The Cayenne S uses a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 and an eight-speed automatic gearbox, a broadly similar powertrain to that in the Audi RS5, albeit with marginally less power at 434bhp. Crucially, this powertrain feels a better fit here than in the sports coupé, the generous spread of torque – 405lb ft from 1800-5500rpm – arguably more befitting of a 2020kg SUV (yes, not much weight has been lost) than an M3-chasing two door. It lends the Cayenne S a fair turn of speed, certainly enough to make the 164mph claimed top speed seem eminently achievable on our brief drive. With minimal lag and a swift-acting automatic gearbox, the turbocharged V6 will provide all the performance most buyers will require.
While dynamic praise of this latest Cayenne is wholly justified, it must be qualified, as is often the case nowadays, by how options are chosen. For instance, our test Cayenne S featured carbon ceramic brakes – nice to have though hardly vital for many SUV buyers – in addition to adaptive air suspension, rear axle steering and 21in wheels. When you bear in mind that a standard car would use steel springs, half the amount of steered wheels, smaller rims and iron brakes, you can see how it is hard to make a definitive judgement on the standard Cayenne S.
As you might expect, however, the test car delivered a stellar dynamic performance. With a lower kerb weight than both the Bentley Bentayga and the Audi Q7 with which it shares a platform, the Porsche is a sharper, more direct and more responsive drive. Hackneyed though it may sound, it doesn’t corner unlike a large hatch, darting into bends with a neutral cornering attitude; indeed, while Porsche’s claim of this being more like a 911 than ever should be taken with a pinch of salt, it’s the Cayenne’s rear driven wheels that feel to be doing most of the work on corner exit.