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Long-term review

Porsche Cayenne S - long-term review

£88,100 base / as tested £113,484 / PCM £1,057
Published: 12 Mar 2024
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Is the new Porsche Cayenne a bit dull?

Did you see the ‘And I Need You More than Ever’ Porsche Meme that went viral a few weeks ago? For those that didn’t (or aren’t sucked into the addictive whirlpool of shorts and TikToks), it’s a clip from the 2010 movie Diary of a Wimpy Kid where several nerdy kids sing Bonnie Tyler’s iconic power ballad "Total Eclipse of the Heart” horrifically out of tune. As each one gets more and more out of tune, a Porsche model is captioned underneath them: ‘Cayenne’, ‘Macan’, ‘Taycan’. Then, out of nowhere, an angelic, pitch-perfect voice comes in to the caption ‘911’. It did millions of views. And I found it rather fitting, as I’ve not instantly warmed to the Cayenne in the same way I do a 911.

Porsche’s latest SUV just doesn’t feel instantly emotionally available. And even though it’s equally Germanic, the 911 somehow does. Don’t get me wrong, the Cayenne is far from a square; there’s a juicy 4.0-litre V8, more screens than a city banker’s desktop and that alluring red and black badge with STUTTGART stamped across the bonnet which should get you going. But so far, I’ve found the Cayenne hard to connect with (and I don’t mean the wireless CarPlay, that’s a doodle). It’s just left me wanting a bit more. And I’m not the only one.

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I’ve been making use of the two, sculpted sporty back seats by filling the car up with people who have come away thinking the same. Frustratingly, a three-seat bench isn’t standard – so you have to deal with a cheap looking rubberised void between the seats. But even for a Coupe, there is plenty of space in the back for full-sized adults as for this generation Porsche has lowered the back seats by 30mm, even though the roof has only dropped 20mm. And passengers are initially impressed by the interior; there’s a vast panoramic glass roof (which for £11k can be switched to sculptured carbon if you're worried about a drastically raised centre of gravity) and the optional third passenger screen intrigues everyone. But then they go quiet, finding that things are ultimately a bit dark and dull.

And I agree. The cabin is put together wonderfully (apart from the haptic panel for heated seats and climate which depresses with a worrying cheapness) but it lacks clever coloured down lighting like modern BMWs, Mercs and Audis to add a bit of visual vitality and glamour. Instead, you’re left in the dark with a wall of black and meh. Which, when you tell people the car is £115k, shocks them.

It's a similar story with the driving. When in ‘normal’ mode on the rotary driving mode dial, dynamically the car is very capable but too subdued day-to-day. The steering is heavy and numb at low speeds, the engine sounds great at idle but isn’t thrilling to use – just thirsty. And the optional air ride is fantastic over big, drastic topographical changes (it satisfyingly slices through big speed bumps) but is noisy and knocked around by small surface changes and sudden impacts (potholes, expansion joints etc). You feel it through the whole bodyshell, with the huge, heavy five-spoke wheels and low-profile tyres taking the brunt as the suspension fails to properly muffle the vibrations.

I have a feeling that our Cayenne is one of those cars where we’re going to need the full six months for it to show its true colours. Because, so far, Porsche’s SUV is playing hard to get. Which I wasn’t expecting. Maybe day-to-day dawdling and EU safety regulation (it is the most bingy and bongy Porsche I’ve ever been in) has snuffed out its personality. So longer, more exercised drives may be needed.

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