LOS ANGELES, CA
– After twenty-plus years and three generations, the Cayenne SUV has firmly entrenched itself as the nameplate that keeps the lights on at Porsche. It is the Stuttgart automaker’s most important car and there are few who would disagree. Even Porsche purists see which way the wind is blowing.
In 2022, Porsche sold more than 300,000 units worldwide and more than 95,000 of those were Cayennes. It’s a similar story in Canada, where the Cayenne’s 2,872 units sold accounted for almost one-third of the company’s sales volume last year. Lifetime, the Cayenne has sold more than 1.25 million units worldwide.
So, it’s a big deal when Porsche’s volume car receives a facelift, which is what’s in store for the 2024 Cayenne which is slated to begin arriving at Canadian dealers later this summer.
The third-gen Cayenne has been around since the 2019 model year, so it was due for some updating, and as mid-cycle refreshes go, this one is extensive.
First up, the grade walk has been reorganized into four models: Cayenne, E-hybrid, S, and Turbo GT, with the latter being offered only in the coupe body style as it was previously. The three others can be had in either SUV or coupe.
Big changes loom on the powertrain front, as well. For the base Cayenne, the 3.0-litre single turbo V6 remains, but its output has been increased to 348 horsepower and 368 lb-ft. of torque, which represents gains of 13 hp and 34 lb-ft. respectively.
Up next is the E-Hybrid PHEV, which pairs the 3.0-litre turbo V6 with an electric motor and a new 25.9-kWh high-voltage battery and produces a total output of 468 horsepower and 479 lb-ft. of torque. The former is a gain of 15 hp over the outgoing model, while the latter is 37 lb-ft. less.
An 11-kW onboard charger reduces charge times to roughly two hours and 18 minutes with a maximum electric range of between 77 and 90 kilometres. Of note, final NRCan testing figures had not been published at the time of writing.
Perhaps the biggest impact of the Cayenne’s model reorganization is for the S trim, which receives a big power boost. Unlike the outgoing model, the new S is powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 (468 hp / 442 lb-ft.), which replaces a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 (434 hp / 405 lb-ft.). Porsche says the switch to the V8 was driven to a large extent by customer feedback.
Finally, for those searching for the ultimate in Cayenne performance, there’s the Turbo GT, which is powered by the same 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 as the S, but with 650 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque
As for design changes, Porsche has used a light touch on the outside but has made sweeping changes to the cabin.
On the outside, the Cayenne receives a new power-domed hood, flatter front grille, new LED headlights, a new arched front wing and a front apron with bigger air intakes. At the rear, the Cayenne sports a new LED taillight graphic, a new apron with integrated plate holder, a redesigned tailgate and eight new wheel designs.
The headlights are especially noteworthy as Matrix LEDs are standard across the range, and HD Matrix LEDs are optional. Both use pixel technology but the latter consists of two high-definition modules and 32,000 pixels per headlight. Porsche says they can differentiate between different road users (pedestrians, cyclists, other motorists, etc.) and block the high beam with “pixel accuracy” so as not to temporarily daze them. Module brightness can also be adjusted to more than 1,000 levels that vary depending on driving conditions.
On the inside, Porsche has taken big swings with the Cayenne’s design, layout and available content. For the latter, notable changes are the adoption of a 12.6-inch curved instrument cluster display, a 12.3-inch multimedia touchscreen which houses the PCM (Porsche Communication Management), and a redesigned centre console that offers a combination of physical buttons and a touch panel for climate functions. The gear shift lever has been relocated to the dash panel left of the instrument cluster, like on the Taycan.
The ’24 Cayenne also receives a new multifunction steering wheel, engine start button, control lever for driver assistance systems, and an optional 10.9-inch Head-up Display and 10.9-inch passenger display located in the dash panel. A cooled smartphone charge pad with up to 15 watts of wireless charging is standard issue.
On the design front, the Cayenne sports a redesigned dashboard, door panels, more interior colours, redesigned air vents, and a new air quality system.
For the media drive, I spent time behind the wheel of two Cayennes: S and Turbo GT. I will note that both were European-spec pre-production units that differed in several ways from what will be available in Canada. Among the differences are a motorized trailer hitch and amber turn signals, both of which are not offered in North America. Our test vehicles also came without SiriusXM satellite radio, which is standard issue on Cayennes bound for North America.
I’ll be brief regarding styling and content updates – I like how they both modernize the Cayenne offering, without being too busy or aggressive. The interior updates make the car easier to interact with while also being attractive to look at, while the exterior changes are subtle, yet functional and feel like a natural evolution for Cayenne design.
As for the drive, I come away impressed with both cars, as I’ll explain below.
For 2024, all Cayennes come equipped with a steel spring suspension that includes Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) and new shock absorbers with two valves for separate rebound and compression. Porsche says the change was made to improve the Cayenne’s performance in all driving situations, particularly at slow speeds and in dynamic cornering. Ride quality is quite firm in all modes, but not exhausting, even on longer drives.
Both Cayenne S and Turbo GT both feel very well planted to the tarmac, with precise steering feedback, little understeer and no body lean or flexing of note. Both were also reasonably quiet during my test, with well suppressed wind and road noise, with the former rising due only to some rough roads on the drive route. I should note that was the experience in normal mode. In sport and sport plus the exhaust note, especially in the titanium exhaust-equipped Turbo GT, does get noticeably louder.
As for the engines, I’m usually fond of a big turbo V8 because of their linearity, power delivery, abundant torque and, of course, the sounds they make up and down the powerband. In both cars, Porsche’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 struck all the right notes (pun intended). From its ability to press occupants into their seat backs – 0-100 km/h in 4.7 seconds for the S, and a blinding 3.3 seconds for the Turbo GT – to its smooth linear power delivery with loads of useable torque and a delightful wail it emits when one mashes the throttle from rest, this turbo V8 really delivers a visceral experience one would expect from a Porsche engine. The smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission is also a big plus.
Yes, Porsche has confirmed the Cayenne will be offered as an EV by mid-decade, which could partly explain why the current offering is being pared back to just four grades, and seven total models. But putting the twin-turbo V8 into the S is intriguing. Perhaps the half-decade-old third generation has more time to run than its age may suggest, with a future EV model co-existing alongside a glorious V8, at least in the short term. That would be a welcome development.
2024 Porsche Cayenne pricing
Cayenne – $89,800
E-hybrid – $104,800
S – $107,500
Turbo GT – $218,300
The 2024 Porsche Cayenne is available for order now and is slated to go on sale this summer.
2024 Porsche Cayenne S
mid-size high performance premium SUV
Front-engine, all-wheel drive, 8-speed automatic transmission
3.0-litre turbo V6 (348 hp / 368 lb-ft.)
(Premium 91+) TBA
1,708 / 772 litres (60.3 / 27.2 cu ft.) (behind first / second / third row)
MAXIMUM TOWING: 7,716 pounds (3,500 kg)
$89,800 base, excl. freight, taxes, and fees