The Porsche Cayenne is a luxury SUV offering the practicality of a five-door hatchback with the performance and handling of a top sports car. So, great for families who want a little luxury when out on a picnic. With a classy cabin full of the latest technology and a strong engine line-up that includes a more economical hybrid and a supercar-matching turbo, this is an impressive car whatever your needs.
The first Cayenne has continued being a popular premium choice since 2003, with major revisions in 2010 and 2018. Early models featured more brutal style changes that divided opinion. Those distinctive lines have been gradually softened over the years. The latest models feature car-like aerodynamic curves and a cuter front end. Since 2020, there’s even a svelte Coupe version.
All versions of this big Porsche SUV have five doors and a rear tailgate and nose that has some family resemblance to the German brand’s famous sports cars. The sporty shape means the Cayenne never seems as big as it actually is. The car’s lines have always been more dynamic than many rival big SUVs, correctly implying this car offers more driving abilities on the road than off.
The first Cayenne has continued being a popular premium choice since 2003.
What’s it like to drive?
Buyers pay a premium over other SUVs because of the Cayenne’s on-road driving experience. Porsche has transferred many of the features of its sports cars to this big five-door hatchback. Drivers will enjoy rapid acceleration and high top speeds. The Turbo model is actually capable of supercar performance.
In all versions, the controls are responsive and precise, the cornering composed and agile. There’s little of the wallowing suspension or disconcerting body roll of many high SUVs during cornering.
All models feature a full-time four-wheel drive system and almost all of them an eight-speed automatic gearbox. A driving mode selector allows for a switch between softer cruising and more enthusiastic driving. The sophisticated optional air suspension also makes the ride more comfortable for passengers, whatever the terrain.
The controls are responsive and precise, the cornering composed and agile.
Get behind the wheel and you’ll find yourself sitting high up in sports-style seats in a cabin trimmed with high-quality materials and equipped with the latest gadgets and luxuries. Most Cayenne cabins are swathed with beautifully fitted plush premium leather – you’ll want the kids to take their shoes off before getting in. The steering wheel is predictably small and chunky to inspire enthusiastic drivers.
The largest Porsche SUV is always a full five-door, five-seater and there are no 7-seat versions. Up to five people can fit very comfortably, with good head- and leg-room, front and back. There’s a little less headroom in the backseat of the new Coupe, of course.
The ingenious sliding and reclining rear seats add to the versatility. High-spec versions get front seats that electrically adjust in 18 different directions. This means drivers of any shape or size will be able to find the perfect driving position.
Most models have a large and responsive 12.3-inch touchscreen at the centre of the dashboard to control the car’s infotainment on the move and the graphics are clear and it’s easy to use.
If the dark leather is too much for you, look for a Cayenne with the optional full-length sunroof to lighten up the cabin. Music lovers can also opt for an upgraded stereo that provides a 21-speaker surround sound system. The impressive standard 150-watt, ten-speaker fitment is good enough for most users though.
This practical Porsche is full of surprises - from its massive towing abilities to all the hidden storage cubbyholes around the cabin.
The boot is big and square and simply huge if you fold the split-able rear seats. More recent versions come with a very handy powered tailgate and all have a wide easy opening for loading and unloading. Because of extra battery space, the hybrids do have smaller boots.
There’s lots of safety kit built in - lane-keeping assistance, automatic emergency braking and a sophisticated active cruise control. There is a very long options list for new buyers, so scan any used cars carefully to compare what’s been fitted. Look out for extras like the optional reversing camera, which can be very handy for parking a big SUV. You wouldn’t want to scratch that perfect exterior.
Running costs and reliability
There’s no disguising the high running costs that come with this luxury SUV. Servicing, tax and insurance will be among the most expensive. The latest servicing requirement is only every two-years or 20,000 miles.
Fuel costs vary between the models. The hybrid offers the best figures - up to 88mpg is claimed. Diesels are more in the region of 35-42mpg, while petrol models will return less than 30 per gallon.
Porsche’s reliability reputation is not the best. The Cayenne seems very well built however, particularly the newer models. Most owners seem to have trouble-free experiences but a few don’t and have suffered big bills and inconvenience.
What we love
The Cayenne is a full-size SUV with the driving characteristics of a Porsche sports car. It features a prestigious badge, solid German engineering and an up-market luxury feel throughout. This big Porsche also serves as practical five-door hatchback, with good levels of equipment and technology in all models. There are more economical hybrid versions and a supercar Turbo model too.
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The Porsche SUV is extremely versatile: it can behave like a sports machine one day, and a spacious family hatchback the next. Or you can use it to carry big loads across difficult surfaces. The Cayenne is always luxurious and comfortable for passengers, and can offer a thrilling experience for drivers.
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