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2024 Porsche Cayenne Prototype driving

Pre-First Drive: 2024 Porsche Cayenne Development Vehicles Show Promise

Changes abound for refreshed SUV, including the return of the V8 Cayenne S

  • We got to sample the refreshed 2024 Cayenne much earlier in its lifecycle than normal.
  • The hybrid versions of the Cayenne get the biggest updates.
  • Though the interior was covered, it will feature more technology and multiple displays à la the Taycan.

Most of the vehicles that we get to drive and test are more or less finished products, either fresh off the production line or very close to that in terms of specification, materials and performance. But there's so much that goes into building a vehicle that happens before that point that we don't usually get to see. That's why it was so exciting for Porsche to give us a bit of a peek behind the curtain of the refreshed 2024 Cayenne — to drive some early prototypes and see how the SUV is coming along.

2024 Porsche Cayenne exterior

What we drove

Porsche had five different Cayenne models for us to rotate between as we spent the day driving the roads mostly around Malibu, California. They included a base Cayenne, a Cayenne E-Hybrid, two varieties of the Cayenne S (one with steel springs, the other with the new air suspension), and the still completely bonkers Turbo GT. All of the prototypes that we drove came covered in exterior camouflage and cloth mats on the interiors that hid most of those updates, though some screens and updated climate controls were visible.

Despite being blanketed in camo, I could still pick out some of the changes. The exterior of the Cayenne has the requisite new wheel, tire and color options, but for the most part it will look pretty similar to the current model. The easiest changes to spot will be those on the rear, where the lights have been tweaked and the license plate dropped down the rear bumper as it is on all of the current Cayenne Coupe models.

Powering up

All of the Cayenne variants get a boost in horsepower this refresh (specs are based on European models):

  • Cayenne: 350 horsepower, 369 lb-ft of torque (+15 hp)
  • Cayenne S: 469 hp, 443 lb-ft (+35 hp)
  • Turbo GT: 651 hp, 627 lb-ft (+20 hp)
  • E-Hybrid: 464 total system hp, 479 lb-ft (+9 hp)

The biggest updates under the hood are found in the Cayenne S and the E-Hybrid models. The Cayenne S drops the twin-turbo V6 from the current vehicle for a larger and more-in-charge twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8. Yes please. It adds a pleasing amount of low-end grunt and upgrades the Cayenne S' soundtrack considerably as well. That extra 119 hp over the base Cayenne also gives the S some needed differentiation, and though the extra cylinders are a welcome addition, we'll have to wait to see how much they cost the S in terms of fuel efficiency.

The two Cayenne S models we drove also illustrated the stark difference between the Cayenne's standard steel spring suspension and the new two-chamber/two-valve damper active air suspension. That's a bit of word salad, but Porsche says the new suspension allows for a wider range of variation between suspension modes and that it works better in every way than the last air suspension: smoother over bumps and potholes with better low-speed comfort while offering improved handling performance and less body roll.

For a base setup, the steel spring suspension is quite good and keeps the Cayenne comfortably in the upper echelon of performance SUVs from both a handling and ride perspective. But the air suspension is something special. Comfortable and isolated for daily driving, it tightens up at the drop of a hat when you flip it into Sport mode, where the Cayenne corners more like a sports car than the comfortable midsize SUV. The engineers on hand told me the suspension tuning was pretty much done on that vehicle and, indeed, it felt production-ready.

2024 Porsche Cayenne rear

Adding more juice

For 2024, the E-Hybrid gets increased battery capacity and a more powerful electric motor. The battery jumps up to 25.9 kWh from 17.9 kWh, and the larger size, plus Porsche's claim of the powertrain's more efficient operation, results in electric-only range doubling to nearly 50 miles. (An official estimate is still forthcoming.) That's in addition to the electric motor churning out 174 horsepower on its own, up from 134 hp.

Though the E-Hybrid's software wasn't quite ready for prime time (at one point it estimated we had a full battery and over 100 miles of electric range), the German engineers on hand said that the powertrain tuning should be very close to ready. And it drives delightfully, with rapid acceleration and brakes that seamlessly managed the transition between regenerative and mechanical braking. My only complaint was that the Chinese market will get a version of the E-Hybrid with a four-cylinder engine, and that should be even more efficient.

The system also includes an 11-kW onboard AC charger, a big improvement over the previously standard 3.6-kW charger or optional 7.2-kW upgrade. The higher-capacity charger allows the battery to refill up faster while plugged in, and Porsche says that using the regenerative braking or the E-Charge driving mode will fill the battery faster than in the previous Cayenne PHEV as well. In the E-Charge driving mode, the vehicle draws some power from the gas engine to charge the battery while you're on the move. Porsche's engineers clued me in on a bit of an Easter egg: If you want to charge the battery the fastest, put the vehicle into its Sport Plus drive mode as it keeps the gas engine running all the time and disengages the auto stop-start system. Neat trick.

This is only the beginning of the electrification story; Porsche told us that the 2024 Cayenne lineup would include three plug-in hybrid options by the end of the model year.

Screen and roll

Changes to the 2024 Cayenne are most drastic from inside the cabin. We weren't allowed to take interior photos and I was unable to get a complete picture of the revamped dashboard due to the camouflage, but from what I was able to poke around and see, the changes will bring the Cayenne's look and feel much closer to that of the Taycan.

There's a wide 12.7-inch curved display behind the steering wheel and a 12.3-inch touchscreen in the center (the latter is the same as the current Cayenne's). A 10.9-inch passenger display is also available. Below the center screen is a digital panel that houses most of the climate functions, but thankfully the fan speed control is physical rather than virtual.

Porsche also says that the wireless charging pad is getting a significant power boost and adds a fan that turns on when charging to keep your phone from getting too hot, a problem we've noticed in other vehicles if you use wireless charging pads for longer periods of time.

Also getting a needed upgrade in this refresh: standard safety features. That list now includes lane keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control and a blind-spot warning system. A surround-view camera system, night vision assist and evasive steering assistance are just a few of the available safety options.

Edmunds says

These prototypes were by no means finished products, but they did show that the refreshed 2024 Cayenne has substantive changes and promises significant improvements over what was already a highly rated SUV.

2024 Porsche Cayenne Prototype front