Porsche Cayenne S Review 2018 UK
Performance doesn't come at the expense of comfort and composure in Porsche's mid-range Cayenne.
What is it?
By now, you’re probably rather familiar with the third-generation Porsche Cayenne. It sits on the same MLB platform as the Bentley Bentayga, Audi Q7 and Lamborghini Urus - albeit here with a shortened wheelbase - and has even more tech, a revised engine line-up and a cleaner, more luxurious interior than before.
Here, we have the middle-of-the-range Cayenne S, and it’s the first time we’ve driven this particular strain of Cayenne in the UK (you may remember our video review of the Turbo variant from last year).
At its nose sits a 2.9-litre, twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine that churns out a heady 435bhp and 406lb ft of torque, sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. A centre differential allows power to be split between the front and rear axles, while a second differential at the back can split power between whichever rear wheel it determines needs it most.
While the new Cayenne range weighs an average of 60kg less than the second-generation line-up, Porsche’s largest model remains a pretty portly beast; kerb weight is at 2,020kg in S guise. Despite this considerable bulk, that V6 is capable of shifting the Cayenne S to 62mph from a standstill in just 5.2sec and on to a top speed of 164mph.
What's it like?
While a dash of cynicism is often recommended when dealing with a manufacturer’s quoted performance times, to give credit to Porsche the Cayenne S feels every bit as fast as it says it is.
Our test vehicle was equipped with the £774-a-pop Sport Chrono Package, which includes a steering wheel-mounted drive mode selector. Rather delightfully, this also adds a launch control function, which we were able to try out on track at the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone.
This particular function is enabled by selecting Sport+, putting your left foot down hard on the brake and mashing the throttle with your right. As the revs rise to around 2,500rpm, you can feel the car tugging at the reins as the torque - all 406lb ft worth - is released when you lift your left foot.
Traction off the line is immense, as is the accompanying surge of acceleration. There’s no discernable lag and the climb up through the rev band is deliciously linear - all of which is accompanied by a deep growl from the exhaust that sounds just ferocious enough without being overly coarse. While this powerplant may not ooze charisma or character, it does make the Cayenne S feel every bit as fast as Porsche claims it is.
It comes to a halt just as impressively. Stuttgart’s new white-calipered Porsche Surface Coated Brakes (a halfway house of sorts between steel brakes and full-on carbon ceramics), fitted to our test car at a cost of £2,105, took three consecutive emergency stops in their stride with nothing in the way of noticeable fade.
Out on the road, the Cayenne S’s confidence in its abilities is no less apparent. Its suspension comprises aluminium multi-link arrangements with steel springs front and rear, while Porsche Active Suspension Management is also standard. With the adaptive dampers set to comfort, the Cayenne S’s primary ride is generally very fluid and supple.
Given its fairly immense size, vertical travel and lateral roll are kept largely in check over undulations and through faster bends, although particularly uneven surfaces can upset proceedings somewhat. Sport and Sport+ modes tighten everything up - they're great on smoother sections of Tarmac but further emphasise coarser patches road.
The steering, meanwhile, is positively weighted and offers a fairly impressive level of communication with the front tyres. The front end reacts keenly to your inputs, turning in with little in the way of delay or hesitation, while the combination of four-wheel drive and the sticky 295/35 section tyres of our optional 21in alloy wheels (£2,867) provide impressive levels of grip.
Should I buy one?
Despite our test vehicle being fitted with a fair few number of performance-enhancing - not to mention expensive - options, the Cayenne S leaves the impression that it would still be a dynamically and athletically impressive steer for its size even without those things.
Its composure and capability on more challenging stretches of road don’t come at the cost of refinement or comfort when out on the motorway, either. Instead, the Cayenne S comes across as a car you could cover vast distances in with little in the way of bother.
While part of this is down to its chassis and powertrain, of equal importance here is the cabin. Not only is it spacious and generously appointed - sat-nav, Bluetooth, DAB radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and more are all standard - there’s a huge amount of adjustability on offer as well.
Yes, at £68,330 (£83,936 in the case of our kitted out test car), the Cayenne S isn’t what you’d consider cheap or affordable, and the styling or 30.1mpg claimed fuel economy won’t be to everyone’s liking. But this is a performance SUV, after all, so it's to be expected.
And, as a performance SUV, the Cayenne S is a pretty magnificent thing.
Credit: Simon Davis
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