The engine is a peach. Okay, so you don’t get the emotive burble of the old V8, but the V6 feels properly lively when you want it to, revving sweetly through a long, elastic-feeling rev range, without any untoward boostiness from the turbos. Use the paddles and you can even work this motor as if it were naturally aspirated, though most will prefer to avoid the slightly whiny-sounding high revs and stick to the broad spread of torque elsewhere.
That’s where the eight-speed auto will generally keep you anyway. It shifts smoothly and nearly always picks the right ratio, although in Sport auto mode it can be a little slower than you might hope; the paddle shifters are better for really plundering the Cayenne’s substantial performance.
So is the handling drastically improved? Not really, no, but the Cayenne was hardly shabby to drive before. What is evident is that the Porsche remains about as wieldy as a big SUV can be. The four-wheel drive system allows a little slip at the rear wheels, which is a welcome help to get the car turned in, because otherwise – in greasy conditions, particularly – the Cayenne's first inclination is to understeer. Throw in some liberal trail-braking as you dive into a corner, though, and you can dial the understeer out pretty easily and the whole car feels balanced, responsive and even quite fun. All this is tempered by great brake and throttle feel and response, as well as well weighted, predictable steering.
Our car came on air suspension, which brings a fair amount of body float, though in Sport or Sport Plus the suspension manages weight transfer well and keeps body movements progressive. Problem is, either of these settings also introduces a fidgety ride over patched-up surfaces, with overly bouncy vertical damping at speed and harsh initial bump absorption. The 21in alloys on our car won’t have helped at all, but on air suspension and big rims the Cayenne falls short of the sweet balance of cushy ride and absorbing handling that the Range Rover Sport does so brilliantly.
The interior has been mildly updated. A new steering wheel is the main change, and it’s lovely, with standard multi-function controls and ideal rim width. Otherwise, the Cayenne’s cabin remains a comfortable and solid-feeling place that comes with electrically adjustable front seats, leather and climate control, although you’ll have to pay extra for sat-nav and even Bluetooth.