It’s since won respect for pushing the performance SUV envelope, though the entry-level petrol V6 was something of a cynical exercise aimed at drawing people to showrooms, to be sold up.
But its similarly-priced diesel sibling is a different proposition.
It gets a 3.0-litre V6 that delivers 176kW and, more important, 500Nm of torque peaking at just 2000rpm. When mated to the Tiptronic auto it packs a massive punch, taking the over two-ton SUV from zero to 100 in 8.3 seconds.
That acceleration time is achieved in part because the car switches the alternator and air conditioning compressor off during acceleration.
Yes, performance from an SUV – and fortunately the Cayenne handles better than most of the breed, though fuel economy suffers despite an auto that’ll change to neutral when you stop on the flat. Porsche claims 9.3l/100km, I was getting 13.2 after some admittedly spirited drives.
Our test Cayenne includes a few useful features as standard, like a tow rating of 3.5 tons and a standard-fit detachable tow ball, but it also came with optional extras that lift the $136,000 starting price. Those gorgeous 21-inch wheels and arch extensions add $7800, the front seat heaters $1210, the alloy roof and drip rails $1850 and so on, the total price upped to $148,835.
It could be worse – overseas this metallic paint, the leather, the multifunction wheel, ski bag and tow hitch would all cost extra.
You’re paying a lot for an entry-level Porsche, complete with all the cred attached to the badge. Still, the sports cars that best embody the brand’s DNA are pricey and impractical, while the V6 petrol Cayenne lacks performance.
This diesel delivers an entry point to the brand in a practical vehicle with plenty of performance punch thanks to the engine’s torque delivery.
See full specifications and compare the Porsche Cayenne to other models here.