The Cayenne is the bestselling model in the Porsche lineup
The Cayenne is the bestselling model in the Porsche lineupPorsche

2024 Porsche Cayenne first drive review

More than just a facelift, this heavily updated Cayenne is the last ICE before the line-up goes full electric in two years

If there's one model that can be single-handedly credited for the rude health that Porsche find themselves in, it is the Cayenne. Celebrating its 20th birthday, over 1.25 million Cayennes have been sold ever since the first generation sent us into a collective meltdown over the audacity of the sports car manufacturer branching out into big, fat SUVs. The fact that the first gen Cayenne was visually challenging, to say the least, did nothing to dampen sales and it

remains the bestseller in the range accounting for 32 per cent of the 300,000 Porsches sold in 2022. And keeping with Porsche’s stated aim of electrifying 80 per cent of the fleet by 2030, the Cayenne will get fully electrified when the fourth generation arrives in two years’ time. Until then we have this, the third-generation facelift, but one that’s so heavily revised the vice president of the Cayenne product line insists, “It’s one of the most extensive product upgrades in the history of Porsche.”

The 2024 Porsche Cayenne's interior features a screen in place of an analogue cluster
The 2024 Porsche Cayenne's interior features a screen in place of an analogue clusterPorsche

Heavily updated interior

Porsche have taken a giant ice cream scoop and shovelled out the area that formerly housed the instrument cluster, installing in its place
a neat little 12.3-inch curved digital display and instantly making the cabin look and feel more modern. From the passenger’s point of view though, this scooped out area looks, well, scooped out – like a quick-fix solution to inject tech into the cabin. Typical of Porsche the tachometer is housed front and centre in the display and while you do get the traditional five dial layout, as with all these screens, you can configure the display to also show a full screen map among others.

The design is similar to what you will find in the Taycan, though the EV does get a bigger screen. And more Taycan-inspired touches include the gear lever that now moves to the dash, operated by your finger, and leaving plenty of space in the centre console for the storage compartments and the air-con control panel. What, thankfully, hasn’t been carried over from the Taycan are the air-con vents and in the Cayenne you can adjust the direction and angle of the air-con throw by adjusting the vents manually and not via the touchscreen. The 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment is retained and it now gets native apps like Spotify and Apple Music. You get an air purifier including an ioniser and dust filter, and it is mapped to the navigation, automatically activating air recirculation when approaching tunnels. Wireless connectivity is standard and the fast wireless charger is now located in a cooled compartment so your phone can charge quickly without overheating.

Passengers now get a 10.9-inch option that displays all kinds of sports driving data so you know exactly why your stomach is feeling queasy. Passengers can also watch movies on this screen while on the move, a coating ensuring the driver cannot see what’s playing. This screen is a Rs 1.5 lakh option, which sounds reasonable when compared to the Rs 2.8 lakh you’ll need to shell out to spec the Bose sound system, or Rs 12.3 lakh for the Burmester. If you want screens at the rear you will need to dish out an additional Rs 4.7 lakh. Partial leather interior is standard, with full leather costing Rs 6.9 lakh going up to Rs 10 lakh for the club leather with cross-stitching – and the latter needs to be paired with either the (Rs 2.2 lakh) 14-way electrically adjustable comfort seats or the (Rs 3 lakh) 18-way adjustable adaptive sports seats. We’d pick the latter – it is a fabulous blend of comfort and support – and while we are at it we’ll add the Porsche crest on the headrest for Rs 94,000 and also throw in massage and seat ventilation for Rs 5.9 lakh. Want a panoramic sunroof? That’ll be Rs 4 lakh, while roof rails will cost you a further Rs 1.2 lakh. You can spend many, many days (and lots of money!) speccing your Porsche Cayenne.

The 2024 Porsche Cayenne gets a full-width light bar at the rear
The 2024 Porsche Cayenne gets a full-width light bar at the rearPorsche

SUV and SUV-Coupe body styles

With the facelift, Porsche have doubled down on horizontal lines to visually stretch out the Cayenne and allied to that are more pronounced wings, cleaner lines, and more prominent air intakes. The wings are now more arched and between them sits the redesigned bonnet with a flatter profile. The new headlights echo the lines of the wings and have a more horizontal and steeper stance while sporting a more technical design. Matrix LED lights are standard while HD-Matrix LED lights are a `4.7 lakh option; `5.7 lakh if you want the lights to be tinted. These headlights have two high- definition modules with more than 32,000 pixels per headlamp, the HD-Matrix technology blocking out the light of the high beam for other road users so as not to dazzle them. The brightness of the modules can also be regulated in more than 1,000 steps depending on the driving situation.

At the rear the numberplate holder migrates down to the bumper to leave space for a full-width three-dimensionally sculptured light bar that, for `2 lakh, you can have tinted. The Porsche logo in the lightbar features a three- dimensional, free-standing design. At launch you get both the traditional SUV or (for a very reasonable sounding Rs 6.2 lakh) the SUV-Coupe design. Both have identical front end design, but the Coupe gets a flatter windscreen and a sharper A-pillar angle while the rakishly-profiled rear end definitely looks more sporty. Standard wheel size is 20 inches with 21- inch wheels costing Rs 7.5 lakh. Although if you are going to upsize why not opt for the most expensive (and fabulous looking) 22-inch sport design wheels at Rs 10 lakh. And don’t forget to also tick the Rs 86,000 option for the extremely cool Porsche logo in the racing stripes applied to the base of the doors. It’s a not-so-subtle hint at the sportiness packed into the Cayenne, and that’s something Porsche engineers have also doubled down on.

Still the sport-SUV benchmark

The underpinnings remain unchanged including the third-generation Cayenne’s wheelbase, trackwidths and even weight except if you
opt for the lightweight sports packages (carbon roof, eight-way sports seats and 22-inch GT design wheels) that shaves up to 33kg. It’s the detail refinements though that lead to heightened agility and even more comfort, the most significant of which are the two-valve dampers. The V6 Cayenne coming to India gets steel springs, the adaptive air suspension isn’t available even as an option. Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) is standard and uses new dampers with two-valve technology that separates out the compression and rebound functions. Depending on the road conditions the valve for the compression stage can set variable damping forces independently of the valve for the rebound stage, and vice versa. This effect is a noticeable increase in ride comfort along with tighter control over roll and pitch. And you also observe an even more noticeable difference in suspension characteristics as you cycle from Comfort through to Sport Plus modes.

Contributing to the ride and handling balance are the new tyres of a larger 790mm diameter class, the increased wheel circumference allowing for lower air pressures and therefore greater comfort. The higher tyre load capacity can better deal with broken road surfaces, a definite plus point for use in India, while Porsche also claim better wet and dry surface traction with improved temperature resistance. Scything through the Austrian Alps the Cayenne felt even more poised and surefooted; even more capable of barrelling through corners at ridiculous speeds. Click the drive mode selector into Sport Plus and the suspension tightens to an extent where body roll is barely registered yet there is compliance to absorb any mid-corner undulations thus keeping the body flat and stable. And unlike other sport-SUVs that have big, fat, steering wheels, the Cayenne retains the typically- Porsche right-sized steering wheel that communicates in wonderful detail what’s happening at the tyres. Of course it is no 911, but compared to the standards of this class, this really does feel like a sports car that you can hustle at ridiculous speeds. Switch off ESP and you even get a bit of tail wag, though to really exploit that over-the-limit handling you need the V8. Optional chassis upgrades include Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (Rs 6.8 lakh) which you don’t really need with the V6 and rear axle steering (Rs 3.5 lakh) which we will recommend for its ability to virtually shorten the wheelbase (by turning the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the fronts) at low speeds to aid manoeuvrability and ease of driving in tight congested spaces while improving high speed stability (by turning in the same direction as the fronts).

The 2024 Porsche Cayenne only gets the V6 engine in India
The 2024 Porsche Cayenne only gets the V6 engine in IndiaPorsche

India only gets the V6 Cayenne

For all the options you can throw at the Cayenne, the only engine you get is the V6 turbo-petrol. Power goes up by 13bhp to 348bhp while torque is up 50Nm to 500Nm. This might be the base engine in the lineup but it is still capable of solid performance, the 0-100kmph sprint taking 5.7 seconds while top speed remains unchanged at 248kmph. Punch the Sport Response button on the drive mode selector and for 20 seconds everything – engine, transmission, steering, suspension – is in a heightened state of alertness for maximum thrust and dynamic ability; even the flaps in the optional sports exhaust (Rs 5.9 lakh) open up for a throaty roar when you floor it. For most intents and purposes this V6 has ample thrust, with the chassis upgrades making it a wonderfully agile and engaging SUV to hammer down derestricted Autobahn sections and windy Alpine roads. Until you drive the V8.

These are the dying days of the ICE so rather than downsizing, Porsche have ditched the V6 and gone back to a full-on twin-turbo V8 on the Cayenne S. Might as well make full use of the combustion engine while it is still around! Compared to the earlier V6, power goes up by 34bhp to 467bhp while torque is up 50Nm to 600Nm, the next effect being to slash the 0-100kmph time to 4.7 seconds and hike the top speed to 273kmph. And it does all this while sounding properly violent and angry. Maybe the V8 is overkill for India – though if you are going to be spending so much you might as well go the full nine yards – but what I do believe this Porsche should offer in India is the E-Hybrid. This gets a higher capacity battery (up from 17.9kWh to 25.9kWh) that puts out 174bhp and combined with the V6 motor the total system output is now 463bhp. Total torque is a V8-matching 600Nm and with launch control activated 0-100kmph comes up in, again a V8- matching, 4.7 seconds. So you get performance. But you can also potter around the city in silence and with zero emissions. The E-hybrid gets a full electric range of 90km while the new 11 kW on-board charger shortens the charging times of this plug-in hybrid.

Finally there’s the all-singing-all-dancing Turbo GT, the only model in the line-up that is purely road-focused, the current lap record holder round the Nurburgring Nordschleife. 650bhp, 850Nm, 0-100kmph in 3.3 seconds and a top speed of 305kmph. And it’s not coming to India. In fact the Turbo GT hasn’t even been homologated for Europe, getting it to meet emission norms proving to be much too costly for what will be limited volumes.

The 2024 Porsche Cayenne range starts at Rs 1.36 crore
The 2024 Porsche Cayenne range starts at Rs 1.36 crore Porsche

India launch in July

The first of these facelifted Cayennes have already arrived in India and the formal launch is slated for July. Priced at Rs 1.36 crore for the SUV and Rs 1.42 core for the Coupe, only the V6 will be offered at launch, and since this is a CBU, and since Porsche offer an absolutely incredible amount of options to choose from, you can go completely crazy speccing your Cayenne. We tried out the car configurator on the Porsche India website (highly recommended, you’ll easily spend a couple of hours in there) and our spec pushed up the ex- showroom price to nearly Rs 2 crore. And that begs the question, if you’re going to spend that kind of money what’s a little more for the bigger engines? I guess if buyers make enough noise there’s nothing stopping Porsche India from bringing either the E-Hybrid or the V8 Cayenne S. Or both.

And those worried that the ICE Cayenne will get obsolete once the full EV riding on the all- new platform comes along in two years’ time, fear not. Porsche have confirmed both the ICE and EV will continue to be sold together, until such time that legislation makes it unviable. Enjoy the ICE then, while you still can.

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