The third-generation Porsche Cayenne debuted in 2018, which makes it ripe for a mid-cycle refresh. It was announced in April 2023 and, just a few months later, was officially revealed in Malaysia. Like the original, it will be offered as a locally assembled model. It has been a fruitful venture for Porsche—from its facility in Kulim, Kedah, the first-ever Porsche assembled outside Europe rolled off the line in early 2022. In June of this year, it celebrated the 1,000th unit.
As is the trend nowadays, the most significant updates offered by the facelift of the Porsche Cayenne (RM599,999) pertain to the user experience and infotainment system. The Cayenne’s is especially drastic, however, with the centre console, main screen, and instrument cluster completely overhauled in a manner that resembles the cutting-edge Taycan.
The driver enjoys a 12.65-inch curved display for the instrument cluster—which is still dominated by the central rev counter—and seamlessly embedded in the glossy black of the fascia is the 12.3-inch central infotainment screen. The surface extends to the passenger side where it appears as if a third screen can be found; while this is indeed an option on some models globally, it is unavailable in the single local variant. The gear shifter has been replaced by an unobtrusive toggle switch just to the left of the steering wheel. This leaves room for extra stowage and a wireless charger, as well as physical switches for the climate control system. Soft-close doors and adaptive cruise control are now offered as standard.
The other major change is the new two-chamber air suspension system, which is adjusted to give the Cayenne a smoother, more comfortable ride. The old Cayenne always had an edge to it, no matter the setting—good for the driver, bad for fussy passengers. The latter should be at least somewhat more satisfied with the new setup.
This change does emphasize one of the Cayenne’s longstanding quirks, which is that if driven like an ordinary SUV—smoothly, lazily, and in straight lines on highways—then it feels like an ordinary SUV. In other words, too bland to be a Porsche. As ever, though, the secret lies in the dial that hovers on the steering wheel. Sport mode is one twist away, Sport Plus just two; and when combined with an adventurous spirit and an active foot, once again makes the Cayenne come alive. It rewards aggression with control and attack with exhilaration. Those fussy passengers will have new cause to complain, but the driver will not. The ever-dependable 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 has been slightly tweaked upwards to put out 348bhp for a 0-100km/h time of 5.7 seconds.
A tall, full-sized, high-roofed SUV, with a 772-litre boot capacity that becomes 1,708 litres with the seats down, will never be a sports car or truly feel like one, but—just like it did when it was launched more than 20 years ago—the Porsche Cayenne comes closer than any other.