The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Porsche Cayenne offers the best handling of any 4x4, while the diesel and hybrid models offer reasonable running costs.
Reasons to buy:
- Excellent handling
- Impressive performance
- Refined and well-made cabin
How good does it look?
The looks of the first Porsche Cayenne were controversial when it was launched in 2003, as it was the manufacturer’s first ever 4×4 vehicle. But, it went on to be Porsche’s best-selling model, despite its bulbous styling. The latest model has an all-new body and looks more stylish thanks to sharper lines, modern headlamps and distinctive LED tail lights.
What's the interior like?
Despite being high enough to see over most cars, you sit low behind the Cayenne’s dashboard and there’s a wide centre console which gives the driving position a cockpit feel. It makes the Cayenne feel much more like a big sports saloon than a traditional 4×4, and gives you more confidence to exploit its performance. The dashboard is well put together and feels technical. The sheer number of buttons and switches is confusing at first and there’s a gauge or computer display for every aspect of the car’s inner workings – perfect for driving enthusiasts, but complicated for those who simply want to get in and go.
How practical is it?
Until the four-seat Panamera arrived the Cayenne was the only practical model wearing a Porsche badge – and it is still the most spacious by some margin. Rear space has improved markedly over the original Cayenne thanks to the whole car being 48mm longer. The boot is big, with 670 litres of space in normal use or 1,780 with the rear seats folded down. The Cayenne S Hybrid has 580 or 1,690 litres of space, as some space is lost to its extra motor and batteries. This is plenty for most families, but some rivals including the Land Rover Range Rover Sport (958 to 2,013 litres) offer much more space.
What's it like to drive?
The Cayenne is the clear class-leader when it comes to driving fun in a 4×4. The steering is impressively sharp and well-weighted and comfort is good at lower speeds. The big wheels can thump into potholes, but passengers are left unruffled. Until you get out of town it feels much like any 4×4 in its class, but when those faster country roads appear, you’re left in no doubt who has built the Cayenne. Bends are shrugged off as if they were never there, with only the tightest hairpin corners exposing the Cayenne as the big and heavy car it is.
How powerful is it?
We tested the big seller, which is a 3-litre V6 diesel with 236bhp and 406lb/ft of pulling power. It gets the Cayenne to 62mph in just over seven seconds, which feels quick in such a big car, but acceleration is less sporting at motorway speeds. There’s also a 3.6-litre V6 petrol offering similar performance and a 4.8-litre V8 with 394bhp or 493bhp in Turbo guise. The V8s reach 62mph in a staggering 5.9 and 4.7 seconds respectively, making them sensationally quick. The Turbo’s acceleration is only matched by the BMW X6 M, while the quickest Range Rover Sport takes 5.9 seconds. The oddball of the line-up is the new S Hybrid, which has 374bhp and hits 62mph in 6.5 seconds.
How much will it cost me?
Cheapest to run is the diesel, thanks to its average 38.2mpg economy and 195g/km CO2 emissions, which keep it out of the highest road tax bands. Improvements over its predecessor can be attributed to a reduction in weight of the whole car of more than 100kg and the addition of stop and start. The S Hybrid emits 193g/km of CO2 and averages 34.4mpg. At the other end of the spectrum is the Turbo which manages 23.2mpg and emits 270g/km of CO2. A significant cost will be servicing and depreciation, with Cayennes expected to retain around half their value after three years. Porsche maintenance and repair costs are high, but not outrageously so compared with rivals.
How reliable is it?
The Porsche Cayenne has been a very reliable model and the latest version should be just as good. When things do go wrong out of warranty, however, the bill could be substantial.
How safe is it?
The Porsche Cayenne hasn’t been crash tested by EuroNCAP, however we’d expect it to perform very well thanks to a hugely strong body, advanced electronic stability programme and powerful anti-lock brakes. If the worst should happen, there are front, side and curtain airbags.
How much equipment do I get?
All Cayenne models are well-equipped with leather seats, climate control, dual-zone climate control and a touch-screen centre console display. The Cayenne Turbo adds air suspension with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), xenon headlights, 19-inch alloy wheels, tyre pressure monitoring, sat-nav, BOSE audio system, heated seats and metallic paint. Cayenne S, S Hybrid and Turbo models are fitted with Porsche Vehicle Tracking System (VTS).
There’s no 4×4 which handles as well as the Cayenne, and very few can match its sensational performance.