Cayenne might have brought sports car DNA to an SUV back at its 2002 inception, but it’s the fledgling Macan – smaller, lighter, friskier on road – that not only converts DNA to delivery more confidently but is enjoying the sales success that’s currently pushing customer orders out to beyond a nine-month wait.
It’s timely, then, that the big brother, accountable for half of Porsche’s global sales, gets a freshen up.
The 2015 nips and tucks aren’t quite as wholesale as 2010’s major face-lift; that’s right, that DNA is now nudging 15 years young. Exterior styling wise, everything from the A-pillar forward, as well as the tailgate, tail-lights, rear bar and exhaust outlet placement, is new.
Anything between is carryover. The three-variant launch range – petrol S, diesel S and Turbo – looks sharper and cleaner, though with oh-so Porsche-like subtlety. Bigger news is the base S Petrol ($139,900) has dropped the naturally aspirated 4.8-litre V8 in favour of a twin-turbo 3.6-litre V6.
While it’s yet another nail in the coffin of the unblown bent-eight breed, the six brings an extra 15kW and 50Nm to the requiem – the new 309kW and 550Nm S Petrol will march to 100km/h 0.3sec swifter (5.4sec with optional Sport Chrono) than the old S.
An extra $3300 gets you the S Diesel, its 4.2-litre bi-turbo V8 oiler remains at a heady 850Nm while it adds just two extra kilowatts to total 283kW. Sport Chrono equipped, it’s also 0.1sec swifter for the 0-100km/h sprint (5.3sec) than the more lightweight 2085kg petrol, despite a sizeable 130kg weight penalty.
Frankly, the oiler is more real-world desirable. The diesel’s shove is palpable, its driveability is effortless, the engine note borders on sweetness and, crucial to realistic SUV ownership, whatever penalty weight plays in dynamics is shadowed by the oiler’s more preferable 8.0L/100km combined consumption against the petrol’s 9.8L/100km figure.
The top-rung Turbo delivers astonishing 4.5sec 0-100km/h potential from its 382kW and 750Nm twin-turbo 4.8-litre V8, as it ought to for the jump to $230,800 before options. Leverage the 2185kg device’s big party trick, though, and you can kiss its combined 11.5L/100km bon voyage.
Every Cayenne gets a new sharper-shifting eight-speed automatic and revised suspension designs, though it’s the top dog that fits the all-singing-and-dancing air suspension as standard.
New trim and a 918-inspired wheel are obvious changes to a cabin that’s well crafted and richly appointed, though with a distracting assault of push-button fetish. It’s also suitably comfortable, though not airy in ambience. From the driver’s seat, though, sensing its external extremities is tricky when both parking and punting.
Despite the claim, it’s no sports car by traditional measure. On a twisty road, it’s tricky to place, the steering is clear but lacks load-up feedback, it’s agile only within the limits of its strident grip and you’d be foolhardy to push beyond. It ticks the right boxes for prestige, luxury and performance pace, but has ‘driver enjoyment’ well down on its priority list.
That said, the Cayenne remains perhaps the most enjoyable punt of the otherwise lethargic and bloated large-SUV breed. And 15 years on, new tweaks leave Porsche’s most important (business) model feeling suitably evergreen.
4 out of 5 stars
Engine: 4806cc V8, DOHC, 24v twin-turbo
Power: 382kW at 6000rpm
Torque: 750Nm at 2250-4000rpm
0-100km/h: 4.5sec (claimed)