Porsche Cayenne (2010-2018) Review
The Porsche Cayenne is the original sporty SUV, and despite its age, arguably still the best
Strengths & weaknesses
- Enormously powerful engines
- Enjoyable to drive
- Comfortable interior
- Starting to show its age
- Stingy standard equipment
When the original Porsche Cayenne first arrived, nobody could quite believe a two-tonne SUV could be engineered to perform like a sports car. While we’ve had plenty of time to digest it now, driving one is still a big surprise. Quite a few large SUVs like the Mercedes GLE 63 S and Range Rover Sport SVR have similar on-paper performance figures to the Cayenne Turbo, but only a few models like the Jaguar F-Pace can come close for pure driver enjoyment behind the wheel.
You might be amazed to learn the Cayenne is even pretty good off-road. Of course, you may not want to venture too far off the tarmac with 21-inch alloy wheels fitted, but in the standard diesel model with more sensible 18-inch wheels and tyres, the Cayenne’s four-wheel drive system can propel it through mud and up steep slopes. Every Cayenne (except the GTS) can also tow a braked trailer weighing up to 3,500kg, making light work of large caravans or even a horsebox.
Since the launch of the first model in 2003, the Cayenne has matured somewhat, with the 3.0-litre diesel able to return more than 40mpg, and even a plug-in hybrid which can drive on electricity alone for around 22 miles. This has broadened the appeal of the Cayenne to a wider audience, and cemented its position as Porsche’s best-selling model. Its success has also spawned the smaller Porsche Macan, a rival to the Audi Q5, Range Rover Evoque and Mercedes GLC.
With a 670-litre boot, the Cayenne ushered in the era of the practical Porsche, with plenty of room for five adults to sit in comfort, with ample leg and headroom. Owners steep praise on Porsche build quality, which is evident in the well-finished cabin, even if some of the controls are somewhat fussy and confusing at first.
SUV essentials like a touchscreen media system, sat-nav, a powered tailgate and alloy wheels are standard, but the Cayenne’s equipment leads us on to our biggest complaint. The fact is, even some fairly commonplace features like DAB digital radio (£324) are optional extras, when even the most basic Cayenne cost over £50,000 new.
This makes it several thousand pounds more costly than the larger Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Volvo XC90, whilst putting it on a similar footing with the pricey Mercedes GLE. Jump up to the range-topping Cayenne Turbo S, and it was almost unique in its pricing, costing just under £120,000, despite having less power than the £96,000 Mercedes GLE 63 AMG. One of the only SUVs which cost more new was the Bentley Bentayga, which started from £135,000.
|£0 per year to £515
Best Porsche Cayenne for...
Best for Economy – Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid
So long as you can regularly recharge the E-Hybrid model’s battery pack at home or at a public charger, it can return up to 83mpg and emit just 79g/km of CO2. Only cover short journeys and recharge religiously and you could use no petrol at all, cutting exhaust emissions to zero.
Best for Families – Porsche Cayenne Diesel
While the Cayenne might be renowned for its performance, the standard Diesel model is – dare we say it – rather sensible. It’s practical and has a comfortable interior too.
Best for Performance – Porsche Cayenne Turbo S
Few things can prepare you for putting your foot down in a 570hp Cayenne. Acceleration from 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds feels supercar quick, yet you are sitting in a comfy SUV.
One to Avoid – Porsche Cayenne GTS
While the GTS badge holds plenty of appeal for Porsche enthusiasts (the 911 GTS is regarded as the best version of the sportscar), the Cayenne version only has 20hp more than the petrol ‘S’ model, yet its suspension and styling upgrades mean it costs £12,000 more.
Understanding Porsche Cayenne names
Trim level Turbo
The Cayenne trims (Diesel, S, S E-Hybrid, GTS, Turbo, Turbo S) tell you the amount of equipment included with the car. Diesel is the entry-level.
Engine S 4.8 570 PS
Cayenne engines include petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid (S E-Hybrid). The PS rating distinguishes different power ratings of the same engine, showing the engines' horsepower (hp). The size (eg: 3.0) is also shown in litres.
Tiptronic is Porsche’s name for a traditional automatic gearbox
Porsche Cayenne Engines
Diesel 3.0, S 3.6, S Hybrid 3.0, S Diesel 4.2, S E-Hybrid 3.0, GTS 3.6, Turbo 4.8, Turbo S 4.8
The Porsche Cayenne was the world’s first true performance SUV, which doesn’t just look sporty, but actually has the performance of a sports car. There isn’t a model in the range which takes more than 7.3 seconds to reach 62mph from rest, with the range-topper being almost twice as quick.
Of all the engines, the standard 266hp diesel is the most conventional, but getting from 0-62mph in just over seven seconds, it’s still faster than any diesel Volvo XC90. Predictably, fuel economy is the best of the lot too (except for the hybrid), with 43mpg possible despite its standard four-wheel drive. A diesel is also available in the 4.2-litre ‘S Diesel’ model, with a huge jump up in power to 391hp. This makes for a different animal altogether, with 0-62mph achieved in just over five seconds and a top speed more than double the motorway limit, but claimed economy drops to 35mpg.
The Cayenne ‘S’ model is also available as a twin-turbocharged 3.6-litre petrol engine with 426hp, which gets to 62mph in roughly the same time as the diesel, but can only mange 30mpg.
With official economy figures of 83.1mpg and free road tax (if registered before April 2017) thanks to 79g/km of CO2 emissions, the plug-in hybrid Cayenne S E-Hybrid could be a tempting alternative to the S Diesel. It’s slightly slower (5.9 seconds from 0-62mph), but actually costs around £1,000 less to buy. It is almost £12,000 more than the entry level Cayenne however.
The Cayenne GTS costs an eye-watering £75,000, and for that you get a model with just 20hp more than the £63,000 Cayenne S. Most of your money spent here goes on styling upgrades and an enhanced chassis, rather than straight-line performance.
For that, look no further than the 4.8-litre V8 found in the Turbo (520hp) and Turbo S (570hp), which can launch from 0-62mph in an astonishing 4.1 to 4.5 seconds, with a top speed of up to 176mph. These are Top Trump figures, and you might also need a surname like Trump to afford its 25mpg fuel economy top-band road tax.
Porsche Cayenne Trims
Diesel, S, S Diesel, S E-Hybrid, GTS, Turbo, Turbo S
Each Cayenne trim level is intrinsically linked with the engine under the bonnet, affecting the personality of the whole vehicle. The standard Cayenne only comes with a diesel, and gets 18-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, a powered tailgate, climate control, partial leather seats and a seven-inch media system with sat-nav and Bluetooth connectivity.
There’s no doubting the Cayenne has an upmarket interior, but some of the technology is starting to show its age next to newer models like the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90, while smaller 18-inch wheels look a little lost on the Cayenne. Of course, there are numerous options available, from changing the colour of the seatbelts to adding a Burmester stereo system. Porsche suggests adding a Sport, Touring or Innovation package, adding groupings of kit like a reversing camera, 20 or 21-inch wheels and a heated steering wheel, but they cost £19,132, £12,785 and £15,039 respectively. Ouch.
The ‘S’ trim gets a different style of wheels, along with quad exhaust pipes, but some quite rudimentary features are reserved for the options list, including items like a DAB digital radio, which comes as standard on a Volkswagen Polo nowadays. Choose the S E-Hybrid and Acid Green badges help distinguish it from the conventional Cayenne, as do its brakes, which are painted in the same shade. Inside, there’s a TFT digital display to help you monitor the balance of engine and electric motor power, and drive more efficiently.
Choose the GTS model and it stands out thanks to an exterior styling makeover, with 20-inch alloy wheels, tinted rear LED light clusters, black exterior trim and GTS lettering. Inside it’s fitted with sports seats bearing the ‘GTS’ logo and a mixture of leather and Alcantara upholstery.
It’s similar in appearance to the range-topping Turbo models, but those can be distinguished by LED headlights, 18-way electric front seats, heated front and rear seats and an Alcantara roof lining.
Porsche Cayenne Reliability and warranty
The Cayenne doesn’t appear in the 2019 Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, but the Porsche brand still impresses, in previous years finishing seventh out of 32 manufacturers. Owners were hugely impressed with build quality, where Porsche came second in 2016 and were only beaten by Lexus, along with a second-place finish in the performance road holding categories.
All Porsche models have a standard three-year or 100,000-mile warranty (whichever comes first), which is shorter than we’d like, but at least takes account of high-mileage drivers.
Used Porsche Cayenne
While expensive, powerful SUVs can lose value at an alarming rate, the kudos of the Cayenne’s Porsche badge, and the fact it has such a great reputation, has kept used values relatively stable. With the introduction of a diesel engine, the Cayenne became a much more accessible model for non-enthusiast owners, and a well-presented 2014 model can still be worth over £30,000.
Values of the S E-Hybrid are buoyed by the fact they rarely come onto the used market, and are sought after by city dwellers, thanks to their low CO2 emissions.
The desirability of powerful Turbo and GTS performance versions of the Cayenne can fluctuate, even depending on where in the country they are for sale. Where there are local pockets of wealthy driving enthusiasts after the ultimate performance SUV, they can command a premium, but further afield they may struggle to sell, owing to their high running costs and polarising image.
When buying any Cayenne, a Porsche service history is crucial, and modified cars should only be considered if work has been carried out to the highest standard and doesn’t affect safety or performance.