Review and road test of the Porsche Cayenne (2007 - 2010)
FRESHLY CROWNED PEPPER
By Steve Walker
The wailing and grinding of teeth had all but subsided by the time Porsche facelifted its Cayenne SUV in 2007. The people who saw the car as a giant blot on the pristine landscape of Porsche's sportscar heritage still weren't happy but they had been forced to accept that the blot had become a giant commercial success. In order to keep its cash cow current in the face of competition from the Range Rover, BMW X5 and Mercedes M-Class, Porsche brought in a thorough programme of revisions. Here we're looking at the post-facelift cars from the perspective of a used buyer.
(5 dr luxury 4x4 3.6, 4.8 petrol, 3.0 diesel [Cayenne, S, Turbo, Turbo S, GTS])
The Cayenne was originally launched in 2002 and the all-new second generation car was taking up vast expanses of Porsche showroom space by 2010. These two dates aside, it's the occasion of the 2007 facelift that is of peak importance in the Cayenne's lifecycle. Revised engines, sharper styling and new technology were brought in to up the competiveness of the Cayenne in a cutthroat luxury SUV sector.
Since its launch, the big Porsche's job had been made more difficult by the arrival of the Volkswagen Touareg in 2003 and Audi's Q7 in 2006. Both cars were based on very similar underpinnings to the Cayenne and the 2007 modifications were targeted to keep it a few steps ahead.
The facelifted cars arrived in 2007 with the entry-level 3.2-litre V6 petrol engine upgraded to 3.6-litres and the 4.5-litre V8 that powered the S models and the Turbo with the help of forced induction was upped to a 4.8-litre capacity. The runny-egg headlights that the Cayenne shared with the 996 Porsche 911 were shelved in favour of pointier units with more of a malevolent gaze.
The GTS variant was launched in 2008 featuring steel springs and electronically-controlled dampers for a sportier drive on the road. Even more salient was the arrival of the 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine in 2009. The idea of a diesel Porsche further infuriated the purists but it enabled the Cayenne to compete directly at the lower end on the luxury 4x4 sector where diesel was the default choice for buyers with a little less cash to throw around.
What You Get
Perhaps Porsche tried a little too hard with the original Cayenne to ally it to the design ethos that had worked so successfully with the 911. As a 'sports ute' it looked rather odd, and became more ungainly the paler the colour it was specified in. The facelifted models made amends, giving the Cayenne a front end look all of its own. Where the 997 series 911 went back to round headlamps, the Cayenne received more feline looking projector beam lights and a grille that was less ungainly than before. This not only looked the part but also significantly improved cooling.
The wheel arches are more clearly defined and every facelifted Cayenne model was fitted with a rear diffuser and a roof-mounted spoiler. As before, there was plenty of space inside, although if you really want a 4x4 capable of carrying a big family, there are more capacious and versatile options. The build quality of much of the switchgear was improved and Porsche also revised the materials used for the seating.
What to Look For
The Cayenne is, somewhat unsurprisingly, a seriously rugged piece of kit and owners have reportedly been very satisfied with the reliability and quality of the car. As with all 4x4s, check for damage caused by over enthusiastic off-roading (unlikely with a Cayenne), the alloy wheels being particularly vulnerable if fitted with road-biased low profile tyres. The differentials are very tough as are the engines. Check for kiddie damage in the back and check for panel fit and body alignment but otherwise it's tricky to get things badly wrong. Cayennes are quite colour sensitive and silver and black will be easier to shift than more lurid colours. Don't entertain buyers trying to reclaim the cost of expensive options fitted to the car.
(Estimated prices, based on a 2007 Cayenne S) You may need to have a cup of tea and a sit down should you break one of the Cayenne's xenon headlamps as a replacement is around £750. The conventional halogen unit is around £450. Front and rear exhaust boxes will be around £1,800 and a front brake disc will be a round £130. A starter motor retails at around £650.
On the Road
From its inception, the Cayenne always appealed to buyers looking for a sharper, more sporting drive from their 4x4. Despite this, it's always been extremely good off road, as long as you don't mind exposing those big alloy wheels to a bit of a pranging. The facelifted Cayenne aimed to improve on-road driveability significantly, thanks in no small part to the option of Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDDC). This system stabilises roll during cornering and is offered as an option on all models. The result on the road is better handling and agility plus greater directional stability and ride comfort. When off-roading, owners will notice better axle articulation.
Engine-wise, the entry-level V6 was uprated from 3.2 to 3.6 litres. It gained direct injection technology as well and power increased to 287bhp, dropping the 0-60mph time down to a mere 7.8 seconds. Direct injection and VarioCam Plus valve control were added to the eight-cylinder Cayenne S, giving it a 45bhp shot in the arm. This mainstay of the Cayenne line up achieves a 385bhp wallop.
For those who really want some muscle, there's the 405bhp GTS or, even better, the 500bhp Turbo (that's the 4.8-litre V8 engine plus twin turbochargers) which will hit 60mph in 4.8 seconds and keep going until aerodynamics call a halt at 171mph. Porsche Traction Management (PTM) can direct up to 100 per cent of drive to the front or rear wheels if necessary.
When Porsche finally bit the bullet and fitted a diesel engine to the Cayenne, anyone aware of a committed Porsche fan living in their area may have felt obliged to pop round with some grapes and Lucozade, just to make sure they were bearing up OK at such a very difficult time. Despite being spectacularly un-Porsche, the 3.0-litre V6 TDI Cayenne is a good one. There's 240bhp and a hefty 550Nm or torque, so it isn't slow and combined cycle economy of 30mpg is way better than the 22mpg of the entry-level petrol model. Just imagine what you get from the Turbo.
If you like the original Cayenne, you'll probably love the facelifted versions. In truth, the appeal is much the same, albeit with evolutionary improvements to the styling, the engines and to the handling. With BMW's X5, it's the best handling luxury SUV and the models with Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control gain an even greater depth of talent. The Porsche badge helps used values hold firm and there's a plentiful supply of them about, which evidences their popularity. It's not the most subtle motorcar but there isn't a lot it can't do.
Porsche Cayenne (2007 - 2010) review by Steve Walker