Porsche Cayenne Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Car Review

Porsche Cayenne

£ 57,195 - £ 123,349
Published: 05 Jun 2019


What is it like to drive?

The Cayenne has always been the SUV for people who prefer cars to supertankers – especially those who had a Cayman or 911 before kids arrived – and Porsche has stuck to its guns with the new one. It’s not just good to drive for an SUV, it’s good to drive, full stop. For this we can thank mechanical voodoo, or at least a shedload of technology usually reserved for sports cars. You kind of need to spec it - spending up to £10k extra in the process - to stop the Cayenne succumbing to its size and heft.

For instance, the rear wheels can now help to steer, like on a 911, so you can dive into corners with an urgency you simply don’t expect from something this large. At first it’s alarming, as if the steering is too sensitive, but then you realise you can tackle sharp turns with a measured flick rather than a hopeful bung. Also, the rear tyres are wider than the front ones, which adds to the whole darty sensation.

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New, optional three-chamber air suspension means there’s a genuinely noticeable change between comfy modes and sporty ones, not just in terms of body control but in ride comfort on rough surfaces. A new 48V electrical system (shared with the Audi SQ7 and Bentley Bentayga) also helps, meaning the anti-roll bars are quicker-witted than the old hydraulic ones, adjusting to the road before you realise what’s going on. These are complex and expensive ways to disguise over two tonnes of car, and you’re always aware of the forces they’re fighting, but they really work. If you want your Cayenne to drive like a Porsche, it's money well spent. If you just want a fancy badge on the the front of your tow car, perhaps the case is less strong.

Then there’s the sheer speed of the thing. A Turbo with launch control engaged explodes from 0–62mph in 3.9secs (half a second quicker than its predecessor), and from there on the road is sucked beneath you like a crazy treadmill. Alright, so you’d sort of expect that from a 542bhp V8, but in an SUV it’s hilarious. To be honest, there’s never enough road to use it all for more than a few seconds, and some jumbo brakes are on hand to save you – optional ceramics in the Turbo, or optional new tungsten-carbide-coated steels in the others.

Speaking of the others, while the base V6 doesn't feel special enough for a Porsche badge, it's still competent enough, while the more powerful Cayenne S is probably the sweet spot in the range, with an engine that's keen to rev and makes a sweet noise doing so. Unless you need your performance SUV to behave like a thug, it's the one to go for.

Unless, of course, you're environmentally conscious (or tax thrifty) and would like a hybrid. Porsche says it's reworked the ethos of the electrically-assisted Cayenne, so this new version's less about economy and more about performance, which is why it sticks with a V6 instead of downsizing to a 4cyl. Total power is 456bhp and 516lb ft, a giant leap from the old hybrid's 410bhp and 435lb ft. It'll now reach 62mph in 5.0 seconds (ahead of the standard Cayenne S), reach 83mph on electric power alone, and though the 134kg battery pack blunts some agility, the Cayenne's uncannily comfortable ride is unaffected.

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Highlights from the range

the fastest

Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT 5dr Tiptronic S
  • 0-623.3s
  • CO2
  • BHP640
  • MPG
  • Price£ 143,910

the cheapest

Porsche Cayenne 5dr Tiptronic S
  • 0-626.2s
  • CO2210.0g/km
  • BHP340
  • MPG31.4
  • Price£ 57,195

the greenest

Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid 5dr Tiptronic S
  • 0-625s
  • CO274.0g/km
  • BHP462
  • MPG88.3
  • Price£ 68,358
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