/ 19 November 2023

The Cayenne just got spicier

283028000704103 Min
The exterior of the Porsche Cayenne S Coupé has been updated but the interior also received a revamp.

Going back to recount your steps is a gift, not a curse. It gives you a chance to look back, sit up, and take stock of what has gone before. 

Going back to the drawing board to reassess is an adage commonly bandied about. 

And for a manufacturer to admit, in no uncertain terms, that it has taken the wrong direction due to legislative pressures, and be mature enough to listen to customer demand and align its product offering to that, is something I greatly admire.

Porsche is one such company. After its disappointing move to a V6 twin-turbo engine layout in both its S and GTS Cayenne models in recent years, the Stuttgart brand has found it prudent to return to form by reintroducing the V8 engines. 

It did this first in the GTS and most recently in the S models, one of which is the subject of this review. 

It is indeed a good move to put a burbling V8 back into the Cayenne S, because it adds a layer of performance befitting a premium-performance SUV. For the Cayenne to remain significant, it has to match its rivals on every level and that includes powertrains.

But before we delve into the oily bits, it is also good to point out that the Cayenne has received some cosmetic updates — minute for the most part — but updates nonetheless. 

These include a revamped front valance with a squared-off, jaw-like design and redesigned headlights. 

The rear sees the P-O-R-S-C-H-E lettering strewn across the boot lid under a plexiglass cover — very neat — and the numberplate recess has been given a makeover.

The cabin arguably got the most updates, thanks to the Taycan-inspired dash that sees a new infotainment screen and instrument cluster, while the gear lever is now located on the drop-down console just to the left of the steering wheel column in the interests of using space more efficiently.

Overall, it is a clean, minimalist design that doesn’t detract from the premium ambiance but rather adds slivers of classy modernity to the painstaking German precision and functionality on offer. 

Everything is where you expect it to be, breeding a sense of familiarity, just like that trusty pair of moccasin loafers contoured to the shape of your foot. 


Of course, being a Porsche, there’s a great deal to glean from getting behind the steering wheel. So, find a comfortable position, crank up the V8 engine, and the bark from the sports exhaust is enough to quicken your pulse rate. It is a rorty-sounding thing that burbles and crackles in equal measure — and this is before you start fiddling with the drive modes. 

On test here is the Coupé variant, replete with the sloping rear roof line that has become the rage among style-conscious buyers looking for something, well, a tad unique.

The 4.0-litre V8 turbo engine is no stranger, as it does duty in many of the VW Group’s products, to great effect. Pushing out 349kW and 600Nm via an 8-speed automatic transmission, there’s more than enough performance for daily trudges but also enough poke to exploit the chassis and keep the driver fairly engaged. 

Much like the insanely capable Turbo GT flagship model we drove last year, the latest Cayenne S manages to mimic its more powerful sibling in the dynamic stakes.

Thanks to PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management), the Cayenne’s body roll mitigation is one of the best in the business, helping this towering SUV to corner with the verve of a diminutive sports car, leaving you stupefied by its physics-defying abilities. 

Traction from the massive 315/35/21 rear tyres is prodigious, while the 285/40/21s upfront offer great front-end grip and steering feedback alike. 

As a sporty SUV, the Cayenne S delivers handsomely on this front, but it also delivers on the other end of the spectrum, offering a supple ride quality, despite the large, low-profile tyres. This, again, points back to the PASM system, which has resolutely rendered the correlation between low-profile tyres and brittle ride quality obsolete.

Once reserved for the GTS and above, the Cayenne now offers a more accessible entry point for those seeking V8 excitement. 

The Cayenne S is the sweet spot in the range, with all the quality attributes that make this a well-polished package with contemporary tech updates and cabin appointments. 

The fact that you can have a V8 powertrain in the S models places the Cayenne, once again, on the top shelf of premium SUV offerings. 

Not convinced? Well, the proof of the pudding remains in the eating. Just remember to tick the optional sports exhaust option!