Porsche Cayenne facelift India review: Sporty yet sensible

    Is the new Porsche Cayenne still the most driver-centric luxury SUV? We drive from Guwahati to Cherrapunji to find out.

    Published on Jul 31, 2023 02:20:00 PM


    Make : Porsche
    Model : Cayenne
    We Like
    • Driving manners
    • Ride comfort
    We Don't Like
    • Expensive optional extras

    As beautiful and picturesque as it is, Meghalaya is severely underrated. Lush green forests, gorgeous valleys, warm people and some of the best roads in the country. It might not sound like the perfect setting for a luxury SUV, but it sure is perfect for a Porsche.

    So to sample the Cayenne facelift, we were flown to Guwahati, from where we would be driving on a beautiful road, for around 150km to Cherrapunji – one of the wettest places on earth. 

    Subtle changes to the design which only a Porsche afficianado would be able to spot.

    Rainfall here averages around the 11,000mm mark, which, for reference, is almost six times that of Mumbai (which is supposedly always flooded). Also, this was the peak of the monsoons, so the expectation was that the wipers would be doing more work than anything else in the car. 

    Porsche Cayenne facelift suspension, tech and features

    We started the day on a surprisingly warm morning with no signs of the infamous downpour. It was hot! With the Cayennes gleaming, parked in a convoy with German precision, we picked the ones we liked to look at and made a beeline for Cherrapunji, in search of rain. 

    Drive modes offer wide range of set-ups.

    The new interior sure does make the Cayenne feel like a Taycan; this is largely due to the triple screens on the dashboard, out of which, the passenger screen is a Rs 1.5 lakh optional extra. Since I was in the passenger seat for our first stint, I poked around to see what was on offer. It is slick and responsive and vibrant as well, and it allowed me to set up the media and navigation, and if it had internet connectivity, it would allow streaming content as well. A neat safety feature is that the passenger screen is not visible to the driver courtesy of a special tint. 

    Another option that was part of the package was the Rs 2.8 lakh Bose sound system, which was just epic. The centre console too is heavily updated with the chunky gear lever being omitted to make more space. The gear selector is now a toggle-style switch on the dashboard. In place of the old selector is a glossy panel for the climate control function, and by the time we crossed the hotel gates, it was smudged in fingerprints. 

    Comfy rear seats are more functional than luxurious.

    Getting out of Guwahati isn’t much of a hassle barring some light traffic, and once you are on open roads, the Cayenne comes into its own. As a passenger, I could tell the new heavily reworked suspension was working wonders. Battered sections were surprisingly easy to get across and they were barely noticeable in the cabin. This would be expected in a Range Rover, but on a Cayenne, which has traditionally been a sporty SUV, it was pleasantly unexpected. The Indian version gets air suspension as standard and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with its two-valve technology. It’s extremely clever tech, and it’s calibrated perfectly for Indian conditions. 

    Sports Exhaust is a Rs 5.9 lakh option, but worth the price.

    At the lunch stop, it was time to get behind the wheel and see how the new Cayenne drives. It began with Shillong’s peak traffic though. Schools had opened up and it was chaos on the very pretty but also very narrow streets. As we inched ahead, the parking sensors with the stunning 360-degree camera were perpetually on display beeping and flashing as bikers avoided grazing the bulbous fenders. 

    Porsche Cayenne facelift engine, performance, ride & handling

    But finally, we inched out of Shillong and onto what might possibly be one of the most stunning roads in India. The final 50-odd kilometres unveiled the true magic of the North East and the Cayenne. 

    The suspension on the new Cayenne that has improved significantly and upped ride quality. 

    The engine in the Cayenne is a more powerful 3.0-litre, twin-turbo V6 which now makes 353hp and 500Nm; not the most exciting figures, and even performance-wise, it won’t make you giggle. It does the 0-100kph sprint in 6 seconds and if you have the Rs 2.2 lakh Sports Chrono pack, it will shave off 0.3 secs as well. On the uphill sections in Sport Plus, you can tell the engine likes to rev high and power is strong, especially in the mid-range and top-end. Change the mode to Comfort and it simmers down, but the response is still quite strong. 

    This V6, incidentally, will also be the sole engine on offer in India. The 659hp Turbo GT with its V8 wouldn’t meet emissions norms and the e-hybrid didn’t find many buyers to be viable. However, the Cayenne S with its 474hp V8 could make it to India.

    Twisties remain a Porsche speciality, offering handling that is second to none. 

    But more than the outright performance, it is the handling that has always been a Porsche trait. Show the new Cayenne a set of corners, switch to Sport Plus mode, which firms up the suspension, and suddenly you aren’t driving an SUV. Words like lean and body roll go out the window and the satisfaction of a well-calibrated steering is second to none. I would recommend getting the Rs 5.9 lakh optional sports exhaust that adds drama and makes the otherwise subtle V6 more exciting. 

    Porsche Cayenne facelift styling

    Closer to Cherrapunji, dark clouds cast their shadow through the Rs 4 lakh panoramic sunroof. We were in for a full cloudburst showdown but we reached the resort in time and the heavens opened just as we parked the cars, washing away the day’s drive. 

    Like every Porsche, the new Cayenne too is an evolution and not a revolution.

    The torrid rainfall was as good as a pressure wash and once it stopped, the nuances in the design updates were again a delight to see. Like every Porsche, the new Cayenne too is an evolution and not a revolution. The headlamps are slightly sharper, the MATRIX LEDs are techier and the bumpers are redesigned. There’s 20-inch wheels as standard, but you can choose from as many as 24 wheel options, ranging from 20-inch to 22-inch. Decals are also an option if you want to spruce up the styling and the rear is now sleeker to look at thanks to the repositioning of the number plate. 

    Porsche Cayenne facelift price and verdict

    This being a review, on the way back, I did what most Cayenne owners won’t do, or rather, shouldn’t do – I sat in the back seat. The sporty theme is carried over from the front and while it’s no Range Rover, there was sufficient space to stretch out in, and real comfy seats with climate controls on the left and right, and optional extra sun blinds. And thanks to the superb suspension, you have exceptional ride quality.

    On the face of it, not a big change but plenty of improvements under the skin. 

    That said, there is a sense that you are missing out on something though, it doesn’t feel as special as it does from the driver’s seat. At Rs 1.3 crore, it isn’t cheap, and by the time some essential options are ticked, you get very close to the Rs 2 crore mark. So to buy this car, you need to be very sure of what you want for options as well as utility. If you want to be chauffeured around, there are better options, and also if you want something snazzy and exclusive. But if you want to drive yourself and are confident that you will make it out of the city often, other SUVs will struggle to come close to the new Cayenne.

    Also see:

    Porsche Cayenne facelift India video review

    Tech Specs

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