2016 Porsche Cayenne V6 – review

2015 Porsche Cayenne V6

2015 Porsche Cayenne V6

Porsches always generate a lot of emotion for us.  The legendary German marque is dense with racing heritage, and there’s no denying the brand has a cachet that few others can match.

Our 2016 Porsche Cayenne test unit surprised us on its arrival.  Typically, Porsche sends us mid- to upper range vehicles that are loaded with pricey options.  But this Cayenne is a base model with a naturally-aspirated V6 engine, making it a relatively affordable Porsche.

Our test unit has a base price of $67,400 and a short list of options:  Palladium Metallic paint ($910); sunroof ($1,360); Driver memory seat ($450); Park assist/rear view camera ($2,000); and 18-in. wheels ($450).  With the $1,115 destination charge, the Cayenne rings in at $73,685.

Porsche Cayenne gets minor styling upgrades for 2016

2016 Porsche Cayenne

To Porsche die-hards, the Cayenne is an unforgivable sin.  An SUV manufactured by one of the world’s foremost sportscar companies is still seen by many as a betrayal to the brand.

But Porsche has benefited from from this strategic model but increasing its worldwide sales significantly.

The Cayenne shares its underlying platform with Volkswagen’s Touareg, and that’s not a bad thing.  The chassis provides a rock solid platform on which Porsche lays its own brand of engineering magic, especially when it comes to the suspension system.  At least that’s the theory.

On the road

While the Cayenne is unquestionably a comfortable and luxurious daily driver, its still an SUV and unlike the superlative Cayenne GTS V8 (which we adored and consider one of the best models in Porsche’s lineup), and is more competent than sporty.

On the highway, the Cayenne is quiet.  Road and wind noise is very well controlled, and it certainly excels as a long distance, highway cruiser.  Power from the 300 horsepower 3.6-litre V6 provides smooth, workman-like power, and is more serviceable than grin-inducing (like the 440 horsepower GTS.)  Porsche claims a 0-100 kph time of 7.7 secs.  The 8-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission downshifts instantly on demand, making the Cayenne feel quite responsive.

Where the Cayenne’s sport-oriented Tiptronic ‘trips’ up (pun intended) is that in aggressive driving, the transmission holds the lowest gear that has been engaged, keeping the revs high.  Even after you’ve lifted the throttle, the Tiptronic transmission is programmed to ‘think’ the driver will still want that lower gear for accelerating (presumably after ‘clipping’ the apex of a corner), then resuming hard acceleration on the ‘straight.’

Functionally, that means the engine holds high revs any time the Cayenne is accelerated hard and the throttle is lifted, and I find that annoying.  Perhaps that aggressive transmission programming is suitable on a 911 Carrera 4S, but for me, out of character on the base Cayenne.

The Porsche’s suspension is certainly supple, and the SUV provides a comfortable ride, even on rough roads and broken pavement.  Again, compared to its supersport-oriented GTS sibling, the base Cayenne is a modest performer and feels more like its corporate VW Touareg cousin.  Frankly, the base BMW X5 and even the Mazda CX-9 have sportier driving dynamics than they Cayenne.

Cayenne's interior layout and styling is similar to that used in the 911 and Panamera

Cayenne’s interior layout and styling is similar to that used in the 911 and Panamera

Interior

The Cayenne’s interior draws on the same design elements used in the 911 and Panamera.

the Cayenne uses a trio of round instruments, dominated by a centre tachometer, just like the 911 and Panamera

the Cayenne uses a trio of round instruments, dominated by a centre tachometer, just like the 911 and Panamera

The front bucket seats are broad and typically German – that is, firm.  HRH The Queen (aka Ingrid) announces the front seats are ‘very comfortable’, a rare sign of approval that few test units receive.

The fit and finish of the interior is everything you’d expect of a Porsche.  Interior materials are excellent, and the only quibble one might have is the design of the the centrestack and console.  I still find the numerous controls on the console ‘busy’, but have gotten used to this layout that Porsche seems to like, using it in other models such as the 911 and Panamera.

Comfortable front seats are typically Germanic - firm. Low side bolsters aren't sporty but allow easy access

Comfortable front seats are typically Germanic – firm. Low side bolsters aren’t sporty but allow easy access

 

Handle at side of second row seat allows seatback to fold down

Handle at side of second row seat allows seatback to fold down

This is why SUVs are so popular. They excel at cargo carrying versatility. The Cayenne's cargo floor is almost, but not quite, flat

This is why SUVs are so popular. They excel at cargo carrying versatility. The Cayenne’s cargo floor is almost, but not quite, flat

Fuel economy and quirky auto start/stop

The 2016 Cayenne comes standard with auto start/stop, a fuel-saving feature which under certain driving conditions, turns the engine off when the vehicle is stopped.

Normally, I like auto start/stop systems.  To me, it makes no sense for an engine to be running while the vehicle is stopped, such as at a red light.

Porsche’s auto start/stop can be disengaged using a button on the console.  Some Porsche owners don’t like having the engine turned off, saying the engine sometimes doesn’t turn on fast enough when the brake pedal is released and the accelerator is pressed.

I’ve never experienced the engine not turning on fast enough.  But one of the quirks I did find on our Cayenne was with the auto start/stop system turned ‘on’, the engine would turn off before the vehicle came to a complete stop.  This happened numerous times.  The Cayenne would still be rolling (albeit very slowly) and the engine would shut off before we stopped.  I found this to be a bit disconcerting, but got used to it happening.

The V6 Cayenne returned respectable but not outstanding fuel economy.  Our observed fuel economy was 11.5 l/100 km (premium unleaded) in 90-percent highway and 10-percent city driving.

Overall

Overall, the 2016 Porsche Cayenne V6 is a competent daily driver.  It’s comfortable, roomy and for Porsche loyalists, makes for a practical family hauler that can do just about everything.

Likes

  • Luxurious
  • Comfortable and quiet
  • Inexpensive (for a Porsche)

Dislikes

  • Where’s the ‘Porsche’ handling?
  • Quirky auto start/stop

 

 

 

 

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