Porsche Cayenne Diesel S facelift (2014) review



It’s eight years since the Cayenne first shocked Porschephiles when it arrived on the scene – but sales have proved that Porsche’s gamble has paid off. 

The first-generation Porsche Cayenne sold around 276,000 examples, and since 2010’s Cayenne Mk2 arrived Porsche’s Liepzig factory has seen more than 303,000 second-generation SUVs sail out of its doors.

So it’s clearly not broken – and therefore Porsche hasn’t deemed much remedial surgery necessary to fix it. Read on for our Porsche Cayenne 2014 facelift review. 

So what’s changed on the 2015 Porsche Cayenne?

Buoyed by the success of the smaller Macan SUV, Porsche has clearly shared some of its wardrobe with the larger crossover. Bonnet shutlines are pushed out towards the wings, front bumper intakes sport Macan-alike strakes and the tail lights are said to ape – not entirely successfully in our opinion – that car’s delicately detailed 3D lamps.

Buyers more concerned with money than taste can now add a two-tone black and luxor beige leather to the spec sheet, along with a new dark burr walnut trim to finish it off. Of more importance is the 918-inspired steering wheel, cosmetically identical to the Macan’s three-spoke rim but slightly heavier to suit the Cayenne’s hydraulic, rather than electric, steering.

Engineering changes are limited, though across the board all models gain power and drop consumption, and the suspension bushes have been tweaked for greater comfort. The Cayenne S gets a tweaked version of the Macan Turbo’s 3.6-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol with 414bhp and 406lb ft, but when it costs just £1000 less than the 380bhp and 627lb ft Diesel S, it’s obvious why it doesn’t win the majority of UK sales. Around 80% of UK Cayennes are diesel-powered.

Sorry, did you say 627lb ft? In a Cayenne?

Yes, if ever there was a car the ‘stump-pulling’ cliché was invented for then you’re looking at it. The Cayenne Diesel S produces such a prodigious figure from just 2000rpm. The fact this hefty two-tonne SUV promises up to 35.3mpg as well is mind-boggling, such is the performance offered.

Linked to an eight-speed automatic gearbox with traditional torque-converter, the Cayenne Diesel S will grunt, for grunt is the word, from 0-62mph in just 5.3 seconds (5.4sec without the Sport Chrono pack). And the Cayenne will continue hurling its 2.2-tonne silhouette towards the horizon until it reaches 157mph, all the while emitting a deep-chested, eight-cylinder rumble more muscle car than miserly fuel-sipper.

Lag-free, the twin-turbo V8 is a fantastic engine, offering unrelenting acceleration that is only amplified and exaggerated by its sheer bulk and weight should your right foot require it.

But while most Cayennes will furrow Chelsea roads or jostle for wing mirror width outside private schools, anyone enthusiastic enough to carve up corner apexes might just be blown away by its abilities.

Slow in and fast out, just like a 911, is the cornering stance the S Diesel requires; you’ll relish the grip from the front axle, worry for a nanosecond about turn-in bodyroll, then delight in the cheeky wag of the tail on power exit. Switch the electronic stability systems off and you’re in a gargantuan go-kart with real cornering swagger.

Park your prejudice to one side, and the Cayenne is still our favourite SUV to punt along a back road.

Anything else worth knowing about the revised Cayenne?

The Diesel and S-E Hybrid have come under scrutiny too, the latter priced the same as this S Diesel, but with lower emissions and lower fuel economy; it all depends what your priorities, and intended uses, are.

Verdict

Even the sternest critics of Porsche must surely recognise what the Cayenne has done for the business. In 2013, it sold 84,000 of them – more than half the company’s total car production. It could be argued this mid-life tweakery is rather unnecessary, but 2014’s facelift has endowed the Cayenne with a better-looking style, more equipment, and performance and efficiency gains.

A statement that rings true for the S Diesel especially; nearly as quick as the Caeynne Turbo, far cheaper to run, equally refined, with a larger range and just as sharp to drive (but £32,289 cheaper), it’s this twin-turbo diesel V8 that’s the most captivating Cayenne sold in the UK.