2015 Porsche Cayenne S front 3/4 view
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
2015 Porsche Cayenne S rear 3/4 view
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
2015 Porsche Cayenne S front 3/4 view
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
2015 Porsche Cayenne S rear 3/4 view
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
2015 Porsche Cayenne S side view
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2015 Porsche Cayenne S front view
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
2015 Porsche Cayenne S rear view
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2015 Porsche Cayenne S headlight
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2015 Porsche Cayenne S headlight
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2015 Porsche Cayenne S wheel
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2015 Porsche Cayenne S taillight
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2015 Porsche Cayenne S exhaust tips
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2015 Porsche Cayenne S engine
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2015 Porsche Cayenne S engine detail
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2015 Porsche Cayenne S interior
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2015 Porsche Cayenne S interior
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
2015 Porsche Cayenne S interior
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
2015 Porsche Cayenne S front seats
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2015 Porsche Cayenne S rear seats
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2015 Porsche Cayenne S steering wheel
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2015 Porsche Cayenne S paddle shifter
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2015 Porsche Cayenne S gauges
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2015 Porsche Cayenne S center console
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2015 Porsche Cayenne S center console
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2015 Porsche Cayenne S drive mode controls
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2015 Porsche Cayenne S seat controls
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2015 Porsche Cayenne S door
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  •   Engine
    Twin-Turbo 3.6L V6
  •   Power
    420 HP / 406 LB-FT
  •   Transmission
    8-Speed Automatic
  •   0-60 Time
    5.1 Seconds
  •   Top Speed
    161 MPH
  •   Drivetrain
    All-Wheel Drive
  •   Engine Placement
    Front
  •   Curb Weight
    4,597 LBS
  •   Seating
    2+3
  •   Cargo
    62.9 CU-FT (max)
  •   MPG
    17 City / 24 HWY
  •   Base Price
    $74,800
  •   As Tested Price
    $104,135
There are sporty SUVs, but until the Macan came along, the Porsche Cayenne was arguably the only pure definition of a 'sports SUV, à la sports car. The second-generation Cayenne is now five years old, but still looks fresh. It's handsome without obvious effort, especially with the optional 21-inch 911 Turbo wheels.

The Cayenne S replaces the old, 400-horsepower, 4.8-liter V8 with the brand-new, Porsche-developed 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6. This engine is quickly proliferating through the range – it powers the current Panamera S and the Macan Turbo. That former 4.8-liter started life as a 4.5-liter with 350 horsepower way back in 2002, specifically developed for the Cayenne, and to the end it remained a potent engine. We tried the new forced-induction V6 with 420 hp earlier this year in the Panamera S, and other than a soggy exhaust note it maintained the character of the former V8 sport sedan, with lusty power and hasty delivery. So, how's it do in the Cayenne?

Driving Notes

  • The Cayenne S version of the TT V6 gets 420 hp and 406 pound-feet of torque. That means there's 37 more lb-ft than the previous V8, and 22 more lb-ft than in the new Panamera S. Yet the 607-pound difference in curb weight between the Panamera and Cayenne means the V6 has a heavier load to lift here. And it shows – the instant response is dulled.
  • Stomping the right foot gets the eight-speed transmission rappelling through gears to provide a little kick, but real gumption doesn't come until the turbos kick in. We're maybe talking about a second of pause compared to the Panamera, but a noticeable second. Perhaps a small price to pay for slightly better fuel economy, if you really care about such in your 420-hp SUV.
  • Part of why we notice that second is that the Cayenne S is so right-now everywhere else that any perceived hesitation gets extra attention. It offers a specific adjustability that many sports cars don't have, with one button adjusting the three-mode air suspension and a separate Sport button tweaking the steering, throttle, gear changes, and traction control.
  • With Sport keeping all the horses at the ready and the optional Porsche Torque Vectoring holding things steady, you don't need to step up to the GTS trim to get immediate acceleration, crisp steering, flat cornering at very un-SUV-like speeds, and tremendous stopping power from a total of 20 brake pistons.
  • That said, the exhaust note here could also use a shot of Bruce Banner's gamma rays.
  • Red cabins generally turn me off – it's too much like the insides of the cows that provided the leather, and more than a little "Redrum." But the cabin in the Cayenne S tester earned a pass for reasons I can't define; it is seductively built and detailed, and let's be honest, it's nicer than you'll find in most versions of the 911 including the Turbo S. Even the steering wheel is beautiful, and the rim has a planed face that we've never encountered before. The gorgeous seats required practiced technique for climbing over so that we weren't impaled on the impressive bolsters.
  • But wow, that's a lot of buttons on the center console. Sit in the back seat, lean over to view the forward cabin, and your first thought will probably be, "I wonder if the captain will give me a tour of the cockpit." It's pretty, but it's busy. We memorized the location of the five buttons we actually used and ignored the rest after pressing them all exactly once.
The Panamera S' price went up about $1,900 when it ditched the V8, but the Cayenne S has gone up by a robust $8,000, to $74,800. Sure, there's a touch of extra standard equipment in the mix like bi-xenon headlights, but the real justification is to put room between it and the Macan; the 400-hp Macan Turbo starts at $73,900. The price leap and the baby SUV's arrival could explain why Cayenne sales are down by 13 percent through the first four months of this year, but the Cayenne is still the best-selling Porsche on dealer lots and we won't be surprised if it stays that way. For those who want a sports car that's an SUV, the Cayenne range shares the top of the mountain only with its little brother.

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