Porsche Cayenne review
The Porsche Cayenne may anger purists, but it's the most versatile Porsche you can buy
Launched in 2010 the second-generation Porsche Cayenne continues to use the same platform as the VW Touareg, and it also shares some of that car’s less powerful engine options. The Hybrid and new V8-powered S Diesel models are particular highlights of the Porsche Cayenne range, and although it isn’t the most talented of SUVs off-road, it does have a trick up its sleeve. On the road it is almost untouchable, and would give some genuine sports cars a real run for their money – especially in 500bhp Cayenne Turbo form, where it can complete the 0-60mph dash in only 4.7 seconds.
Our choice: Cayenne S Diesel
Compared to the first generation Cayenne, the current model is much more conventional looking, although the 911-style front end grafted on to an SUV body still splits opinion. Bulging bodywork and sharper detailing mean it’s one of the most visually interesting models in the class – certainly more so than the VW Touareg sister. But while rivals like the BMW X5 and Mercedes M-Class have the ability to blend into the background, the Cayenne is altogether too obvious. Like the rest of the Porsche range, the Cayenne benefits from a great interior that is impeccably well put together with beautifully made switches and a raised cockpit-style dashboard that is inspired by the Panamera saloon.
From the driver’s seat the Porsche Cayenne feels more like a sports car than an SUV – the low-slung driving position and high transmission tunnel are similar to that in the Panamera saloon. On the move the feeling continues, with impressive straight-line performance, even with the diesel, and lots of grip and composure through the bends. Chunky C-pillars do affect visibility, but the Cayenne’s agility is superior to the BMW X5 and Mercedes ML and it's easier to manoeuvre. Opt for the V8 Turbo and you’ll accelerate faster than many of the firm’s sports cars, while the Hybrid model can still crack the 0-60mph dash in just over six seconds – not bad for an eco-friendly model. All models come with a Tiptronic automatic gearbox that is smooth and responsive while the Turbo S and GTS models both have larger wheels and sportier exhausts for a more focussed driving experience. For us though the pick of the range is the Cayenne Diesel S - which uses an incredible sounding 4.2-litre V8 that is just as fast in-gear as the Turbo but much more economical than its petrol counter-part.
Like other Porsche models the Cayenne has never been tested by Euro NCAP, but all models are fitted with six airbags, Isofix child seat mountings, Porsche Active Stability Management (PASM) and parking sensors. So far there’s been no recalls for the Porsche Cayenne, and traditionally the Porsche brand has performed well both in the dealer and manufacturer standings of the annual Auto Express Driver Power survey.
Compared to the other models in the Porsche range, the Cayenne is by far the most practical, with five seats, four-wheel drive and a 580-litre boot that extends to 1,780 litres with the rear bench folded. In fact those figures catapult the Porsche Cayenne near the top of its class for boot space, although it doesn’t have a seven-seat option like the BMW X5. It’s not as roomy in the cabin though, the high transmission tunnel making it a much more intimate space than inside its rivals. Admittedly the rear seats slide back and forth, altering the amount of room available for rear passengers and luggage, and the boot space is well trimmed, as you’d expect from any Porsche.
Economy and efficiency varies greatly depending on what model you choose, and top of the tree is the V6 diesel, which can return 39.2mpg. At the other end of the scale is the V8 Turbo, which manages 24.6mpg but chucks out 270g/km of CO2 – 81g/km more than Porsche Cayenne Diesel. Compared to the BMW X5, and the VW Touareg especially, the Porsche Cayenne is more expensive, but it generally feels more special than any of its rivals. Like the rest of the Porsche range there are many options and personalisation choices, but these are usually expensive and can quickly send the cost of the Cayenne spiralling out of control.