This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Porsche Cayenne (10-18) review.

Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

The Cayenne shares its original six-cylinder engine with Volkswagen, albeit with a few tweaks. Initially the entry-level model was a 3.2-litre with 250bhp, but it struggled for pace in such a heavy and large car. A new (Volkswagen-sourced) 3.6-litre engine arrived in 2007 with 290bhp. It's certainly livelier in the mid-range with more pulling power.

The pre-2007 Cayenne S comes with a 4.5-litre V8 engine producing 340bhp which was certainly the equal of a V8-engined BMW X5 in terms of performance. This was replaced by a new 4.8-litre engine in 2007, boasting 385bhp and huge reserves of low down grunt. The automatic version is capable of sprinting from 0-62mph in just 6.8 seconds. Top of the range is the Cayenne Turbo which used a 450bhp turbocharged version of the 4.5-litre V8 when it was launched, which ensured it was seriously quick - and able to reach 62mph from rest in less than six seconds.

A special edition with 520bhp version was also available for a short time. The updated Cayenne Turbo launched in 2007 comes with a 500bhp 4.8-litre V8. Available only as an automatic it covers the 0-62mph dash in an amazing 5.1 seconds and is capable of more than 170mph flat out. Six-speed manual gearboxes are fitted as standard in the Cayenne and Cayenne S, but most owners will choose the optional six-speed automatic.

The Cayenne brings previously unseen levels of grip and handling to the 4x4 market - provided you choose the right hardware from the options list. Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (working in conjunction with the optional air suspension) might seem quite expensive at more than £2,000, but if you're used to sportscar road manners and don't want to compromise just because you need a 4x4, then it's well worth having.

The anti-roll system anticipates and reduces body movement during cornering. There is also an off-road technology pack which incorporates a lockable rear differential, skid plates, engine bay guard and extra protection for the fuel tank. The Cayenne is fitted with a low-range gearbox as standard. Air suspension can be chosen on its own (without PDCC) to aid the Cayenne's off-road ability and increase ground clearance when needed.

There are two lower settings (automatically engaged) for high speed driving to improve stability and aerodynamics. Without either of these features the Cayenne is still quite nimble for a large 4x4. The brakes are effective at stopping this 2.2-tonne car and have a reassuring feel through the pedal.