The Porsche Cayenne finally seems to be having its day in the sun. Early models are coveted by overlanders, rare specs are desired by full-fledged Porsche collectors, and it feels like enthusiasts are finally appreciating Porsche’s moonshot SUV. The debut of the updated 2024 Porsche Cayenne couldn’t have come at a better time, and a litany of tweaks including the return of a V8 engine to S models could make this the best Cayenne ever. [Editor’s Note: Without a stickshift, this is impossible. -DT].
As with most Porsche updates, it feels like the Cayenne’s styling has been tightened up a touch. The front fenders feature massaged arches, the new hood looks crisper, and the front fascia now features plenty of horizontal elements to emphasize width. Weirdly, I’m seeing a bit of facelifted original Cayenne in the front fascia of this new one, be it the two spars across each outer grille, or the more horizontal headlight form. Speaking of headlights, Matrix LED headlights are now standard with two modules and more than 32,000 pixels per headlight. Presumably, the active-dimming matrix function of these headlights is disabled in America, but should be functional in Canada due to differing headlight laws.
Around the back, a slimmed-out full-width taillight treatment features sharper creases that tie in well with the current 911, while a subtly updated lower valence now features a license plate holder in the bumper. This paved the way for the hatch to be shaved for a cleaner look, which I can certainly appreciate. However, the exterior revisions to the new Cayenne are subtle enough to belie the sheer extent of changes under the skin.
Let’s start in the motive power department, where the Cayenne gets a few significant changes. Porsche often produces power levels to suit everyone, so it shouldn’t be surprising to see a 302-horsepower spread between the least-powerful and most-powerful Cayenne models. The base Cayenne gets a turbocharged three-liter V6 with 348 horsepower and 368 lb.-ft. of torque — perfectly sufficient figures.
The Cayenne E-Hybrid plug-in hybrid adds a battery pack and an electric motor to that V6 for a combined output of 463 horsepower and potential for some seriously usable electric range. For context, the old car went between somewhere between 14 and 16 miles on a battery pack with a gross capacity of 17.9 kWh, but this new pack clocks in around 25.9 kWh. It might even be able to whisk you to Whole Foods and back.
Steamed plug-in hybrid broccoli is lovely every so often, but sometimes you just crave the steak of a dirty great V8, and that’s exactly what the Cayenne S is serving up. Goodbye previous-model’s 2.9-liter turbocharged V6 from the Audi RS5 and hello four-liter twin-turbocharged V8 serving up 468 horsepower and 442 lb.-ft. of torque.
While I doubt it will sound quite as off-the-chain as the 4.8-liter naturally-aspirated V8 in the late-aughts Cayenne GTS, this four-liter unit should still writhe and bellow like a V8 should. Considering it a beating heart good for zero-to-60 in a claimed 4.4 seconds with the Sport Chrono pack.
Oh, but the range doesn’t end there. There’s no new Cayenne Turbo or Turbo S yet, nor an S E-Hybrid, but the insane Turbo GT is back and re-loaded to assert super-SUV rule. Its twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 cranks out 650 horsepower, is claimed to do the zero-to-60 dash in 3.1 seconds, and doesn’t seem terribly worried about stepping on the Lamborghini Urus Performante’s toes. It’s a measly single kilometer-per-hour slower in the top end than the school run bull, and it ties with the Lambo off the line.
Of course, straight-line speed is but one facet of the Cayenne. It’s always had a reputation for driving like a much smaller, much lighter vehicle, and Porsche doesn’t seem to be resting on its laurels here. Computer-controlled dampers are now standard across all models, and they feature separate rebound and compression damping that promises an even more sorted ride and reduced roll. Steel springs come standard and are likely the choice for long-term ownership, but if you believe more is more, updated air suspension is on the menu. Oh, and the base wheels grow to 20 inches in diameter from 19, a small difference but one that could make the Cayenne slightly sharper due to tire changes.
As expected, the Cayenne continues to be available in both traditional SUV and coupe SUV forms, but the latter has a few optional perks to make up for the decrease in practicality. Porsche claims that a series of optional lightweight packages can save up to 72 pounds, which isn’t much in a large SUV but should sound very impressive on a spec sheet.
Perhaps the biggest shock is on the inside. Certain corners of the internet were aghast when Porsche announced it would ditch the analog tachometer with this revised Cayenne. The question is: Do we all just have very short memories? The Taycan doesn’t feature analog dials because they don’t make any sense at all in that car, while the original Cayenne was the first Porsche in ages to not put a tachometer smack-dab in the center of the gauge cluster. As such, owners of the new Cayenne should be content with the 12.6-inch screen because who’s honestly working the paddles in traffic?
If you still wish to bemoan the loss of a physical tach, I’d recommend re-focusing on this good news: Physical buttons are back, baby. In contrast to the sleek but flawed everything-on-a-screen interior of the Taycan, the new Cayenne uses switches, buttons, knobs, and scrolling wheels to offer intuitive physical interaction with important things like the cabin temperature, window switches, and stereo volume. It’s a more human way of using technology than virtual controls, and it shows that Porsche recognizes the premium feel of good physical controls. However, that’s not to say that screen use has been minimized – there’s still a 12.3-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard, and front passengers can take advantage of their own optional 10.9-inch screen for entertainment.
Even on relatively basic lease-spec models, standard equipment is up. In addition to the aforementioned fancy headlights, electronic damping and 20-inch wheels, all Cayennes now get proximity key entry, wireless phone charging, blind-spot monitoring, and lane keep assistance. That’s not a huge additional feature set, but everything on that list should make life a little bit easier.
Of course, the new Cayenne having more of everything also means it’ll take more dollars to buy one. Pricing for the base model starts at $80,850 including a $1,650 freight charge, rising to $93,350 for the E-Hybrid, $97,350 for the Cayenne S, and $197,950 for the Turbo GT. That’s a base price $7,200 higher than the current model, but it’s not quite that simple. Add all the toys you get as standard in the new car to the old one, and you’re looking at a price tag of $82,210. Porsche charging less for more instead of more for less? Has hell frozen over or something?
In summation, the 2024 Porsche Cayenne still looks like the SUV to have if you’re a keen driver but still need to tow every so often. I like the added features, I like the return of the V8 to the S trim, and I like that the new interior still uses physical controls. If you’re still warming to the styling, just give it time. The original Cayenne was a minger when it came out but now looks pretty alright. Expect the new Cayennes to hit dealer lots this summer, although order books are open now if you’re particularly keen.
(Photo credits: Porsche)
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