Tony Soprano doesn’t look slimmer in horizontal stripes, and SUVs don’t drive like sports cars just because they wear a Porsche crest on the snout. Some people think they do, or that they should, and that’s flat wrong. The Cayenne is an SUV, emphasis on the U and not the S. Indeed, consider that performance driving in an SUV is done on dirt and not on asphalt. Our tester, the Porsche Cayenne S, would be excellent in the wilds, and was good enough for most on pavement for – ahem – what it is, mainly a heavy V-8-powered Porsche.
The SUV offered up plenty of power from its 4.8-liter engine, though with sluggish throttle response from red but a smooth transition of power through its six-speed automatic transmission. Rowing your own Tiptronic gears makes for a big difference when it comes to driving fun, especially via the paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The Sport mode suspension is also fun; in that mode, handling is tight for a vehicle weighing in at more than 2 tons and wearing 18-inch wheels. Aggressive driving brings out the best in this vehicle, but add bigger wheels if you want more fun at the outer limits. As it is, when you put this Porsche through its paces you won’t be disappointed – but you will feel strangely unsatisfied and empty, of emotion and gas in the tank. In comfort or normal mode, you get exactly what the button indicates: a comfortable ride that’s a little noisy but not intrusively so.
Inside, the Cayenne is comfortable if a little disconcerting, thanks to the leather interior’s baby poop hue and the massive amount of grained soft touch surfaces. At more than $70 grand, we’d hope for some more interior elegance to go along with the cool lighting and Porsche-style gauge treatments. Then again, that’s what people are paying for here, and what the Germans are delivering: the image of Porsche wrapped in a 2-plus ton grocery-gettin’ package.