When most manufacturers commit to updating a model, it’s usually done all at once. Not so for the Porsche Cayenne. Last year saw the second-generation vehicle receive a mid-life update, but only for the S, and S E-Hybrid trims. The Diesel also received updates, too, but it’s presently unavailable for purchase. Now it’s time for the rest of the Cayenne range to receive updates, with the standard Cayenne (V6), GTS, and high-performance Turbo S.
This trio now gets the latest Porsche styling with new headlamps (available full LED beams) inspired by the 918 Spyder, bumpers, wider tail lights with horizontal strakes, and new styling details like a reworked hatch-top spoiler. GTS and Turbo S models share the regular Turbo’s open grille setup to funnel air to their powerful engines. Inside, all models get a 918-inspired steering wheel with proper metal paddles for manual shifting. A new optional rear-seat entertainment system which just debuted in the Panamera is now offered; it features twin 10.1-inch rear screens and can be further upgraded to include a WLAN router for wireless internet.
The base Cayenne’s engine is carried over virtually unchanged. The direct-injected naturally aspirated 3.6-litre V6 makes 300 hp and is paired to an eight-speed automatic – which is shared with all other Cayenne trims. The S’ engine also is a 3.6-litre, but of a completely different design that boasts a pair of turbos to generate 420 hp – 20 more than the same engine used in the Macan Turbo. The S E-Hybrid uses an Audi-sourced 3.0-litre supercharged V6 mated to a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Though its 10.8 kWh battery is meager compared to plug-ins like the Chevy Volt and Tesla Model S, it can be charged in as little as 90 minutes thanks to its optional 7.2 kW on-board charger.
Perhaps the model with the greatest amount of change is the GTS. It used to use a burly naturally aspirated V8 engine, but it’s been swapped for an enhanced version of the S’ twin-turbo V6. Power grows to 440 hp from 420, while 443 lb-ft of torque is on tap instead of 406. It also gets better fuel efficiency too, and boasts standard idle-stop. While a turbo six can’t hold a candle to the full-bodied roar of a V8, the GTS does offer a throatier-sounding active exhaust system. Handling is also said to have been improved thanks to suspension tweaks that have filtered down from the top-line Turbo and stiffer standard springs. One thing enthusiasts are destined to miss is the manual transmission, which has since been discontinued.
At the top of the Cayenne heap is the Turbo S. Like the 520-hp Turbo, it features a 4.8-litre V8, but Porsche found another 20 horsepower and 37 lb-ft of torque for a total of 570 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque – enough to keep BMW’s mighty X5 and X6 M at bay. Really, only a handful of other SUVs can out-power it: the outlandish 63-series AMG versions of the Benz GLE and GLS, and the 12-cylinder G65 AMG, plus the forthcoming Bentley Bentayga. In any sense, it’s a devastatingly fast vehicle capable of a four-second 0-100 km/h sprint. As a part of the upgrade, Porsche has fitted the Cayenne Turbo S with its best firmware: now standard is a torque-vectoring differential, and whopping 10-piston front calipers with carbon ceramic disc brakes. The latter were formerly an extra-pricey five-figure option.
Though ubiquitous, the Cayenne remains a practical, comfortable, and infinitely customizable performance and luxury utility vehicle. It’s even surprisingly adept off-road and towing, when appropriately configured. Pricing for the refreshed lineup starts now starts at $67,400, with the wallet-wilting Turbo S priced at $178,100 before options.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed