Ten Point Test

Auto Trader Ten Point Test rating: 80%

If you’re looking for a sporty luxury SUV the Porsche Cayenne has got to be on your shortlist.

Named after a hot pepper this performance car comes in four flavours; Cayenne, Cayenne S, GTS and Turbo – or hot, hotter, very hot and hottest.

We test drove the standard model to give you the low-down on arguably Britain’s spiciest SUV dish.

1. Looks 7/10

The Porsche Cayenne has not won everyone’s hearts with its beefed-up performance stance. Porsche responded with new headlights, spoilers, mirrors and enlarged air scoops for the second generation model. It doesn’t match the elegant simplicity of the German manufacturer’s traditional sports cars and there are more attractive sporty SUVs. But if aggressive get-me-there-now looks are what you’re after the Porsche Cayenne has them in spades.

2. Looks inside 8/10

The interior pulls off luxury and sporty with a combination of dark roof lining, monochrome dash and Porsche-embossed leather interior, although a beige colour scheme is also available. The information display is bold, simple, stylish and functional while the three spoke steering wheel and two central grab holds indicate you’re in a car which means business off and on road. The dash is immediately identifiable as belonging in a Porsche, and the seats look and feel like quality products.

3. Practicality 8/10

There is 540 litres of boot space with all seats in place, which can be increased to a maximum 1,770 litres by tipping the rear seats – which fold flat to the floor. There’s plenty of space in the cabin for oddments, and space in the front is excellent, although the rear has less room than we would have liked. Electric seats with lumbar support help ensure a comfortable driving position, especially on longer journeys.

4. Ride and Handling 9/10

Many SUV manufacturers tell you the experience of driving their vehicle “car-like” – but this one actually is. The drive is sharper than any SUV we have driven and meets the level of expectation set by the big Porsche badge in the middle of the steering wheel. The trade-off comes with a ride which doesn’t feel like a traditional SUV, but it never becomes uncomfortable. Drivers can switch between standard and sports suspension at the push of a button. There are three further chassis settings: sports, normal and comfort for finer adjustment. So you can pick the ride and handling experience to suit your journey. But its difficult to forget the Cayenne’s enormous girth.

5. Performance 10/10

Now we’re talking. When Porsche facelifted the Cayenne in 2007, it increased engine performance while improving fuel consumption

The entry-level 3.6-litre V6 Cayenne we drove produces 290bhp, raising performance to produce headline figures of 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds and a top speed of 149mph. We found the glorious-sounding V6 to offer massive overtaking potential and almost hot hatch-rivalling acceleration.

The next model in the range, the sportier 4.8-litre V8-engined Cayenne S sees performance improve further, with a 0-62mph time of just 6.6 seconds and a top speed of 156mph. The GTS packs a modified version of the same engine, increasing power to 405bhp for a 157mph top speed.

Topping the range is the Cayenne Turbo, which offers genuine supercar pace from its 500bhp 4.8-litre V8 engine. 0-62mph takes just 5.1 seconds and top speed is a massive 171mph.

The Cayenne and the Cayenne S models come with a slick six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with a Tiptronic semi-automatic as an option. The semi-auto is standard on the Turbo model. The Tiptronic model we drove responded smoothly and promptly to a variety of situations via the gearstick or the steering wheel-mounted buttons.

6. Running Costs 5/10

Strong demand for the Porsche Cayenne means used prices remain solid. Porsche says its Direct Fuel Injection has improved fuel economy by between eight and 15 per cent. However, motoring still does not come cheap with this level of performance. The Cayenne returns an average of 21.9mpg with the Cayenne S and Cayenne Turbo both returning 19mpg and the Cayenne GTS 18.7mpg. CO2 emissions for the Cayenne are 310g/km and 358g/km for the Cayenne S and Cayenne Turbo which lands all three models firmly within the highest car tax band G – meaning an annual bill of £300, rising to £400 from April 2008. Car insurance of Group 20 will also add to the bill.

7. Reliability 8/10

There are no Reliability Index figures for the Porsche Cayenne. However, the car feels sturdy and built to the quality one would expect.

8. Safety 7/10

Each Porsche Cayenne comes with six airbags and a range of passive safety features to reduce the chances of an accident. At the centre of the safety system is Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) which eliminates body roll. Other safety kit includes a traction management system to supply grip where it is most needed on and off-road and a stability management system which works together with anti-lock brakes and brake assist. The Porsche Cayenne has not undergone EuroNCAP crash testing.

9. Equipment 8/10

All Cayennes come with alloy wheels, leather upholstery, air-conditioning, electric seats, traction control and a 12-speaker CD/radio. The Porsche Cayenne S adds 18-inch alloy wheels and climate control, the GTS adds sports seats, while the Turbo receives cruise control, headlight washers, heated seats and parking sensors. Further options include 19-inch, 20-inch and 21-inch alloy wheels in a variety of designs, panoramic glass roof, Porsche Communication Management (incorporating sat-nav and telephone) 14-speaker Bose system and DVD system. All buyers also receive a Porsche Driving Experience to help exploit the car’s potential.

10. X-Factor 10/10

It isn’t going to impress your environmentally-friendly mates; it’s not won any beauty contests and motoring costs are high. But boy, is this car great to drive and the range of chassis options ensure you can relax in comfort mode every now and then.

Key facts

Model tested: Porsche Cayenne
On the road price: £37,100
Price range: £37,100 – £74,650
Date tested: January 2008
Road tester: Adrian Higgins