. You have four choices for now, all petrols, starting with a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 with 335bhp, followed by a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 with 434bhp and heading to the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 with 542bhp, otherwise known as the Turbo. There's also a 456bhp V6 hybrid with nous from the 918 Spyder hypercar in its mode strategy. Porsche's full-strength Turbo S E-Hybrid powertrain - all 671bhp of it - will likely follow in due course.
All come with an eight-speed auto – Tiptronic rather than double-clutch PDK, because it's handier for towing horseboxes and speedboats, which is the sort of thing that Cayenne buyers like to do – and the available tech list is massively impressive and dizzyingly expensive. But what else would you epxect from a car that can stop you kerbing it, park itself, and drive itself both on and off-road?
Oh, and now there's a slightly svelter Cayenne Coupe variant. If you're still one of those people who's not yet fully accepted the idea of a Porsche SUV, it really won't be the car to sway you.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
The Cayenne remains the king of driver-friendly SUVs. The new chassis tech and reduced weight make it feel more like a performance saloon, to the extent you question why you wouldn’t just buy a performance saloon – or indeed a performance estate. But when you remember it’s also happy to drive across streams and through quarries and over fields on a pheasant shoot, it starts to make more sense.
The Turbo provides hours of laugh-out-loud fun, so long as you have the nerve to use it as intended, but we suspect the V6 S with a few well-chosen options is the better compromise. The arrival of a hybrid will help the social case for owning one, but if image isn’t a problem then fill your boots – this is a very complete machine.