You’d be wrong to characterize the upcoming mid-cycle refresh of the 2024 Porsche Cayenne as a mere facelift, as it’s more of a heart-lung transplant in the form of significant changes to many of its powertrains. The engineering team has also given it hip and knee replacements in the form of meaningful tire and suspension tweaks. But these are not geriatric maintenance moves. They’re better thought of as bionic upgrades meant to advance the Cayenne’s state of being.
Besides, the cosmetic facelift elements are impossible to judge. The prototypes we drove were effectively camouflaged with rattle-can black paint, bug-eyed headlight mascara appliques, and strategically taped-over taillights. The revised LED headlights and taillights are therefore hard to get excited about, but one key element did stand out through all of that. The Cayenne’s stance has been toughened up by larger-diameter tires. In off-roader terms they’re 31-inchers, which makes them just over an inch larger than before.
The reasoning for this wasn’t enhanced off-road prowess, but rather a higher level of rolling comfort and mechanical grip owing to a larger contact patch. Although the base wheels go from 19s to 20s, many wheels are the same diameter as before, which not only means there’s more sidewall but that the tire assemblies also house more air, which in turn allows Porsche to earn compound interest by lowering tire pressures a smidge. Indeed, the prototypes stuck like Velcro yet largely filtered out the worst textures that the coarse and tortured asphalt of the tightest Malibu canyons had to offer.
Partial credit goes one rung higher, as now even the base model comes standard with PASM adaptive dampers. Air-sprung Cayennes take it up another notch, with rethought springs that feature two chambers instead of three. This seeming deficit actually amounts to a step forward because the PASM dampers now have distinct rebound and compression adjustment valves, as opposed to the current single valve that attempts to regulate both. The result is much finer control and the ability to better optimize damping characteristics in response to given circumstances and the driver’s mode selection. Other tweaks include revisions to the rear-axle steering system for increased maneuverability and re-optimization of the rear torque-vectoring system for better dynamics.
Even though the above updates matter more in day-to-day driving, the revitalized and revamped powertrains are the marquee difference here. Major changes were deemed necessary to meet the steady forward march of emissions regulations, but as is often the case with modern powertrains, the engine management strategies developed to burn the fuel more completely also tend to open the door for more power. Such is the case here.
At the bottom of the range, the base Cayenne’s 3.0-liter turbo V-6 gets a 14-hp bump, making 349 horsepower instead of the current 335 ponies. The increase in torque is even more noticeable, with the jump from 332 to 369 pound-feet representing an 11 percent increase. Meanwhile, the twin-turbo V-8 powering the utterly-bonkers Turbo GT at the top of the food chain will soon make 651 horsepower instead of a mere 631. Its torque remains unchanged at 626 pound-feet, indicating a likely capacity limit for the carryover eight-speed Tiptronic S transmission.
The biggest changes happen in the middle of the range. The Cayenne S, currently powered by an unloved 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 that makes 434 horsepower and 405 pound-feet, is returning to its V-8 roots. Its new short-stroke 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 puts out 469 horses and 443 pound-feet, which represents nearly 10 percent more of each. We could wax on about its impressive throttle response and easy passing power, but our more childish sensibilities are perfectly happy with its distinctive V-8 idle and the thunder it can send echoing off tunnel walls.
Meanwhile, the Mr. Spock in us really likes what Porsche has done to the E-Hybrid, which is, in fact, a plug-in hybrid. Total combined power is up slightly, from 455 to 464 horsepower. The role of the detuned 3.0-liter turbo V-6 has been diminished, but there’s been a big boost in the strength of the electric half of the powertrain. The electric motor now contributes 174 horsepower instead of 134, and it’s supported by a significantly larger battery, now with 25.9 kWh of gross capacity instead of 17.9 kWh (roughly 20.6 kWh usable versus 14.3 kWh on the current E-Hybrid). A revised brake-blending system allows regenerative braking to persist all the way to a dead stop, and in our driving the E-Hybrid’s regenerative braking strength and smoothness indeed showed a marked improvement.
The goals for the revamp are improved electric-only range, expanded EV mode persistence, and better gasoline-engine mpg. We can’t speak to the efficiency, and new EPA ratings are not yet available. Porsche suggests it could earn double its WLTP range in Europe. Here in the U.S., the current electric range is just 17 miles. We’re not expecting to see that double, but we see 30 miles as a distinct possibility—enough to make the 2024 Cayenne E-Hybrid a much more credible PHEV. On top of that, it’ll have the capability to charge faster too, with a new standard on-board charger that’s rated at 11.0 kW instead of this year’s pitiful 3.6-kW standard unit and lackluster 7.2 kW upgrade that costs $1230.
Porsche hasn’t left the interior out of all of this. The Cayenne will receive a new Taycan-inspired curved instrument panel and center display. The 12.7-inch instrument display is magnificent, and just beside it juts the Taycan’s toggle-style gear selector. A familiar 12.3-inch central touchscreen sits just to the right, but that’s where the Taycan inspiration thankfully runs its course. The vents just below are aimed manually, and below them is a fixed set of climate-control toggles set into a small glass panel, with a central volume knob set just aft.
One of the things we appreciate most appears on the nicely contoured steering wheel, where the mode control dial you can currently only get by ordering Sport Chrono comes standard. Meanwhile, the passenger gets a 10.9-inch display of their own, which is angled and polarized so the driver can’t see it. The idea is to let the front passenger go as far as streaming video, but it’s not yet clear to us if that’ll pass muster with U.S. regulators. Another in-cabin highlight: The wireless cellphone charge pad is cooled.
Pricing and the full gamut of specs won’t be released until the wraps come off and the 2024 Cayenne is formally introduced later this year. All Porsche will say at this point is the prices will be “on par with the predecessor model when adjusted for equipment.” This may be code for a possibly significant increase for the base Cayenne, which now gets standard PASM, LED matrix headlights, 20-inch wheels, the mode switch on the steering wheel, and other goodies. As for the Cayenne S, it’s a question of how much a V-8 transplant costs. And then there’s the E-Hybrid, whose new price will reflect its bigger battery, at the very least. Still, the bionically enhanced 2024 Porsche Cayenne should well be worth it, and it’s sure to cost far less than six million dollars, man.
Source: Reviews - aranddriver.com