Porsche Cayenne: 20 years on and it still won't slow down

The supercar SUV might be entering its third decade, but the latest models show no signs of age-related wear-and-tear

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When Porsche first introduced the Cayenne to the world, questions were asked about whether there was any appetite for an SUV produced by a manufacturer more associated with the kind of vehicles that are so fast they're capable of loosening drain covers.

Over the years, the answer to that question has, of course, been answered, with Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Jaguar, even Rolls-Royce… the list goes on… all getting in on the act since the German supercar 4x4 first appeared.

The most recent of the bunch is Lotus, a manufacturer whose founder, Colin Chapman, said the brand’s whole attitude to design could be summed up in the instruction to “simplify, then add lightness”.

If even Lotus is on the case, there is a market for such vehicles, and it’s a hefty one.

As if to underline the fact, the Cayenne is now celebrating 20 years on (and, indeed, off) the tarmac, and Porsche shows no signs of discontinuing its manufacture. And nor should it as the model is very much a worthy part of the brand's line-up.

The Cayenne GTS Coupe is positioned between the S and Turbo models in the brand's food chain and it has been designed for especially sporty driving performance.

Engine: 4-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: 8-speed auto
Power: 470hp, 338kW
Torque: 620Nm
Price: From Dh491,500 (estimate)
On sale: now

And you definitely get that. A lot of big, posh SUVs these days are nifty movers, but the Cayenne most assuredly doesn't disappoint in the speed and power department.

In much the same way some proper sports cars do, the GTS goads you into putting your foot down, seemingly purring at you not to mistake it for one of those bulkier charabancs that might prove an embarrassment when sedately setting off after the lights go green.

It feels just a little bit brazen too — the GTS will reach 100 kilometres per hour from a standing start in 4.5 seconds, prompting you to forget fairly quickly you’re in a vehicle designed to cart many passengers and cargo around.

Something else worth mentioning is the addition of a sports exhaust system, which basically means you get a growl around the cabin when you start the car up or floor it. It's all very emotive.

Speedy? Oh yes.

The GTS Coupe has a swept-back look, which is now a common feature among a lot of the racier big rides on the market. It's all very lovely inside, too.

Tech comes in the shape of the Porsche Communication Management, which acts as the control centre for audio, navigation and communication. As well as a full-HD 12.3-inch touchscreen display, the system also features various interfaces, a voice-control system and online connection.

There are some minor irritations — turning the engine on and off is needlessly complicated (one assumes the designers wanted to give the feel of starting a jet fighter, maybe). This is only one example, but there are other elements that seem needlessly complex.

These are indeed small complaints compared to the quality of the rest of the ride, however. Despite the attempts at producing an old-school SUV, the Cayenne is sophisticated and fun to drive (and be driven) around in.

This would not be the only vehicle of its type that feels more like a sports car than a people carrier when you get out on the road, but it's always special when a manufacturer manages to achieve this. Frankly, the Cayenne does it as well as any.

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Updated: October 02, 2022, 11:02 AM

Engine: 4-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: 8-speed auto
Power: 470hp, 338kW
Torque: 620Nm
Price: From Dh491,500 (estimate)
On sale: now

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