But the Cayenne has always been capable, not only at taking the kids to school, but as a proper 4×4 and all-round family car.
To some non-believers it can come as a bit of a surprise that so many have found homes – in fact an impressive 280,000 have been sold since 2003. Something the marque’s dealers will know only too well.
If buyers have the money, they can fill their garage with cars for all occasions from Porsche. Everything’s on offer from a supercar to a family saloon. But the Cayenne has found the real market – offering wheels for the school run or comfortable motorway cruising for businessmen after a badge.
That explains why this is Porsche’s best-selling model in the world. And explains why a facelift and new look are so important to the manufacturer and its retailers. The Cayenne has a lot of weight on its shoulders and this refreshed model has to be right.
At first glance, the new Cayenne looks pretty similar to the old model. It’s a bit 911/Panamera on stilts. But look more closely and it is possible to spot the difference. A more streamlined and aggressive front end gets rid of that rabbit caught in headlights look, and is a huge improvement.
At the back, though, it has adopted the generic look of pretty much most Japanese 4x4s. Not too much imagination here then. Or maybe this is to appeal to the masses? We’re still undecided as to whether it works.
The car is slightly longer than the outgoing model – 48mm longer to be exact – and it’s also higher and wider too, giving more space inside. The cabin is a very comfortable place to be – it rivals pretty much ANY car we can think of. Comfortable, beautifully designed and really well put together, the materials Porsche have used are second to none. But that doesn’t come cheap.
We drove the new Hybrid model, with larger wheels, full leather and a few other extras that pushed the on-the-road price to just shy of £70k. That’s a long way from the £57,609 starting price, but very typical of how easy it is to go mad with the Porsche extras.
It’s quick enough to have fun in too and you don’t feel so bad when driving around town keeping it in full electric mode. CO2 emissions are down to just 193g/km for the hybrid – the standard 3.6-litre V6 petrol lump pumps out 236g/km.
The hybrid offers much better economy than the rest of the range too – averaging 34mpg around town compared to the 3.6-litre’s 28.5mpg.
But the problem is it likes to tell you exactly how efficient it’s being, all the time. The driver is bombarded with information from the centre screen. Where the power is coming from, how efficiently you are driving. We just wanted to switch the radio on… It’s technology overload and all a bit too much.
But if you can pull yourself away from the centre screen, you’ll notice the Cayenne drives beautifully. And it’s eerily silent in town as it‘s powered by the battery up to 31mph. The only clue pedestrians have that you’re coming is the stereo, if you can work out how to turn it on…
The car handles like a sports saloon on the twisty bits. It’s a little soft, but for a 4×4 is mighty impressive. Real fun is to be reserved for drivers of the range-topping Turbo though.
However, the hybrid’s the one we’d choose. It performs like a Porsche, goes like a Porsche and looks like a Porsche, yet buyers can be smug knowing they’re being far greener than most of the marque’s owners on the road.