Parkers overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 4.2
  • V6, V8, and plug-in hybrids
  • No diesel or electric
  • Frugal to ferocious

Petrol engines

The standard Cayenne uses a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6, producing 340hp and 450Nm of torque. It’s good for a 0-60mph time of 5.9 seconds and if you’re not after the searing speed of the far more powerful Turbo-badged Cayennes, this is where our money would go. It’s perfectly capable for everyday driving – so much so that it has us questioning the relevance of the S model, too.

It doesn’t make a great noise, but its breadth of performance is such that it will fulfil daily duties without breaking a sweat. You will only notice the lack of performance when driving flat-out, but realistically how many Cayennes see that sort of action?

The S model employs a slightly smaller 2.9-litre V6, but features two turbochargers to boost power. It benefits from 440hp and 550Nm of torque, and accelerates to 60mph in 4.9 seconds. While a 100hp increase looks a lot on paper, the S doesn’t feel demonstrably quicker than the standard car until you’re really pressing on. Its sound is slightly noisier, but it’s also a little odd. Porsche seems to have engineered in some low-speed V8-type burble that doesn’t sound real, yet at the top end this motor sounds strained – it’s trying too hard.

The GTS is the cheapest of the V8 engined range. It has a 4.5 second 0-60mph time and a deliciously deep soundtrack. But we think if you’re willing to spend this much you should go all-in and get a Turbo.

The meatiest of the petrols is the Turbo. Its 4.0-litre V8 conjures 550hp and a considerable 770Nm of torque from its 4.0-litre V8, which means a 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds. It might not seem all that much quicker than the cheaper models on paper, but its larger engine means it has to work less hard, ultimately making it seem effortless in comparison. Sounds like thunder too.

Hybrid engines

The first plug-in hybrid is the E-Hybrid. It uses the 3.0-litre V6 turbo from the standard Cayenne, with the addition of an electric motor for a combined system power output of 462hp and 700Nm of torque. This particular Cayenne is capable of surging from 0-60mph in 4.7 seconds. Not bad for the eco-friendly version.

It’s satisfying to make use of too, and quite good fun. Being able to waft around town in silence (for up to 30 miles) is very refined and civilised, but the punchy petrol engine quickly wakes up when required thanks to the slick drivetrain that flicks between drive modes – E-Power, Hybrid Auto, Sport and Sport Plus – seamlessly.

With a 0-60mph time of 3.6 seconds, the Turbo S E-Hybrid is the quickest Cayenne in the range. It uses the 550hp twin-turbo V8 and a 136hp electric motor to make a 680hp combined output, assuming you have some charge in the battery. Bury the accelerator and you can feel the two ‘engines’ combine to create serious force. It’s an extremely quick bit of kit and faster than quite a few supercars of yesteryear.

What’s it like to drive?

  • Assured and capable handling
  • Active anti-roll and rear-wheel steering
  • Drive modes make a big difference

Porsche’s Cayenne is hard to beat if you’re an enthusiastic driver – even BMW’s X5 pales in comparison with the Porsche.

It uses a lot of the same oily bits as the Audi Q7 and Bentley Bentayga, but Porsche says that it has specifically redeveloped some of them for its own requirement to make sure that it drives differently to its Volkswagen Group stablemate.

The steering is fantastically weighted and is precise, while regardless of whether you choose the regular springs or optional air suspension, it stays planted and flat even when you’re negotiating corners at high speed.

Everything feels tight and assured, and if you push the Cayenne hard, there’s enough information coming through the steering wheel to give you confidence and a feeling of stability. It feels like something this big shouldn’t handle as well as it does, but Porsche’s expertise is clear to see.

Sport and Sport Plus driving modes increasingly make the gearchanges more ferocious, harden-up the suspension and slacken-off the traction control.

With the Turbo in particular, switching between these two modes activates the adaptive rear wing, which acts as an air brake in hard braking manoeuvres. On cars equipped with the Sport Chrono Pack you’re able to switch between Normal, Sport and Sport Plus using a neat rotary control on the steering wheel.

The Cayenne is available with what Porsche calls rear-axle steering, which allows the back wheels to steer slightly. This has two effects: at speeds below 50mph it makes the Cayenne more agile, able to turn in a smaller area because the rear wheels turn the opposite way to the fronts. At speeds above 50mph both sets of wheels steer in the same direction, which increases high-speed stability when cornering.

In reality, all you need is a Cayenne (preferably on air suspension) without any of the other cleverness. Sure, it leans a bit – this is a large, two-tonne car – but in doing so it also telegraphs far more about what’s happening underneath you and is more confidence-inspiring.

Each Cayenne gets an eight-speed automatic gearbox called Tiptronic S. This features a shorter first gear (for better acceleration) and longer eighth ratio for lower-rpm cruising capability, which keeps fuel economy reasonable for a car of this size and power.

It changes cogs incredibly smoothly when in default Normal setting, but as you dial the drive modes up through Sport to Sport Plus the changes get far quicker and more abrupt.

You’re able to control the ‘box using the steering wheel-mounted paddle-shifters, and this is possible without the frustrating lack of response some other cars exhibit.