CAN a car be more than one thing? In the case of the 2019 Porsche Cayenne, it is. This sport utility vehicle (SUV) has plenty of sport, a lot of utility, and is one hell of a vehicle.
In three generations, the Cayenne has gone from ugly duckling to the belle of the ball, so much so that the other Porsche models are wearing its design language. It claims the swoopy curves and forward styling of its heritage. Around back, the rear lights form a single, thin, light strip that sweeps completely across the bodywork topped off by a 3D Porsche logo — a signature, now standard, on all current Porsches. On the high-gloss, black 21-inch Porsche Exclusive wheels, the Cayenne gains an aggressive performance stance.
Open any of the four doors, with keyless entry, step over the stainless steel sill guards and sit in the leather-covered, Porsche crest embossed 14-way powered ‘thrones’ will electronically slide away in conjunction with the steering wheel to aid ingress and egress. Once positioned, drivers can enjoy the fact that every surface is covered in leather accentuated by high-quality piano black trim and light metal accents. Slide back the large panoramic roof and the full opulence of the interior is revealed by the incoming sunlight. Inside is the juxtaposition of old school luxury, like the analogue clock of the Sport Chrono package, and futuristic design of the all-black centre control panel which looks like the deck of the Starship Enterprise.
Buttons are few and far between. Press the text on the console to activate the necessary feature or reach across to the massive 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen. Like the seats, it preempts the driver, sensing when one’s fingers are near bringing up contextual or menus hidden away to reduce clutter. Some functions are mirrored in the dual screens around the traditional Porsche centre tachometer in the instrument cluster. These can be operated with the steering wheel mounted controls, otherwise touch the crystal clear and responsive screen to do everything from direct airflow in the cabin to listening to connected audio through the 10-speaker BOSE stereo, to dealing with the various drive modes of the vehicle, to providing a live feed for the 360 degree camera system. Practicality isn’t forgotten as the Cayenne is the bastion of storage and usefulness. Cup holders, a felt-lined glove box, 40/20/40 split folding rear seats, a power rear tailgate, USB ports and 12v sockets means cargo, human or otherwise, will be more than satiated, especially given the high level of cabin refinement.
The only thing better than sitting in the Cayenne is driving it. There’s no comfort mode and no need for it as in default NORMAL mode is cosseting enough, providing a near air-tight motoring experience from the outside world over anything, but the roughest road conditions. Still this is Porsche, and the famous sports car maker’s DNA is deep in the Cayenne. Whether you turn the drive mode sector on the steering wheel to SPORT, or select it from the infotainment system the Cayenne gets the blood pumping. The turbocharged V6 delivers its 340bhp in typical European manner — a smooth rapid linear sense of acceleration to the upper reaches of the tachometer. Stomp on the massive brakes and it generates enough stopping force to have the theoretical rear passengers spill hypothetical champagne from their flutes. Late for a meeting? Hit the Sports Response button for 20 seconds of maximum aggression. In the corners, the suspension works well with the all-wheel drive and various electronic driver assist systems to bend the laws of physics for a vehicle of this size and weight.
The Cayenne is a sports car wrapped up in the practical shell of a SUV, filled with luxury and technology. It’s just as fun doing the school run as it is running from school.