The Cayenne doesn’t play by normal rules. It is its own “thing.” It is desirable, capable, and stylish and, let’s face it, a Porsche. What does that mean in the end? Simple: You want one. Tens of thousands of people every year want and buy one.
For the first time in its history, Porsche surpassed the 200,000 sales mark, having achieved it in only 11 months. That’s right, Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG delivered some 209,894 cars worldwide up to the end of this past November. Of that number, the Cayenne counts for 68,029 units. Normally, a volume car is a more affordable example of what a carmaker has on offer. Not so with the Cayenne as it is mid-pack in a Porsche showroom. How is this possible?
Porsche somehow manages to combine wants and needs for any given segment, wraps it up in a stunning shell, gives it an ambiance and an aura you’ll never be able to live without, and then charge you for it. The combination is a winning one, for both the manufacturer and you, the happy owner.
The gifted one
The Cayenne is the highest expression of Porsche’s knowhow. No, it’s not as fast as a 911 Turbo, doesn’t handle as well as a Cayman GT4, isn’t as pretty as a Boxster Spyder; but hell, it’s a little bit of all these. The engineers at Stuttgart happen to be so skilled that they are able to combine elements from the line-up and blend all of them into one. And that one need not be a $180,000+ Cayenne Turbo S, no. It starts right at the bottom, even in a sub-$70,000 base version.
Our tester was a $72,570 V6 with a few choice options including the lovely 18” Cayenne S wheels, park assist, the useless sunroof, and the gorgeous Mahogany metallic paint. For the typical daily grind, the Porsche 3.6L V6 has got all the get-up-and-go one needs. With 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, the 2,040kg (4,488lbs) big ‘ute actually has plenty more heart than you think.
V6 is no slouch!
Even upon start-up, the V6 grunts with authority. As momentum builds, the 8-speed autobox dispenses the power to Porsche’s Active All-Wheel drive system. As though honed from one single piece of material, there’s never a moment when the entire powertrain isn’t working with the driver’s desires in mind.
Any kind of pressure on the throttle results in an engine-transmission stepping up to the plate, ready to play ball. Despite having three people aboard, loads of gear and heavy boxes, the Cayenne V6 still managed passing manoeuvres with certain ease. Slow-moving traffic on the 401 is notorious, but then again, this is a Porsche. This bottom-of-the-ladder Cayenne will still hit 100km/h in 7.6 seconds on its way to a top speed of 230 km/h. But wait, there’s more.
Fuel economy and performance?
Our road test had us cover in excess of 2,000 km with the aforementioned extra weight onboard. Seventy-five percent of that mileage was completed on the highway, granted; but care to guess our returned average fuel number? 11L/100km or roughly what a large sedan would do (with less interior space, likely 2WD, and far less panache).
The Cayenne’s drive is actually as comfortable as would be that of the sedan’s. The midsize luxury utility vehicle, a finalist in its category in our Auto123.com Awards, sticks to the road with confidence and is just as capable off-road, as well. Grabbing the lovely steering wheel puts the Cayenne’s precise and properly tuned steering in your hands. The large standard brakes give the impression they’ll never let you down thanks to good pedal feel and response.
Good looking, too
To stare at the sporty crossover is to simply nod your head in approval. Once more, even the most basic Cayenne is unmistakingly a Porsche. Regardless of the angle, there’s little difference to the untrained eye between this base truck and the aforementioned Turbo S. If that’s a problem for the guy that paid 2.5 times what you did for his Porsche, it’s a good thing for you.
The redesigned front fascia is sharp and flows impressively well up and around to the new fenders and headlights. The rear taillights and bumper have also been revised for a cleaner more modern look. Generally, the larger the wheels the better, but this Cayenne’s 18-inchers are all it needs. The winning-est part here is that sublime Mahogany metallic paint that can, depending on lighting, be black, eggplant or brown -- it’s well worth the $910 supplement.
Room for everything
The cabin is, through and through, all Porsche as well. Everything is laid out in the make’s unique way where it all falls into place after a few moments of familiarization.
The seats are incredibly supportive and comfortable and kept us alert and at ease for the duration of our trip.
The large trunk swallowed everything we threw at it with a little round of trunk-Tetris that we won, hands down. The Cayenne’s cavernous interior is a huge selling point. It may not the be largest in its segment, but its big enough so as to not make family or gear sacrifices -- imagine, having a Porsche and fitting everything in it to boot.
You’ll likely find someone that’s had a bad experience with a Cayenne 7-8 years ago, but reliability has improved. If anything, it’s on par with what you can expect from a BMW X5 or a Volvo XC90, but will be costlier to run than an Acura MDX. For my money, however, I’d rather a European product and would think about the Volvo for a little while…