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In-depth reviews

Porsche Cayenne review – ride and handling

The Cayenne feels taut and keen for a large SUV, but some rivals are more cosseting

Evo rating

We’ve only driven the standard V6 Cayenne so far, and it’s worth noting that our test car lacked certain key chassis upgrades such as rear-wheel steering, active anti-roll bars and air springs. In this configuration, the Cayenne didn’t conjure the exceptional response, suspension refinement and control we know this platform can achieve, so we’ll reserve final judgement for when we drive another example. 

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That isn’t to say the Cayenne’s inherent dynamic ability didn’t rise to the surface. Even without the chassis gizmos it feels intuitive and more reactive than similarly sized SUVs, with remnants of sporting DNA in its makeup. The clean, consistent response to the steering allows you to trace a precise line along sweeping roads, with a measured rate of response as you wind on lock. The brakes are easy to modulate and picking a road apart feels natural, and while the Cayenne never completely shakes off its sense of size and weight, the forces at play feel expertly controlled. 

This is partly due to the new damping technology, which (true to Porsche’s word) does offer a significant difference between each mode to suit the conditions. None of them feels overwrought – switching to Normal sets the car into a relaxed stride with an acceptable degree of vertical float, with Sport mode dialling this out for a more immediate, controlled reaction to bumps.

It’s a well-judged compromise, but even at its softest the Cayenne doesn’t feel quite as plush as other more overtly luxurious SUVs. There’s more road noise than you might expect and some poor surfaces do patter through the chassis, which is amplified in Sport – we wonder whether the optional air springs will iron most, if not all, of this out. 

Despite the Cayenne’s pretence as a sporting SUV, you tend to marvel at – rather than enjoy – its abilities when digging deeper. Again, it feels like while Porsche has made the best of the largely passive setup of our test car; the optional chassis electronics are key to releasing the freakish, almost supersaloon-like response and agility the third-generation Cayenne is capable of. As it stands, the Cayenne never gets wallowy or out of shape, just less transparent and obedient to your commands as the tyres and suspension work harder. Unless you start to hurl all that mass around (which feels wholly inappropriate) there's very little adjustability on offer either – it's more gratifying to settle into an easy, flowing pace.

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