Along with the Boxster, Cayman and more recently, the Macan, the Cayenne has lead the charge when it comes to the Porsche brand’s resurgence within the global automotive market. I travelled down to the Western Cape to drive the latest Cayenne range recently.
When it comes to the driving experience, the Cayenne has always been one of the most enjoyable cars within its segment to drive. However, when it comes to the styling of the big SUV, the brand came under criticism for the first generation model. This was remedied to an extent with the second generation, but the Cayenne was still not considered desirable.
This third generation model from the Stuttgart-based sports car manufacturer has certainly stepped-up its game in the looks department. While not a dramatic departure from the previous generation, the new model is certainly sharper and more compact-looking.
Up front there’s are sportier LED headlamps, more akin to the brand’s sportscar range, while the large front grille with bigger air intakes serves as reminder of its SUV pretensions. In side profile, the new Cayenne cuts an unmistakable silhouette while at the rear; it has an LED lightbar that spans across the rear section.
Inside is where the Cayenne is most notably different from the car that it replaces. There are certainly hints of its platform sharing with cars such as the Audi Q7, Volkswagen Touareg, Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus, particularly when viewing the 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which features fantastic resolution and a customisable display along with an array of smartphone-friendly connectivity options.
Items that are rather exclusive to the Cayenne include the instrument cluster, which houses two digital screens on either side of the still analogue rev counter while the centre console with its Panamera-like glossy finish and the Porsche steering wheel all contribute to a cabin that is now less cluttered, of a higher quality and is packed with technology.
The new platform has resulted in a weight saving of up to 65kg versus the old model while also allowing 100 litres more boot space, bringing the total to 770 litres. The rear passenger space has improved too, with ample head and legroom for those seated in the rear.
Engine and gearbox range
The engine line-up consists of four derivatives with an eight-speed Tiptronic S gearbox doing duty in all variants. The base model Cayenne is powered by a250kW/450Nm 3.0-litre V6 turbo petrol motor which will propel the car from 0-100km/h in 6.2 seconds (5.9 seconds with the Sport Chrono Package) and a top speed of 245 km/h.
The second model and very likely the sweet spot within the current range is the Cayenne S, which utilises a 2.9-litre V6 twin turbo petrol motor with 324kW/ 550Nm, allowing the car to reach the 100km/h mark in 100 km/h in just 5.2 seconds (4.9 seconds with Sport Chrono Package) and a top speed of 265 km/h.
For the more eco-conscious there’s the E-Hybrid model, which makes use of the same 3.0-litre V6 turbo petrol engine, but adds an electric motor to the equation for a combined output of 340kW/700Nm, a 0-100km/h time of five seconds and a claimed fuel consumption figure of 3.2-litres/100km.
The range-topping Cayenne Turbo features a 4.0-litre V8 twin turbo motor that delivers 404kW/770Nm, active aerodynamics such as the adaptive roof spoiler, wider rear tyres and high-performance tungsten-carbide-coated brakes. This allows this SUV to sprint from 0-100 km/h in 4.1 seconds (3.9 seconds with the Sport Chrono Package) and on top speed of 286 km/h.
Despite sharing a platform with several other vehicles, Porsche engineers have certainly done a good job of tuning the suspension set-up on this latest Cayenne to accommodate for more spirited driving while maintaining a good level of compliance and comfort.
The air suspension and optional rear-wheel steering assist in making the Cayenne feel agile while allowing the driver to select the suspension firmness, depending on the driving situation. Despite its heft and high centre of gravity, the Cayenne acquits itself rather well in dynamic driving scenarios with the Turbo model in particular offering a really exciting turn of speed.
Being four-wheel drive, having its engine up front and of course, being an SUV, stating that it’s 911-like in its driving experience is a stretch too far, but as far as SUVs go, this is one of the most dynamically capable of the current crop.
Our driving route was an all road affair, meaning that the regular road driving programme was all that was used; however, there are four other modes which include Mud, Gravel, Sand or Rocks, which accommodate for mild off-road driving conditions.
The latest Cayenne represents and improvement over the car that it replaces in all of the areas that count. It is faster, more efficient, more practical, easier to live with and importantly, it still represents one of the best driving experiences within its segment.
Pricing (with three-year Driveplan)
Cayenne - R1 142 000
Cayenne S - R1 296 000
Cayenne E-Hybrid - R1 690 000
Cayenne Turbo - R2 158 000