Even the ‘entry-level’ model has a 295bhp 3.6-litre V6, while the S model has a 395bhp 4.8-litre V8. The Turbo version raises power to a staggering 493bhp and boasts a 0-62mph time of just 4.7 seconds. For diesel buyers there’s a 242bhp 3.0-litre V6, and a storming 377bhp 4.2-litre V8. Finally, there’s a Hybrid model, which combines a supercharged 3.0-litre petrol engine with an electric motor to deliver 375bhp.
The low-speed ride is unsettled, even if you put the suspension in its softest setting. Things improve with speed, though, and most versions of the Cayenne change direction with incredible agility and poise. The driver-focused GTS version is even better. The Hybrid model is disappointing, though: its electrically assisted steering feels light and artificial, while the weight distribution of the electric motor and its ancillaries upsets the overall balance and ride quality of the car.
All the engines are quiet at a steady cruise although some wind noise builds up around the door mirrors at motorway speeds. Additionally, those fat tyres generate a fair amount of drone and there’s some supplementary whine from the axles and differentials.
There’s no getting away from it – the Cayenne is very expensive to buy, lease and insure. The V6, S and Turbo models also sit in the top company car tax bracket and drink petrol like it’s going out of style. However, the S Hybrid and diesels all average over 30mpg, and offer slightly lower ownership costs.
The materials in the Cayenne’s cabin look absolutely gorgeous. What’s more, the fit and finish is superb and all of the controls work with slick precision. The Cayenne didn’t feature in the most recent JD Power ownership satisfaction survey, however Porsche performed disappointingly in the latest Reliability Survey.
Porsche fits all Cayennes with a host of driver aids, including a stability control system that helps prevent skids. If an accident still proves unavoidable, front, side and curtain airbags will deploy to minimise injuries. S, S Hybrid, GTS and Turbo models also come with a sophisticated vehicle tracking system as standard.
The view from the driver’s seat is pure Porsche: the front wings are higher than the bonnet and the rev counter is positioned in the centre of the dials to evoke that desirable, classic race-car styling. It’s easy to make yourself comfortable, too, because there’s a huge range of adjustment. However, the swish-looking dashboard is covered in buttons, so it can be difficult to find the one you want at a glance.
The Cayenne is the only Porsche with space for five (and plenty of it), but there’s no seven-seat version. The boot is large and well shaped, and you can change the balance between cabin and luggage space, because the 60/40-split rear seats slide back and forth. They don’t fold completely flat, though.
Every Cayenne has electrically adjustable front seats, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors and cruise control. However, you might be surprised that sat-nav, heated seats, privacy glass and even Bluetooth cost extra on most versions.
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The Cayenne Diesel S costs a good deal more than the V6 diesel and averages 5.2mpg less, but if you want the best performance SUV on sale, it's the one to have.