The Cayenne is the model that may have very well saved Porsche. With the 996-series 911 sales withering and the Boxster becoming outdated, the Weissach company desperately needed an instant profitability injection. This was the basis on which the Cayenne was born. Primarily designed to target the massive SUV market in the United States, the Cayenne did not have particularly great looks but delivered a threatening road presence, peerless engineering, and supreme badge equity, but at a price. Refurbished examples are now dominating the market, but residues are still holding up.
While the Cayenne signified a radical diversion for the Weissach automotive, it was not exactly the first departure. The 924 with a VW engine left a foul taste in the mouths of Porsche purists, and so did the first water-cooled 911s and the dandy 928. Some of the complaints are valid. Besides, the 924 was born out of financial convenience, the same inspiration behind the assembly of the Cayenne.
From a collaboration with Volkswagen, the entry-level models shared the same underpinnings as the Touareg 4X4, but with an upgraded styling. Only the 4.5-liter models were offered initially, either in turbocharged or normally aspirated version, and it wasn’t until 2004 January that the company offered the more affordable 3.2-liter V6 Cayenne to reach out to those who didn’t own a private gold mine.
Here are our picks for the top five Porsche Cayenne models of all time.
2014 Porsche Cayenne S diesel ($87,000)
During its 12 year tenure since its inception, the 2014 Porsche Cayenne S diesel was the first model to introduce a completely new face-lift. But most of the cockpit remained the same: a perfect driving position where the driver could exploit the car’s surprisingly nimble handling, exquisite fit & finish, and sublime materials. The only quandary was the wind noise and tire roar that made the Cayenne louder inside than its counterpart BMW X5 or Range Rover Sport.
The car’s 4.2-liter twin turbo V8 engine had new impressive vitals that could attain 380bhp with a maximum torque output of 626 lb ft. of torque. Is it fast? Is January the first month of the year? With the 8-speed paddle shift automatic gearbox refined to Sport Plus mode and the optional integrated Sport Chrono, the car can reach 62mph from zero in just 5.3 seconds. Even more incredibly, the Cayenne S diesel can glide to 100mph in a mere 12.8 seconds.
2005 Porsche Cayenne Turbo ($123,000)
When it comes to Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs), the Cayenne Turbo sits right at the top, combining dynamic power with outstanding performance and a similarly muscular response across its entire speed range. In the practical figures and facts department, this translates into speeding qualities that rank extremely high in the SUV market: the car can accelerate from zero to 60mph in a mere 5.6 seconds while boasting a maximum speed of 165mph.
On the other hand, the 4.5-liter V8 engine incorporates inter-cooler technology and 2 exhaust gas turbochargers, generating a maximum power output of 450bhp at 6000rpm. In turn, this brings its maximum torque to 459 lb ft. The engine provides exceptional off-road qualities and operates smoothly and consistently even during extreme angles. What’s more, it features a special 6-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission that can easily handle the immense power and torque of the turbocharged engine.
Using the same Porsche’s philosophy, gears can be changed manually through paddles on the steering wheel or shifted simply by adjusting the selecting lever briefly. There is a wide range of options to ensure a safe and seamless gearshift when riding under off-road conditions.
2009 Porsche Cayenne GTS ($99,500)
When it was launched in 2009, the Porsche Cayenne GTS looked more like a sports car than an SUV. Unlike the previous Cayenne Turbo, the GTS features a normally aspirated, but significantly tuned V8 engine. As a result, the car could produce 79 bhp and a good 136 lb ft. of torque less than its sister car, but was 10% more economical and just a second slower to accelerate from zero to 60mph. The GTS was not an obscure niche car.
The previous generation model had sold up to 15,766 units, which accounted for a full 17% of all Porsche Cayenne sales when it existed in the showroom. This time, the GTS shaded a cool 160KGs and came with relatively more power (up to 20bhp) and torque (an impressive 11 lb. ft). The engine had been modified with new engine management, reshaped camshafts, stronger valve springs, and higher-lift valves.
In Sport mode, the Sound Symposer directs the engine intake noise pulses into the cabin, which is then channeled up within the A pillars. The volume is enhanced by electronically operated flaps at the rear silencer.
2016 Porsche Cayenne Platinum Edition ($65,600 to $81,600)
The most noticeable feature of the 2016 Porsche Cayenne Platinum Edition is its gigantic 20″ RS Spyder design wheels. Normally found in the 911, they are contained in wider wheel arches and come in multi-spoke configurations. The exterior colors of the SUV contrast beautifully with the shiny surface of the rims. The car itself is finished in either white or solid black, while options include Rhodium Silver, Carrara White, Mahogany, Purpurite, and Jet Black.
The standard color for the wheel arch extensions is black. The Platinum Edition also came with the Bi-xenon headlights featuring the PDLS (Porsche Dynamic Light System) that is optional on the regular SUV. The interior was also given a massive update. The sport seats are wrapped in leather and are 8-way electrically adjustable. The headrests feature Porsche crests and Alcantara center inserts.
Additional equipment included the front & back Park Assist, Power Steering Plus, and anti-glare rear view mirror. What’s more, the Platinum Edition models were integrated with the newest generation Porsche Communication Management system, which includes a BOSE Surround Sound premium audio system, the Connect Plus module, and navigation.
2016 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S ($159,000)
Securing its spot in our top five Porsche Cayenne models of all time is the 2016 Turbo S, described as the fastest and gripiest mega-SUV on the planet. The Turbo S is the ultimate SUV: designed to steer customers away from the $126k Range Rover Sport SVR for a more moderate, frugal, understated, and only slightly underpowered. The Cayenne features an upgraded turbocharger for the 4.8-liter V8 engine, which increases its maximum power to 562 bhp and 590 lb ft. of torque.
Additionally, the car was fitted with a BOSE surround-sound premium stereo,an embossed leather interior featuring carbon-fiber accents, adaptive LED headlights, carbon-ceramic brake discs supported by huge 10-piston calipers, and 21-inch alloy wheels. The resultant car weighs a little over 2.3 tonnes, yet it can accelerate from zero to 62 mph in a mere 4.1 seconds.