When Porsche first introduced the original Cayenne SUV almost a decade ago, the move was immediately decreed as sacrilege by the automaker’s hardcore following of fans right across the globe. However, many quickly came to realize that the Cayenne, in some trim levels at least, was stupidly fast and able to outmatch many dedicated sports cars.
Today the Cayenne is in its second generation and is currently the top-selling model in the Porsche family. This month Porsche announced that it had, in fact, produced its 100,000th second-generation Cayenne after only one full year of sales.
And after driving it, we fully understand why it’s become so popular, not only with those aforementioned hardcore fans but families too.
The Cayenne was completely redesigned for 2011 so this year there aren’t many updates. There’s still four different powertrains to choose from, starting with a 300-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 in base trim and going all the way up to a 500-horsepower twin-turbocharged 4.8-liter V-8 in the range-topping Cayenne Turbo.
For the environmentally conscious, there is the Cayenne S Hybrid. It features a sophisticated parallel hybrid drive system that combines a supercharged 333-horsepower 3.0-liter gasoline V-6 with a 47-horsepower electric motor running on lithium-ion batteries. The end result is a V-8-like 380 horsepower and 427 pound-feet of torque, the latter of which is available from a low 1,000 rpm. You’ll be able to accelerate from 0-60 mph in a brief 6.1 seconds in the hybrid SUV while averaging a very respectable 20/24 mpg city/highway.
Note, a Cayenne Diesel has just been announced for the 2013 model year and we suspect that this model will be even more economical than the Cayenne S Hybrid.
Our pick would have to be the Cayenne Turbo, which will rocket you from 0-60 mph in less than 6.0 seconds and see you reach a top-speed of 172 mph. It is pricey, however, hovering above the $100k mark, though it’s a must if you expect your Porsches to be fast.
Altogether, handling and road-holding is superb in any model thanks to standard all-wheel drive, and the lighter structure and lower center of mass (while still keeping some trail ability) help give this latest generation of the Cayenne a more nimble feel. If you can afford it, we also recommend the Porsche Adaptive Suspension Management (PASM) air-suspension system, along with the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC), as they improve both ride and handling over the base setup.
For more details on the 2012 Porsche Cayenne, check out the full review on our sister site The Car Connection.