Porsche Cayenne Cayenne S
Redesigned front end is more attractive
- V8 engine is powerful and relatively frugal
- PDCC system works superbly
- Interior is well finished
- Superb handling for a car of this size
- Looks are still a matter of personal taste
- Some switchgear is fiddly
- Image not on a par with other Porsches
- Running costs likely to be very high
Sitting proudly at the high end of the SUV sector is the Porsche Cayenne, a car designed to offer all the hallmarks of traditional Porsche vehicles, such has high performance, handling and desirability, but in the practical and comfortable SUV design. This second generation model has subtly revised looks and a host of detail improvements in order to keep pace with the stiff competition.
The Cayenne has been a relatively controversial car for Porsche since its introduction in 2003. Until this time the firm had concentrated solely on performance cars, and had not offered a vehicle outside the sports coupe or convertible market. However, the sales success of the Cayenne has proved that the decision was correct, and that demand is strong for a Porsche-badged car in this sector.
The original car was also controversial for its looks. The exterior design combines traditional styling cues, such as the teardrop headlights and wide front grilles, but incorporated onto a traditional SUV shape. The second generation model has softened these looks, with new headlamps incorporating projector beam units on the S and Turbo models. The front grilles have also been altered, and more substantial wheel arches help to balance the shape.
An important addition on the revised Cayenne is the introduction of direct injection on all three petrol engines. Using a high pressure fuel injection system, petrol is injected directly into the cylinder with much greater accuracy. The use of complex injection cycles depending on engine load improves efficiency, providing an increase in power output as well as improving fuel economy.
One further inclusion is the availability of Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control. It uses a complex system of hydraulics and electronics to allow adjustment of the anti-roll bars automatically. This allows improved ride quality over bumps whilst also eliminating body roll up to .065g. Available as an option, PDCC is said to enhance the Cayenne's sporting performance.
Our verdict on the Porsche Cayenne Cayenne S
The revised Cayenne improves over the original car in a number of areas, and its dual capability of sports car and practical SUV is even more impressive. While a question mark may still remain over its looks, it's undoubtedly a highly capable and desirable SUV.
Although the direct injection engines boost economy, the Cayenne will still be an expensive car to run. Purchase price, fuel economy, servicing and insurance will all be at the higher end of the scale, in line with its premium status.
Space and practicality
Thanks to its size, the Cayenne offers impressive space. Front seat passengers are very well accommodated, with generous head and legroom, while those in the rear also have space to spare. The boot is usefully sized, with enough room to accommodate the luggage of five occupants. The Cayenne offers useful storage space inside the cabin too.
Controls and display
The layout of the Cayenne is based on the Porsche 911's cabin. It has a central screen which holds much of the information, although the operation is not immediately clear. The main dials however, are very clear and attractive. Some of the minor switches are a little fiddly, though.
Despite the Cayenne's sporty nature it also delivers a good level of comfort. Road and wind noise are well suppressed, the seats are very good front and rear and the ride quality is also impressive, especially with the optional PDCC system fitted.
An immobiliser and alarm is fitted as standard in the Cayenne, due to its high desirability. In addition, UK-sourced cars are fitted with a tracking system as standard which is an impressive and welcome feature.
The high level of active safety in the Cayenne is impressive, with common features such as ESP and ABS, but the four-wheel drive and PDCC system are a big aid to safety. Passive safety is also of a high order, with multiple airbags and a stiff body structure.
The Cayenne performs a dual role with remarkable ease. Particularly with the PDCC system fitted, ride quality is impressive especially considering the large wheels and low profile tyres fitted. Most road imperfections are dealt with easily. Conversely, when driven with enthusiasm the Cayenne performs superbly, resisting body roll up to very high limits, and the steering responds very well. The engine is also a delight to use, offering easy torque and impressive power, all delivered with a superb noise.
Family car appeal
A family would find the Cayenne suitable for all their needs, offering generous accommodation and high levels of comfort. The added bonus is that the Cayenne is fun to drive when the whole family is not aboard.
First car appeal
The Cayenne is not an appropriate first car, due to its performance, costs and size, although it is not difficult to drive.
Quality and image
The quality throughout the Cayenne is generally of a good standard, with excellent build quality and good materials. There are a few fiddly switches on the dashboard, which feel a little inferior compared to the rest of the car but these are minor issues. The Cayenne's image does benefit from the halo effect of the Porsche brand, but its SUV status does mean it cannot demand the same respect as the firm's genuine sports cars.
Gaining access to the Cayenne is easy, due to the high ride height and large opening doors. Passengers can slide easily into the seats both front and rear. Additionally the height of the boot is just right for loading and unloading large of heavy items.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
A combined radio/CD changer is fitted as standard to the Cayenne, which provides impressive sound quality. Fingertip controls mounted on the steering wheel also allow easy adjustment on the move.
Colours and trim
The cabin of the Cayenne is well finished, with smart materials used throughout - Alcantara lines the roof on some models. A wide range of colours help to lift the darkness of the cabin also.
Parking the Cayenne is surprisingly easy considering its size, but the excellent visibility and parking sensors allow it to be squeezed into spaces without too much trouble.
Full size spare fitted beneath the boot floor.
Petrol engine options: 3.6-litre (290bhp), 4.8-litre (385bhp and 500bhp turbocharged). Six-speed manual and six-speed automatic available on all models. Trim levels are base, S and Turbo determined by engine output.
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