You’d be wrong to characterize the upcoming 2024 Porsche Cayenne mid-cycle update as just a facelift, as it’s more of a heart-lung transplant in the form of significant changes to many of its powertrains. The engineering team have also provided hip and knee replacements in the form of meaningful tire and suspension adjustments. But this is not a geriatric maintenance measure. They are better thought of as bionic enhancements meant to advance the state of the Cayenne.
Moreover, the elements of cosmetic facelift are impossible to assess. The prototype we rode was effectively camouflaged with toy can black paint, mascara applied to the bug-eyed headlights and strategically taped taillights. That said, the revised LED headlights and taillights are hard to get excited about, but one key element does stand out from all of them. The Cayenne’s stance is reinforced by the larger diameter tires. In off-roader terms, it measures 31 inches, which makes it an inch larger than before.
The reason for this is not the increased off-road prowess but rather the higher levels of rolling comfort and mechanical grip due to the larger contact patch. Although the base wheel changed from 19 to 20, many wheels are the same diameter as before, which not only means there is more sidewall but the tire assembly also holds more air, which in turn allows Porsche to earn compound interest by lowering tire pressure. bit. Granted, the prototype sticks like Velcro but mostly filters out the worst texture that the rough, tortured tarmac of Malibu’s narrowest canyons has to offer.
Partial credit goes up a rung higher, as now even the base model comes standard with PASM adaptive dampers. The Cayennes’ air-sprung steps it up again, with a rethought spring featuring two chambers instead of three. This apparent deficit is actually a step forward as the PASM dampers now have different rebound and compression adjustment valves, as opposed to the current single valve which attempts to regulate both. The result is much finer control and the ability to better optimize damping characteristics in response to specific circumstances and driver 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.
While the updates above are more important in everyday driving, the revitalized and revamped powertrain is the big difference here. Major changes were deemed necessary to meet ever-advancing emission regulations, but as is often the case with modern powertrains, engine management strategies developed to burn fuel more completely also tended to open the door to more power. As is the case here.
At the bottom of the range, the Cayenne’s base 3.0-liter turbo V-6 gets 14-hp, making 349 horsepower instead of the current 335 ponies. The increase in torque is even more noticeable, with the 332-369 pound-feet jump representing an 11 percent increase. Meanwhile, the twin-turbo V-8 that powers the absolutely insane Turbo GT at the top of the food chain will soon produce 651 horsepower instead of just 631 horsepower. Torque remains unchanged at 626 pound-feet, suggesting a possible capacity limit for the built-in eight-speed Tiptronic S transmission.
The biggest change occurred in midfield. The Cayenne S, currently powered by the unpopular 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine that produces 434 horsepower and 405 pound-feet, is returning to its V-8 roots. Its new short-stroke twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 puts out 469 horses and 443 pound-feet, which represents nearly 10 percent more of each. We could go on about the impressive throttle response and effortless passing power, but our more childish sensibilities are delighted by the V-8’s signature idle and the thunder it can emit echoing off tunnel walls.
Meanwhile, Mr. Spock in us really likes what Porsche is doing with the E-Hybrid which incidentally is a plug-in hybrid. The combined total power goes up slightly, from 455 to 464 horsepower. The detuned 3.0-liter turbo V-6’s role has been reduced, but there’s a big increase in half the power of the electric powertrain. The electric motor now contributes 174 horsepower instead of 134, and is backed by a much larger battery, now with a gross capacity of 25.9 kWh instead of 17.9 kWh (roughly 20.6 kWh usable versus 14.3 kWh on current E-Hybrid). The revised brake-blending system allows the regenerative braking to last to a complete stop, and in our driving, the E-Hybrid’s regenerative braking power and smoothness did show a marked improvement.
The goals of the overhaul were increased electric-only range, extended EV mode persistence and better petrol engine mpg. We can’t talk about their efficiency, and a new EPA rating isn’t available yet. Porsche suggests it could get double the WLTP range in Europe. Here in the US, the electric range is currently only 17 miles. We wouldn’t expect to see that double, but we do 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 will have the ability to charge faster too, with a new standard onboard charger rated at 11.0 kW instead of this year’s pathetic 3.6 kW standard unit and a lackluster 7.2 kW upgrade at a cost. $1230.
Tweak in the Cabin
Porsche hasn’t left the interior out of any of these. The Cayenne will receive a curved instrument panel and a new Taycan-inspired center display. The 12.7-inch instrument display is excellent, and right beside it is a Taycan-style toggle gear selector. The familiar 12.3-inch central touchscreen sits right to the right, but that’s where the Taycan’s inspiration runs into itself. The vents just below are manually routed, and underneath are a fixed set of climate control switches screwed into a small glass panel, with the center volume knob mounted just behind.
One of the things we appreciate most is the nicely contoured steering wheel, where the mode control dial that you can currently only get by ordering a Sport Chrono comes as standard. Meanwhile, passengers get their own 10.9-inch screen that is angled and polarized so the driver can’t see it. The idea is to let the front passenger stream video, but it’s not yet clear to us whether that will be approved by US regulators. Another highlight in the cabin: The wireless phone charging pad is cooled.
Pricing and overall specs won’t be released until the cases are unwrapped and the 2024 Cayenne is officially unveiled later this year. All that Porsche will say at this point is that prices will be “on par with its predecessor models when adjusted for equipment.” This may be code for a possibly significant upgrade for the base Cayenne, which now gets standard PASM, LED matrix headlights, 20-inch wheels, a mode switch on the steering wheel and other goodies. As for the Cayenne S, the question is how much a V-8 transplant will cost. And then there’s the E-Hybrid, whose new price reflects at least its larger battery. Still, the bionically enhanced 2024 Porsche Cayenne should be worth it, and it’s got to be a lot less than six million dollars, man.