Porsche Cayenne review
The Porsche Cayenne offers powerful engines, keen handling and spacious, luxurious cabin. It’s five-seat only, though, you can’t have a diesel engine and Android Auto doesn’t feature
What's not so good
Find out more about the Porsche Cayenne
The Porsche Cayenne is that very rarest of things – it’s a large, luxurious SUV that can put as big a smile on your face as many sports cars. It competes directly with other large premium SUVs such as the Range Rover Velar, Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Mercedes GLE.
Porsche is famous for its iconic 911 sports car and there’s more than a hint of it in the Cayenne’s design. In fact, it looks a bit like a raised-up 911 with sleek headlights, a flowing bonnet and fairly steeply raked windscreen. At the back there’s a small roof spoiler above wide rear haunches, accentuated by a rear light bar that runs the width of the car.
Inside the sporty theme continues. The driving position is low slung, the Cayenne’s steering wheel is suitably sporty and there’s a large centre console that divides the front passengers. Everything looks and feels superb quality too, including the dash materials, well-damped switches and metal steering wheel paddles and door handles.
There’s plenty of wow-factor when it comes to the Cayenne’s infotainment, too. A huge 12.3-inch widescreen touchscreen sits in the centre of the dashboard, and offers razor-sharp graphics and brilliant response times to touch. There are also a couple of screens behind the steering wheel either side of a large rev counter – another of the Cayenne’s sporting touches.
The Cayenne isn’t a one-trick pony, though: it’s also surprisingly spacious and practical. Not only will a couple of tall adults be supremely comfortable in the front, but another two will be able to stretch out behind. Better still, a third adult won’t be too uncomfy on a long journey sat in the rear middle seat. Behind that, the Cayenne’s boot is massive – bigger, in fact, than a Range Rover Sport’s. The only downside is that there’s no option for seven seats.
The Porsche Cayenne might anger Porsche purists, but it’s extremely well rounded. It’s quick, luxurious and surprisingly practical despite its sporting badge
You can have your Cayenne with a 2.9- or 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine, the 3.0 V6 paired with an electric motor, or with a 4.0-litre V8 petrol. You’ll notice there’s no diesel option, as Porsche has ditched diesel entirely. Most people will be happy with the smooth entry-level V6’s 340hp, but those looking for better fuel economy should investigate the plug-in hybrid model, which will travel up to 88mph and 25 miles on electricity alone, yet do 0-62mph in 4.7sec. Used correctly, it could be more economical than the old diesel model too.
For those who enjoy their driving, the V8 Turbo model is exceptionally quick, but the 640hp Turbo GT is even quicker, and can cover the 0-62mph dash in just 3.3 seconds.
All Cayennes handle more sharply than most other large SUVs. The Cayenne’s steering is quite heavy, but it feels very well connected for a large SUV, while the huge amount of grip and good body control means you can cover ground very swiftly. Indeed, the Turbo GT holds the Nürburgring lap record for SUVs with a time of 7 minutes and 38.9 seconds. If there’s a worst model in this respect, it’s the e-Hybrid, which has to lug 300kg of batteries around with it too.
All told, then, the Porsche Cayenne is a well-made, spacious, fast and fun to drive large luxurious SUV. There are better SUVs if you need to carry seven people or if diesel is a must, but few others will put as big a smile on your face to drive.
The Porsche Cayenne might be one of the sportiest SUVs on sale, but it’s also a seriously practical one. Unfortunately, its whopping boot misses out on a few handy features
The Porsche Cayenne’s cabin is more than roomy enough for you to get comfortable if you’re very tall. The front seats come with eight-way electric adjustment as standard to help you find your ideal driving position and you can even get them with 18 different means of adjustment – perfect for practising a few yoga positions on the move. Thankfully, you don’t have to pay extra for adjustable lumbar support to help reduce backache on long journeys – it’s standard across the range.
The back seats have a supportive shape and plenty of padding so your passengers won’t have anything to complain about, either. There’s ample head and leg room for six-foot-tall passengers to sit behind an equally tall driver too, and they can even recline their seats slightly if they fancy dozing off.
The Porsche Cayenne’s cabin is wide enough to carry three adults side-by-side and there’s enough space under the front seats for everyone’s feet – even in their lowest setting. The middle seat is a little higher and a smidge harder than the outer two, but not to the extent that your middle passenger will have anything to complain about.
The back doors don’t open particularly wide, but there’s still enough room to lift in a bulky child seat. The seat locks easily into place but you do have to remove a pair of Isofix anchor point covers first.
The Porsche Cayenne’s door bins are absolutely huge so you’ll have no trouble tucking a one-litre bottle into each of the front doors. There’s a decent amount of space under the front armrest for a few drinks cans and space for two large coffee cups in centre-console cup holders. You get a pair of extra cup holders in the folding rear armrest and there’s space for a couple of extra half-litre bottles in the rear door bins.
With all five seats in place, the Porsche Cayenne’s 770-litre boot is larger than the load bays you get in the Audi Q8 or Range Rover Sport. There’s no annoying lip by the boot opening and its square shape makes it dead easy to load bulky luggage.
There’s space for a few sets of golf clubs or a couple of large suitcases, but tall boxes won’t quite fit under the Cayenne’s sloping rear windscreen. There’s nowhere to store the load cover if you need to remove it to carry tall items, either, but you get an electric closing bootlid as standard.
If you need to carry very long luggage, you’ll find flipping the back seats down is more difficult than in the Audi Q8. Rather than a set of levers in the boot, you have to pull a handle beside each seat base – not ideal in a wet Ikea car park. With all three back seats folded away, the Cayenne’s boot is easily big enough to carry a bike with both its wheels attached and a big TV box fits sideways across the back seats.
There’s a smattering of tether points dotted around the Porsche Cayenne’s boot to help you tie down fragile luggage and there’s a handy elasticated net to stop smaller bags sliding around, too.
The Porsche Cayenne has a range of strong engines, all are comfortable to drive and most handle impeccably. We say most: the e-Hybrid has 300kg of batteries to haul around with it
Massive SUVs shouldn’t be able to go around corners like the Porsche Cayenne does. OK, so a Porsche 911 would beat it on a track, but the Cayenne would be closer than you’d think
Let’s first deal with the elephant in the room: there’s no diesel Porsche Cayenne. Right, now that’s done, let’s take you through the range.
It kicks off with a 340hp 3.0-litre petrol in the entry-level car, while the S model gets a smaller 2.9-litre V6 but with 440hp. These two V6s both offer all the power you’re likely to need, are brilliantly smooth and make a great noise when you accelerate hard. That said, they settle well at a cruise too.
The e-Hybrid plug-in hybrid model combines the entry-level V6 and an electric motor to offer 462hp. That’s more than even the sporty S version, and with its engine and motor working together it’s actually slightly quicker in a sprint too. Of course, it’ll travel purely on electricity in ePower mode at up to 88mph and 25 miles of range. Charged often and used correctly, the e-Hybrid will be more economical than the old diesel model.
For thrills, the Cayenne Turbo model is hard to beat. Its huge V8 petrol engine produces 550hp and 0-62mph is dispatched in just 4.1sec. Hard to beat indeed, but nevertheless beatable – by the Turbo GT model, which has 640hp and can do the 0-62mph dash in 3.3 seconds.
That said, although it’s the fastest Cayenne of the range, you’ll notice in reality the e-Hybrid isn’t too far behind it. Consider too that its big V8 is far thirstier, and we think you’ll have worked out which we think is the pick of the Cayenne range.
For maximum thrills, no other Cayenne beats the Turbo model. It’s huge V8 petrol engine produces 550hp and 0-62mph is dispatched in just 4.1sec. That said, although it’s the fastest Cayenne of the range, you’ll notice in reality the e-Hybrid isn’t too far behind it. Consider too that its big V8 is far more partial to fuel than the e-Hybrid, and we think you’ll have worked out which we think is the pick of the Cayenne range.
Most big SUVs have the comfortable, luxurious side of life down pat, but driving fun usually takes a bit of a back seat. That’s not the story with the Cayenne, however – it manages to tick all three of those boxes.
There are various suspension types to consider. Firstly, there’s the standard suspension which is firm but ultimately still comfy, and can be made better by optionally adding adaptive dampers with a softer ‘Comfort’ drive mode.
Then there’s adaptive air suspension, which serves up an impressively plush ride both in and out of town. To that you can then add Porsche’s Dynamic Chassis Control which will help conquer body roll in tight corners even more effectively. Still with us?
Essentially, you’ll be happy with the optional adaptive version of the Cayenne’s standard suspension, but if you can stretch to it, add the more expensive spongy air suspension for the plushest comfort when driving.
Adding to the sense of luxury is just how quiet the Cayenne is on the move. OK, so mash your right foot into the carpet and all Cayenne models take off like scalded rats, making wonderfully sporty noises as they go.
Switch them back to their most comfortable driving modes, though, and aside from a little road noise on the motorway, all is quiet and calm. Of course, the e-Hybrid is quietest when it’s whirring along on electricity alone in its ePower driving mode.
However, in order to do that the e-Hybrid needs batteries, and these batteries weigh some 300kg. With all that extra weight onboard, the e-Hybrid feels the least agile Cayenne of the range, while its regenerative brakes feel the least natural to use too.
That’s not to say it handles poorly, but you’ll notice how the V6 petrols, and particularly the V8 Turbo, feel more eager to change direction on a winding country road. All Cayennes at least have great steering that feels nicely connected for such a large SUV.
In town, adding four-wheel steering as an option helps the big Cayenne pivot more tightly and slip into parking spaces more easily, while Porsche’s InnoDrive safety package allows the Cayenne to accelerate, brake and steer to keep you in lane. It’ll even predict what the road will be like 3km ahead using sat-nav data and video cameras and adjust the car’s drive settings accordingly. Clever.
You won’t find any cheap plastics or scratchy trims in the Porsche Cayenne’s exquisite cabin. But, then again, you won’t find it with Android Auto smartphone mirroring, either…
*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.