The new E3 Porsche Cayenne is the best ever of its kind however its competition has never been fiercer.
I practically feel guilty saying that the new Porsche Cayenne no longer sits at the very top of the luxury midsize SUV segment. To be precise, it still resides on the top shelf however the Mercedes-Benz GLE, Audi Q8 and BMW X5 now share the same space.
On the hot seat in front of the camera
I took a long while and a number of takes for me to get my video review on the 2019 Porsche Cayenne right. I agree the video’s still beyond amateurish but it does demonstrate that I had a hard time choosing the right way to review the Cayenne. In the end however, claiming that it is now a luxury SUV with a Porsche badge compared to the once Porsche of SUVs is, in my opinion, an adequate description of the vehicle.
If it seems as though I’m making excuses for the Porsche Cayenne, I’ll admit that I am in fact softening the review. I’m willingly doing this because Porsche fans, all driving enthusiasts and Porschephiles owe a great deal to the Cayenne. We all know that this SUV saved the sports car company just over 20 years ago.
In this period of time, its evolution has been staggering. Performance, refinement, styling, and offered technologies have never been greater, more complete and sophisticated. The competition’s evolution has done the same. In fact, with the desire to appeal to a larger audience, Porsche itself helped narrow and, in certain respects, close the gap.
This cautionary approach to reviewing the 2019 Porsche Cayenne S stems from the fact that the BMX X5, Mercedes GLE (ML) and others were never as aspirational as the Cayenne. At one point, the brand and the vehicle carried it to the top – there was no alternative. Now, and depending on how you feel about the Porsche logo, a 2019 BMW X5 xDrive40i is no compromise. It’s not that much cheaper however so the competition has given up some value but OEMs are in it to make money and, apparently, we’re more than willing to pay.
The Cayenne S
The new Porsche Cayenne S may very well be the better balanced of the Cayenne line-up but its pricing slots between those who absolutely want one (roughly 60% of all Cayennes sold are base models) for under $80,000 and the ones that want the Cayenne, the Turbo, and well spend easily $150,000 for one. My tester with rear axle steering, 21-inch wheels, Premium Pus package and more topped out at just over $123,000.
At $94,100, the 2019 Porsche Cayenne S is powered by the VAG’s impressive twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6. This mill, also found in the likes of the Audi RS 5, produces 434-horsepower from 5,700-6,600 rpm and 406 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,800-5,500 rpm. With the standard 8-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission and Active AWD system, the non-Sport Chrono version will smack 100 km/h in 5.2 seconds. Chop 0.3 seconds with.
Once the mild electronic throttle delay is overcome, this 5-meter long, 4,500 lb. luxury SUV launches with incredible force. And while the Cayenne S is perfectly at ease crushing the Autobahn at 265 km/h, the new E3 feels designed for our urban jungles.
The road still bows to the Cayenne
The most impressive options on my tester are designed for performance but given our semi-strict 100 km/h speed limits, they turn out to be fabulous allies in town. What are they? Two absolute musts.
Porsche’s rear axle steering is an amazing tool. It not only shrinks the Cayenne’s turning radius but increases steering (aided by Power Steering Plus). To put simply, it transforms the Cayenne with Macan-like nimbleness and agility. The other element is the adaptive air suspension with included Porsche Active Suspension Management. Most air-suspension systems endow their host vehicles with appreciable levels of handling and comfort but few match the Cayenne’s absolute spectrum of possibilities.
So flexible and compliant is the suspension’s calibration that the normal setting turns out to be almost too soft for daily driving. In a way, this extra travel makes for a great off-road vehicle. On that subject, the suspension has an off-road ride height for maximum ground clearance. In sport, the damping is ideal even for rougher surfaces and spirited driving is supported by a sport+ setting.
Luxury, tech and one problem
On board, the 2019 Porsche Cayenne S is replete with wonderful material, textures and surfaces, with one exception. Although attractive and modern-looking, the center-console’s piano-black luster finish is completely blinding when the sun hits it. Otherwise, the 12-inch touchscreen, as part of the Porsche Communication Management (PCM), is superior in response and user-friendliness. Porsche Connect features prominently and through this one app, it provides services such as remote access to your vehicle and navigation.
As expected with any Porsche, the seats are immensely supportive and comfortable. The rear seat was completely revised for this third generation Cayenne. Despite their sportier design, they remain comfortable and perfectly suited for baby seats. The bench can accommodate three adults across with ease. The 770-litre boot is capacious and capable.
The takeaway is that there’s still no being disappointed by purchasing a Porsche Cayenne. Its standing in luxury SUVs circles is un-phased it’s just that it’s got less elbow room at the top than it once had.