The launch of the brilliantly capable but smaller Macan for a shade under Rs 1 crore in mid-2014 more or less also set up the big and popular Cayenne for an imminent (and significant) price revision. This, of course, to reflect the Cayenne’s higher position in Porsche’s hierarchy of models. Porsche has used the arrival of the facelifted Cayenne as its opportunity to jack up prices and the range now starts at Rs 1.04 crore (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the Cayenne Diesel you see here. That, for comparison, is a full Rs 25 lakh more than what it used to cost just a few months ago. I can sense the skeptics among you narrowing your eyes. But let’s give Porsche a fair hearing here and see what you get for the additional outlay.
Identifiable by its larger grille and side inlets with pronounced ‘airblades’, the refreshed Cayenne also gets a flatter bonnet and features Porsche’s new signature – a quartet of LED daytime-running lights in the headlamp clusters, à la the 918. At the rear, the revised tail-lamps are your biggest giveaway of this being the updated Cayenne, though the tail gate is also more contoured. While still not the most beautiful SUV around, you can tell with each round of updates that it’s getting closer.
As for the cabin, the cockpit-like layout remains unchanged from before. There’s a dedicated button for almost everything in here and it’s quite a relief to not have to rely on a screen to make simple adjustments. Of note in the cabin is the inclusion of the sporty 918-like three-spoke steering wheel. Thankfully, steering-mounted infotainment controls and paddle shifters are also part of standard kit this time around. It’s important to highlight that India-bound Cayennes also get keyless go, four-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof and air suspension (with adjustable damper control) as standard, all of which were options on the earlier car. Sure, the price hike more than covers their cost, but it’s nice to know the Cayenne doesn’t need to be specially specced with luxury car essentials. You can, however, still personalise the car endlessly (and at great cost) and opt for items such as Alcantara trim and ventilated rear seats. The last one might be of interest to the chauffeur-driven, because the Cayenne’s rear seat has been reworked to make it more comfortable. It’s genuinely supportive and spacious enough in the back to keep you content even away from the wheel.
But, as before, the highlight of the Cayenne remains its driving experience. While the 3.0-litre
V6 diesel has been tweaked, it doesn’t see a bump up in power (245bhp) or torque (56kgm). Not that it matters much, solely because of the remarkably linear and effortless manner with which the engine pulls the Cayenne forward. Performance is brisk while the quick-shifting eight-speed gearbox lets you make the most of the powerband. If anything, it’s the slightly gruff albeit muted soundtrack from the engine that will give you reason to complain.
Of course, like any Porsche sportscar, the Cayenne too is best experienced when attacking corners. With the Porsche Active Suspension Management (adaptive dampers, in plain English) set to their new Sport Plus setting, the Cayenne changes direction with uncanny precision and minimal body movement. The steering could do with some more weight, but it’s beautifully accurate nonetheless. Unfortunately, even with the dampers at their softest, the Cayenne rides with that ever-present hint of firmness we’re forced to accept from European cars. But it’s not a deal breaker in the least. All-wheel drive and six-step adjustable ride height also make the Cayenne fairly adept off road. Though, with only a space saver for a spare wheel, it’s best not to venture too far off.
Still, the Cayenne retains all that’s made it the massive success that it is. It’s fantastic to drive even in relatively humble Diesel form, beautifully built and now even more comfortable. The additional equipment it comes with now also offsets the price increment to some extent. To the average luxury SUV buyer willing to stomach the Cayenne’s substantial price, it remains a great SUV to buy.
But for driving enthusiasts, the smaller, lighter and generally more exciting Macan is still the Porsche SUV we’d recommend, limited rear seat space and poor value for money be damned.