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Porsche Cayenne S 2024 review

Daniel Gardner

The facelifted Cayenne range has seen extensive changes for 2024, and the result is one of motoring’s great SUVs just got better.

Good points

  • V8 charisma
  • Beautiful chassis tuning
  • Cool colour options inside and out
  • Bang-for-buck performance

Needs work

  • Surface Coated Brakes discontinued
  • New brake booster is curious
  • Sharp steering but needs more weight
  • Some will miss analogue tacho

A fourth-generation Porsche Cayenne is on the horizon but before the new model arrives, its maker has treated the current model to a last refresh. The update brings more power to all variants, enhanced technology, a significant exterior redesign and a reshuffle of pricing.

You can still get an entry-level V6, a fuel-sipping plug-in hybrid and a range-topping Turbo version with stratospheric ability, but it’s the mid-range S which has received the most comprehensive revisions and will likely continue the trend as Porsche’s most popular Cayenne.

Porsche Cayenne S 2024 front 3/4 building 2

The Cayenne range may be renowned but it needs to be, with close competitors offering strong competition including the closely-related Audi SQ7, new Range Rover Sport, recently refreshed BMW X5 and the inbound update for the Mercedes-Benz GLE.

We took the 2023 Cayenne S for a blast on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula to see why the iconic German carmaker says it’ll continue to be one of Australia’s favourite Porsches.

What are the Porsche Cayenne S’s features and options for the price?

The Cayenne update is not just a facelift with a splash of new colours (although you do get that), with the S gaining the most significant changes for 2023/2024.

“It’s one of the most extensive product upgrades in the history of Porsche,” said Cayenne product line vice president Michael Schätzle.

On the outside the comprehensive exterior revision brings new front and rear bumpers, reprofiled wheel arches and bonnet, with a new design for front and rear lights as well.

Porsche Cayenne S 2024 driving front close

The headlights now feature the most advanced matrix LED technology across the board, but are optionally available with even higher resolution HD LED matrix lights – a first for the Cayenne.

In place of the previous partially analogue instrument cluster, the Cayenne now gets a curved and free-standing fully digital driver’s display dubbed the Porsche Driver Experience, offering a higher degree of customisation and more available information.

The gear selector has been moved to the dashboard on the left of the steering wheel while only the HVAC controls are retained on the centre console. This has freed up more space for storage in the centre console.

Porsche Cayenne S 2024 interior

A central screen has also been updated with improved connectivity and features accessible via a new HD 12.3-inch touchscreen.

If that’s not enough pixels, the new Cayenne can be optioned with an additional screen for the front passenger.

The third 10.9-inch digital display allows the passenger to access their own information and entertainment including video, which cannot distract the driver thanks to a special film limiting the angle at which the images can be seen from.

Suspension has also been returned for all variants. In the case of the Cayenne S, it gets new adaptive air suspension with a unique dual air chamber design, but the system now has two valves allowing the bump and rebound to adjusted independently.

Porsche Cayenne S 2024 rear 3/4 above

Perhaps the most significant change for the S however, is in its drivetrain. While the other variants retain largely the same layout albeit with enhanced power and torque outputs, the S has an entirely new engine.

Previously, it used a version of the 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 found under the bonnet of the Audi RS4 with 324kW and 550Nm. Now though, the S gets a detuned version of the Turbo’s donk with a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 that produces 349kW and 600Nm.

Separation is maintained between the S and flagship Cayenne with the Turbo now upgraded to the even faster 485kW Turbo GT as part of the 2024 refresh.

Porsche Cayenne S 2024 front section

As you might expect, the extra goodies have affected the price with all variants now costing more cash.

Despite its hearty enhancement of kit and performance, the S has only been subjected to a relatively small increase of about $5000 to $181,000 before on-road costs, while going for the Coupe version adds an extra $9000 to the bottom line.

How does the Porsche Cayenne S drive?

Many Cayenne owners are compelled to put an example on their driveway to join the coveted Porsche family without compromising too much on practicality. To that end, the refreshed Cayenne S is still an excellent choice for those with the budget.

Its revised air suspension offers a comfortable but satisfyingly comfortable ride with strange but likeable characteristics.

Porsche Cayenne S 2024 driving rear close 2

It’s not quite as pronounced as in the Turbo GT, but its chassis has a nature that’s almost the reverse of most other large sporty SUVs with a stiff and sporty primary ride but relaxed and compliant secondary ride.

The result is a car that manages to be relaxing on longer drives but always has a sporty personality in reserve for if the road turns twisty. These characteristics can be fine tuned in the various drive modes but the same taught overall feel is prevalent in all driving and serves as a reminder that you’re in a pedigree SUV.

The addition of a V8 only enhances that personality. For the record, we rather liked the highly strung 2.9-litre V6 but have to concede that a less neurotic and larger V8 is probably a better match for this type of Porsche.

Porsche Cayenne S 2024 driving front 4

Despite its lower power figure compared with the utterly mental Turbo GT, the S V8 still has bags of personality and charisma.

An exhaust note that means business is certainly not misleading and the Cayenne S has excellent performance and feels every bit as quick as the reported 4.7s 0-100km/h claim.

When up and about, the pairing with eight-speed automatic transmission works well with fast gear changes and lag-less throttle response, surprise the drivetrain with a sudden prod of the throttle while causing in Normal mode however, and the engine and gearbox take a little time to get into the spirit of things.

Porsche Cayenne S 2024 driving rear 3

Body control is just about best in class with a blatant stubbornness to roll in sharp corners and wash into understeer with the superb chassis control systems always maintaining progress in the right direction.

The clever torque distribution system is unapologetically rear-biased in all driving modes and only calls on the skinnier front tyres once the driver has well and truly run out of talent.

Steering also brings classic Porsche feel if not quite as clairvoyant as the rest of the family and the same applies to the brake pedal feel – nothing compared to a Cayman but still firmer and more progressive than anything of this size and weight.

Porsche Cayenne S coupe 2024 driving
Pictured: the coupe version of the Cayenne S

A new electric brake booster has, says Porsche, resulted in a more natural and consistent feel but we’re not completely convinced. We also found the front 410mm discs needed a bit of heat in them before returning the brake performance we were expecting.

The innovative Porsche Surface Coated brakes which were introduced with the new model are unfortunately no longer available which is a shame considering the performance and aesthetic advantages they offered.

That said, the carbon ceramic brakes are still an option for those with money to burn – or at least get really hot.

What is the Porsche Cayenne S’s interior and tech like?

Porsche has nailed the interior update and, with the enhanced digital screens but more thoughtfully designed HVAC and gear selector controls, has managed to make the cabin more user-friendly but futuristic at the same time.

Both digital driver’s display and central screens are incredibly sharp in resolution and brightness, and operation of the touchscreen is fast and smooth. Both are complemented by an excellent colour head-up display.

Porsche Cayenne S 2024 interior 2
Porsche Cayenne S 2024 interior multimedia screen

Perhaps it’s a criticism that is less relevant for one of Porsche’s SUVs but, while the technological improvements are modern and slick, we rather liked the partial analogue dials as a connection to Porsche’s purity and past along with features such as the key-turn to start found in models including the 911.

Otherwise, the Cayenne’s refreshed cabin is a fine example of practicality and function in parallel with design, not as a product of compromise.

Unsurprisingly, all smartphone mirroring is supported wirelessly, while the updated operating system now offers smoother pinch-and-drag functions.

As with many vehicles, the option to enter destinations and searches using handwriting directly on the screen is most suitable for left-handed people in this right-hand-drive market.

Porsche Cayenne S 2024 interior front seats
Porsche Cayenne S 2024 interior rear seats

One thing that hasn’t changed is the quality and sharp design of the Cayenne interior.

We love the colour options that manage to be different without becoming garish and vulgar, including subtle frosted dark metallic blue interior trims and a gorgeous deep olive green leather upholstery, for example.

Practically speaking (and as before) there is decent rear seat room even in the Coupe’s slightly compromised rear headroom, a boot volume measuring 550 litres is respectable, while a 20-inch collapsible spare is easily the best solution in an age of vast standard road wheels and where full-size spares are almost impossible to accommodate.

Is the Porsche Cayenne S a safe car?

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) typically doesn’t test Porsche models with the European equivalent (NCAP) offering the best assessment, including the Cayenne.

As it hasn’t been significantly mechanically changed for the 2024 update, the safety assessor did not deem a retest necessary and the 2017 five-star rating remains current.

Porsche Cayenne S 2024 wheel

It scored particularly well in adult occupant protection with a 95 percent result, with child occupant protection a respectable 80 percent.

NCAP weights its scoring heavily in active collision avoidance tech and the Cayenne did well for its standard inclusion of the most advanced AEB, which includes vulnerable road user detection.

For the update, critical safety technology has been updated including its adaptive cruise control system and an Evasion Assist function which helps the driver steer around a collision.

Porsche Cayenne S 2024 driving front 3

The lane-keep assistance is also improved with the Cayenne now able to maintain a central lane position even at low and stop/start traffic speeds.

The new advanced LED matrix headlights are now capable of spotlighting potential hazards at night, alerting the driver to potential danger, while performing their usual trick of allowing the optimum illumination of the way ahead without dazzling other road users.

What are the Porsche Cayenne S’s ownership costs?

As a high-performance SUV wearing the Porsche shield, you can expect insurance costs to be on the more expensive end of the spectrum and this may be a consideration for an owner depending on their personal circumstances and driver history.

Porsche does not offer capped price servicing deals like many manufacturers. Instead, the cost for scheduled maintenance is liable to change over the life of the Cayenne.

Porsche Cayenne S 2024 badge 2

At the time of writing however, the price for a basic oil service was $785, while an inspection service costs $1385 for an inspection service.

At certain times during the Cayenne’s life, it’ll need a major service although Porsche does not list the price for this less frequent maintenance visit. Service intervals are every 15,000km.

Porsche offers an unlimited kilometre three-year warranty on the Cayenne but the option to extend it for an additional payment.

The honest verdict on the Porsche Cayenne S

Previously, justifying the jump from Cayenne S to Cayenne Turbo was easier. After all, making the leap introduced V8 power and the additional damage to the bottom line was less punishing on the wallet, relatively speaking.

Now though, the mid-range S has a lot of the previous Turbo’s personality thanks to its two extra cylinders and, with the replacement of the ‘regular’ Turbo in favour of its manic GT sibling, the privilege to upgrade to the flagship comes at a greater cost.

Porsche Cayenne S 2024 side building 2

Unless you absolutely must have the most ostentations styling and outrageously capable (perhaps unusable for many) performance of the brilliant Turbo GT, you’d have to be mad to stump more than $170,000 to cross the price void from S to flagship Cayenne.

With a wonderful balance of relaxing cruising comfort but fast-car-enthusiast potential lurking under the throttle the second you want it, the S has the greatest bandwidth in the line-up.

Porsche Cayenne S 2024 driving rear 3/4

A decent injection of technology and functional features has only enhanced that package without noticeably impacting any of the model’s attributes which shone when the new model was introduced five years ago.

Price increases are, more often than not, the product of progress, but once you look at what the refreshed Cayenne S can compete with on performance and luxury, its initially eye-watering price starts to shape up as surprising value for money.

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