Porsche Cayenne review: Hot to trot
Shock! Horror! Back in 2002, hard-line Porsche enthusiasts greeted the launch of the company’s original groundbreaking Cayenne 4x4 SUV with incredulity.
In their view, a real Porsche must, by definition, be lithe, low-slung and rear-engined – very much an out-and-out sports car. But here was something radically different from the iconic 911.
The wider public took a more welcoming stance, however, quickly establishing the new model as the German company's biggest seller, offering as it did not only high performance and sure-footed handling but comfort and practicality too. It’s an SUV, surely, but drives like a hot-shot sports sedan.
In its latest generation, the Cayenne offers sleeker styling, better economy and improved dynamics, pitting it against such classy rivals as the Range Rover Sport, Mercedes ML63 and BMW X5, as well as its own Volkswagen Group cousin, the VW Touareg.
There are now no less than eight versions of the Cayenne to choose from, including a very fuel efficient 83.1-mpg S E-Hybrid, the twin-turbo GTS that we road tested for a week and, for speed freaks, the insanely quick range topping Turbo S.
The tidied-up front and rear ends, a palette of new colours and better looking wheels raise desirability to new levels.
Though a little cramped, the interior oozes class and luxury, with high quality materials and finish. Though the Cayenne stands high, the seats are low-set in the cabin, giving a sports car style driving position but with better forward vision. SUV? Well, think of it essentially as a luxury estate car with four-wheel drive and heightened ground clearance – making it an icon for the country set.
With other high end manufacturers like Jaguar and, would you believe, Bentley jumping onto the SUV start line, the Cayenne faces some formidable competition, especially when you factor pricing into the equation. Where the opposition score is in their more generous equipment levels. On the road prices for the 2016 Cayenne range from £59,689 to £94,603 but the tag quickly soars as options are added.
Is this, then, a real Porsche? Well, it’s got style, panache and prestige and it’s certainly fit for purpose when it comes to performance and sure-footed handling both on and off-road, so the answer has to be a resounding “Yes!”