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2024 Porsche Cayenne Prototype First Drive Review: Even More To Like

By the time you read this, it’ll have been six months since I drove these 2024 Porsche Cayenne prototypes (seriously, embargoes are weird). And while I’m glad Past Me had the foresight to write down lots of detailed notes before they vanished from my rapidly mushifying brain forever, my overall takeaway can’t actually be attributed to any specific upgrade. The 2024 Cayenne is good because it’s cohesively, comprehensively improved.

Do note, the 2024 Cayenne isn’t brand new; this is really just a mid-cycle refresh of the current E3-generation SUV. A few minor styling adjustments are hiding under the camouflage, and Porsche confirms the Cayenne’s bumpers, fenders, hood, and lights have all been restyled. New colors and wheel designs are also in the cards, but really, don’t expect a radical visual transformation.

Instead, the headline talking points are a lineup of more powerful engines, updated cabin tech, and new suspension hardware. All will be revealed when the 2024 Cayenne debuts in April, but for now, here’s what I learned after taking Porsche’s prototypes for a spin.

More Power Across The Board

None of the Cayenne’s engines are new, but they all have more power. The base model’s turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 has 349 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque – increases of 14 and 37, respectively – and all Cayennes continue to use an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Despite being the entry-level engine, the 3.0-liter V6 is a peach, with more than enough power for your typical suburban daily driving.

The best news is that the Cayenne S ditches its old twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6 in favor of a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8. Powerful as it was, the 2.9-liter engine seriously lacked character, so the wallop and roar of a V8 will definitely cure those blues. This V8 is essentially a detuned version of the 4.0-liter engine used elsewhere in the Cayenne range, producing 468 hp and 442 lb-ft in the S. That’s not a significant bump from the 2.9-liter’s 434 hp and 406 lb-ft, but again, a V8 is so much more entertaining. The Cayenne S is better for it.

That’s immediately noticeable after a quick run through the canyons outside of Malibu, California. The Cayenne S absolutely hustles, with improved low-end thrust and the bellowing soundtrack to match. I have to wonder how this’ll affect the inevitable V8-powered Cayenne GTS, but I suppose we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. As it stands, the S is dope, and I can’t really see needing or wanting more.

Speaking of more – like, way more – Porsche will continue to offer the Cayenne in ultra-cool Turbo GT guise. Unlike every other Cayenne, which will be available in both traditional SUV and swoopy-roof Coupe body styles, the Turbo GT will only use the latter. It gets a small power boost, as well, now making a healthy 651 hp – up from 631 – as well as a carryover 627 lb-ft.

The Turbo GT isn’t just about power, though. Along with its reworked suspension (more on that in a moment), the top-shelf Cayenne truly feels like a sports car, with quick reflexes, an absolute crap-ton of grip, and a sense of urgency you won’t find in many other midsize performance SUVs.

Hybrid Options With More Electric Driving Range

Hybrids will be a big part of the 2024 Cayenne lineup. These plug-in models will all benefit from a larger battery pack with 25.9 kilowatt-hours of capacity – up from 17.9 – which will increase electric driving range. By how much, exactly? That’s still TBD. But considering the current Cayenne E-Hybrid has a 17-mile EPA-estimated EV range, this ought to at least move that figure into the mid-20s. And because it’ll use an 11-kilowatt onboard charger instead of the currently optional 7.2-kW setup, the Cayenne can replenish its battery quicker than before, as well.

Total system output for the 2024 Cayenne E-Hybrid – which pairs the larger battery with a 3.0-liter turbo V6 gas engine – is 463 hp and 479 lb-ft. Interestingly, while that’s an 8-hp increase, torque is actually down by 37 lb-ft. No matter, the instant electric torque off the line makes the Cayenne E-Hybrid perfectly quick, and the transitions between fully electric and hybrid driving are seamless. Porsche says it worked to improve the smoothness when switching between regenerative and mechanical braking, but it’s still not quite there. Maybe some fine-tuning before showtime will fix this, though.

Four Cayenne E-Hybrid models will be offered globally, including a China-only version that has a less-powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 engine. The two additional PHEVs we’ll get in the States are a mid-level hybrid – think Cayenne S area – as well as something top-tier. For that last one, expect something like an updated version of the crazy Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid, which currently makes an absurd (and wonderful) 670 hp.

New Suspension Is Good Stuff

From the base Cayenne to the bonkers Turbo GT, Porsche’s SUV is super good to drive. And while the updated powertrains play a large part, arguably more important is the chassis, which gets a thorough reworking for 2024.

The new hardware consists of a two-chamber air suspension and two-valve damper, replacing the old three-chamber air and one-valve damper design. The main difference you can feel is a broader spectrum of firmness, ranging from ultra-plush to pretty damn stiff. This also allows for more tangible separation between the Cayenne’s drive modes; Comfort is more comfortable while Sport Plus is… sport-plussier.

From the base Cayenne to the bonkers Turbo GT, Porsche’s SUV is super good to drive.

Of course, that’s the optional suspension. The standard kit incorporates steel springs with Porsche’s Active Suspension Management tech, and while not as sophisticated as the two-and-two air setup, I don’t see the majority of Cayenne buyers caring all that much. Even on its base chassis, this SUV loves being tossed into a corner, with communicative and responsive steering lending to those sharp reflexes. Torque-vectoring tech and rear-axle steering are also available for even sharper antics.

Familiar Tech Is Good Tech

If you’ve been in the Taycan EV, the 2024 Cayenne’s interior will look very familiar. Porsche wouldn’t let me photograph the SUV’s cabin – gotta leave something to the imagination, right? – but I promise, the Taycan influence is strong.

In front of the driver, there’s a curved 12.6-inch digital gauge cluster that’s free of a binnacle, so it looks recessed in the dashboard. This is the biggest change to the Cayenne’s interior, and with no chunky housing surrounding the screen, forward visibility is greatly improved.

In the center of the dash, there’s a 12.3-inch screen that runs the same updated multimedia software you’ll find in the 911 and Taycan. To the right, you can add an optional 10.9-inch passenger display with all sorts of redundant features and controls. Beyond that, the 2024 Cayenne has a digital climate control panel on the center console – again, like the Taycan – in addition to a larger engine stop/start button to the left of the steering wheel.

Coming This Spring

Final details like pricing and fuel economy estimates won’t be available for another few months. But I don’t expect the 2024 Cayenne to command significantly more than the current SUV, which starts at $73,650 (including $1,450 for destination). In addition to the base, S, E-Hybrid, and Turbo GT variants tested here, expect a whole mess of other Cayennes to launch in due course.

From the engines to the chassis to the infotainment tech, all of the 2024 Cayenne’s updates make an already great SUV even better. When the wraps come off the production car in April, I have no doubt the new Cayenne will be as compelling as it ever was.

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