12/29/23 UPDATE: This review has been updated with test results for the Cayenne Turbo GT.
Despite some initial resistance when the Cayenne debuted two decades ago, it has become one of the most important vehicles in Porsche’s lineup, accounting for about 30 percent of its worldwide sales. The current third-generation Cayenne has been in production since the 2019 model year and receives a timely refresh for 2024.
This isn’t your typical facelift, though. It’s a significant upgrade over the previous year, stopping short of a new generation because it shares much of the same chassis and crash structure. The 2024 Cayenne sports a new look, with a reworked front fascia with larger air intakes, restyled headlights, more prominent fenders, and a subtle hood bulge. The backside also gets a makeover, with new taillights and a tailgate that makes it look wider than before.
On the inside, a new 12.6-inch curved digital instrument display debuts alongside the PCM 6.0 infotainment system and its 12.3-inch touchscreen. The previous gear-selector lever has been replaced by a smaller toggle found in other Porsches and moved to the dash. That frees up some space on the center console for more storage and a new climate-control panel. The Cayenne also offers a 10.9-inch touchscreen for the front passenger, similar to that found in the Taycan.
The Cayenne lineup has been scaled back dramatically from nine trim levels to four. The base 348-hp Cayenne starts at $80,850, while the 468-hp Cayenne S will set you back another $16,500. At the top of the range is the 650-hp Turbo GT that flirts uncomfortably with a $200,000 price. It’s only available in the coupe body style and is now exclusive to the U.S. market. Slotting above the base model is the plug-in turbo V-6 Cayenne E-Hybrid with 463 horses at $93,350. A fully electric Cayenne is due in a few years and will overlap with the internal-combustion models.
Driving the Cayenne Turbo GT
We had the opportunity to unleash the Cayenne Turbo GT on some of our favorite roads in Southern California to see how the changes affect this sportiest of utility vehicles. The Turbo GT certainly deserves its position as the spiciest of Cayennes. If it had a Scoville rating, it’d easily mimic its six-figure pricing. Acceleration to 60 mph exactly matched the insane 2.8 seconds we recorded in a ’22 model, and the quarter-mile passed in 11.2 seconds at 121 mph. When you pin the pedal to the floor, you’re met with one of the most glorious V-8 engine growls this side of a Jaguar F-type, a full 79 decibels’ worth.
Off the line, the Turbo GT stumbles for just a brief moment as it struggles to keep the sticky Pirelli tires from going up in smoke and prepares for the next gear, but it is nonetheless impressive and chuckle inducing. The standard carbon-ceramic brakes are up to the task of slowing this 4994-pound SUV. It stops from 70 mph in just 150 feet, and the firm pedal adds further assurance.
Easing into a turn, the Cayenne’s steering is appropriately Porsche-like with its precision and effort. The standard adaptive air springs and lightweight carbon roof keep the Turbo GT from feeling top-heavy as it tracks through the curves with only a hint of body roll. Midcorner bumps can cause the rear tires to step out of line momentarily, but the Cayenne regains grip and composure before you can react. On the skidpad, we measured 1.02 g’s of cornering grip.
Just as impressive as its cornering prowess is the Turbo GT’s comfortable ride. Dial the drive mode back to Normal, and the suspension relaxes its clenching tautness for the kind of smoothness needed for longer journeys. The prominent road noise will add a bit of long-distance fatigue back, though.
Cayenne S Drive
We also drove the Cayenne S on the same roads, and the differences were telling but not dramatic. The big news for this midrange model is the return of the V-8 engine in place of the previous V-6, bringing with it an additional 34 horses. But you won’t find the Turbo GT’s theatrical snarl in the S, which instead has a comparatively bland sound that could be mistaken for the six-cylinder.
The Cayenne S also comes with a more conventional adaptive suspension that doesn’t have the range of comfort or performance from which the Turbo GT benefits. It’s more nervous and jittery over rough pavement and not as solidly settled in long sweeping curves. The air suspension is available as a $2390 option, however, and we highly recommend it for both the Cayenne S and base model, whether or not you’re seeking handling performance. Even with this addition, the Cayenne S costs half as much as the Turbo GT.
Of course, performance is only part of the Cayenne equation. It’s still a luxury SUV, and its interior handily meets expectations. While we could do with less piano black on the center console, the cabin is swathed in premium materials, and there’s a sturdy heft behind all of them. Besides the aforementioned road noise, the interior is devoid of creaks, squeaks, and excessive wind noise.
Moving the gear selector to the dash also allows for a wireless charging pad that’s well placed under the dash and is a great pairing with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You also get a larger storage pocket and cupholders. The new climate-control panel thankfully keeps some physical toggle switches for distraction-free adjustments. Secondary controls are capacitive touch buttons that require looking away from the road to use.
We’re not convinced the optional passenger touchscreen is worth the $1490 price, but there is a certain cool factor, nonetheless. It allows the front passenger to enjoy their own streaming entertainment, control several vehicle features, and play co-pilot with navigation, even though the center touchscreen is only a short reach away. The display’s polarized filter makes it appear to the driver as just a black plastic dash element to eliminate distraction. Our main issue with this display is the likelihood of triggering motion sickness for more sensitive passengers.
Altogether, the changes make the 2024 Porsche Cayenne even more desirable than before. For the driver who seeks more performance than the base Cayenne already delivers, the Cayenne S is sure to raise your heart rate. We’d suggest optioning the air-spring suspension for a broader spread of both comfort and handling. As glorious as the Turbo GT is, its very nearly $200,000 price seems excessive. But if we had the kind of bank balance that could absorb such a hit, you’d better believe we’d go for it.
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