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Steering, suspension and comfort

No car can defy the laws of physics and with even the lightest Cayenne (the 4.8-litre V8 S petrol, not the 3-litre diesel) weighing 2065kg and the heaviest (the Hybrid, not the Turbo) tipping the scales at 2315kg, not even Porsche can disguise the fact that this is a high and heavy SUV. But it’s had a damn good go.

To understand the Cayenne’s performance in this category, you have to exclude the Hybrid whose excessive avoirdupois and unpleasant electric steering is no kind of advert for Porsche handling at all. It’s just not a very nice car to drive, which is not something we’d say about any other Porsche on sale right now.

It takes little effort to balance the Cayenne through high-speed corners despite its height and dimensions.

So with the unpleasantness dealt with, the good news is that every other Cayenne offers fine body control, accurate and well weighted steering and surprising grip. Even the diesel is a fluent and pleasant companion on a decent road, though you’d stop some distance short of calling it actively fun to drive.

All Cayennes are better in fast constant radius bends where they can settle on their suspension than tight hairpins which tend to induce understeer, and will offer some tightening of line according to throttle setting. The GTS on its bespoke settings is hilarious, summoning monster grip and liking nothing more than to be lobbed into a curve on a trailing throttle whereupon it’ll adopt a neutral to mildly oversteering stance until you hit the gas and thereby instruct the Porsche Traction Management all-wheel drive system to haul you straight.

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But there are still decisions to be made. Do you spec Porsche’s PASM active ride control and/or its air suspension because both only come as standard on the Turbos. For a car like this we’d incline towards saving the money and doing without the PASM but for those who do distances the air sprung suspension (which also provides adjustable ride height in the unlikely event you find yourself offroad) should prove a worthwhile investment.

Unlike early steel sprung Cayennes which had frankly awful ride quality, today’s cars are comfortable enough even without air (with the exception of the very firm GTS), but if you want really excellent comfort and almost no deterioration in either ride or handling regardless of load, only an air sprung car can provide it.

Off road Cayennes are now less capable than they were back in 2002 because they lack the low ratio transfer boxes that were standard in all versions of the first generation cars.

Even so given the largely unambitious rock-hopping aspirations of those spending many tens of thousands of pounds on a family SUV, it’s more than good enough offering all the approach and departure angles you could reasonably hope for from such a car and a decent wading depth.