2019 Porsche Cayenne S Review
2019 Porsche Cayenne S Review By Auto Critic Steve Hammes
Porsche’s pair of SUVs outsells their cars by 3 to 1 so give them props for being the first dedicated sports car company to seriously pursue truck sales. Now, even Ferrari is about to get in the game.
Through the years I think I’ve driven every Cayenne variant available; hybrid, plug-in, diesel, Turbo S, you name it. And I’ve always come away with a healthy appreciation of its on-road performance and admired its air of exclusivity. With MSRPs nearing and sometimes crossing well into the 6 figure realm the Cayenne, like all Porsche vehicles, is reserved for a select few.
This all-new model introduces a host of changes and tweaks both inside and out but in typical Porsche fashion, progress is achieved less conspicuously. At first glance this Cayenne looks very familiar and Porsche likes it that way. Yes, it’s longer, features staggered-width tires for the first time and sports a lightweight aluminum body but in no way does not advertise “new.” Only those who closely follow the autos scene will know that you’ve got the newCayenne. In a hot segment awash with head turners, this midnight blue Cayenne S blends right in with the crowd.
Following the Panamera’s playbook, the 3.6 V6 has been replaced by the 2.9-liter twin-turbo with a hot V configuration. So the Cayenne S continues to see its engine shrink with each successive redesign though counterbalanced with greater ouput. This one generates 434 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque – similar specs to before – resulting in a quick yet very business-like 0-to-60mph time of 4.6 seconds when equipped with the optional Sport Chrono Package. Despite the aluminum diet which has shaved off 143 pounds, this Cayenne S returns the same 20mpg in combined driving as the previous model but with a much reduced driving range of 474 miles due to a smaller gas tank. Premium, of course.
Eight speeds remain for the gearbox but first gear is a little shorter than before for greater acceleration and the stop/start system operates under a wider range of circumstances benefitting from the new 48-volt electrical system with a lithium-ion battery located under the floor in front of the passenger’s seat.
This Cayenne also boasts a handful of optional features to enhance sportiness, comfort and capability: an adaptive air suspension, rear axle steering, 20” wheels with summer use tires and the Sport Chrono Package with a driving mode switch on the steering wheel unlocking SPORT PLUS, launch control and a SPORT response button for 20 seconds of instantaneous rambunctiousness.
Because this SUV handles like a sports car you’d better pony up the extra $1,700 for the Adaptive Sport Seats with their elevated side bolsters otherwise the g forces have their way with you. You can also jack up the body up to over 9” for some dialed-in off-roading. If this is something you plan on doing often, the $2,200 Off-Road Package provides increased underbody protection and an additional towing eye. Again, the suspension feels a little stiff out here where softer would be better. The surround view monitor though is very helpful no matter where you are.
The Cayenne S defies logic when it comes to its sharp handling backed by a multitude of electronic wizardry but others are doing this now too with greater visual appeal, faster and more powerful engines and stocked with far more comfort and convenience at the same or lower price, i.e. the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63.
Cargo room has increased slightly by about 3 ½ cubic feet while rear seat room feels large with seats that both slide and recline.
The new touchscreen infotainment system is also very good and is easy to control. But I’d get rid of the hokey fake ignition key on the left side, I can’t stand this pestilent shifter, don’t love the placement of the volume roller, and the gauges are wider than the steering wheel so the driver can’t see the outer edges.
Base price of this mid-level Cayenne S is about $85,000 and this one – far from fully loaded – checks in at $103,000…too rich for my blood. At that price I need an exceptional performer – which the Cayenne S is – AND SUV luxuriousness which isn’t standard.