2008 Porsche Cayenne S
2008 Porsche Cayenne S. Click image to enlarge
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2008 Porsche Cayenne S

I think I’m having a severe case of deja ‘ute.

When Cayenne3 rolled into my driveway, I was most curious as to how much this SUV would compare to the Volkswagen Touareg. Would the Porsche interior design-niks be able to justify a lofty MSRP of $91,655 for this week’s Cayenne S? Let’s hit the key fob and get to the job.

The Cockpit

Does this steering wheel make my cockpit look fat? Yes, and I don’t care if I have to sleep on the couch. The three-spoke wheel has audio control tabs that seem more suited to the finger sausages of The Incredible Hulk. Dual Tiptronic shifter tabs for the six-speed automatic incorporate up and downshift modes on each tab. The console-mount shifter also possesses a manu-gate. A surprising omission at this price level is the lack of a power function for column positioning; you’re dropping a manual lever to tilt and telescope.

2008 Porsche Cayenne S
2008 Porsche Cayenne S
Top photo: steering column adjustment is manually-operated; navigation system is the same as those found in other Porsche models. Click image to enlarge

The cruise control stalk is found at the eight o’clock position. The wiper stalk contains the access keys for the vehicle information display, which is surrounded by full analog instrumentation on the instrument panel. The driver’s door contains the power heated mirror controls, with power fold-in operation. Windows are automatic lift/descent for the front panes only. The power liftgate release will raise the gate entirely, when depressed and held for the lift duration.

The Centre Stack

The Navi system is the corporate grade found in the more spirited/less cargo-savvy Nurburgring cousins, with impressive map clarity. But it’s high time that a Bluetooth connectivity system hit the standard equipment list. The HVAC controls are hidden behind a roll-down logo-stamped door, with dual-zone comfort that can also modulate fan speed. A push-release drawer reveals the ashtray, with lighter/12-volt powerpoint. The Porsche Stability Management switch is easily found at eye level.


I was hoping for the usual cool of flip-up armrests with ample cavities, a common sight throughout the rest of the Porsche stable. Both front and rear doors get the expected pockets, but not bottle holder detents. The front cupholder uses a removable gripper bladder. It works adequately, though the quality of construction and projected longevity of the bladder material both appear to be weak at best. A floor-level slide-out tray cupholder in the rear seating area uses spring-loaded cincher tabs, with a rubber-floored cubby above, and a 12-volt powerpoint below. The glovebox is ample, lockable, and can also receive HVAC cooling within the flock-lined interior. The two-compartment centre console is void of inspiration. The rear seat centre armrest has a lid-hid cubby, though be wary of opening the pass-through door. If you do, the ski bag starts to unravel. Good luck getting it back into its diminutive cavity.

The Overhead

2008 Porsche Cayenne S
2008 Porsche Cayenne S
2008 Porsche Cayenne S
Top photo: visors are lighted and feature secondary visors for full sunblock; middle photo: spare tire cover uses a handy prop rod. Click image to enlarge

The S gets a drop-down sunglass holder, with dial-in opening size for the sunroof, and Homelink tabs. The visors sport perimeter lighting for the vanity mirrors, as well as a second visor for full sunblock, handy when you’re busy with curvy mountain roads.

Seat Treat

The 12-way driver’s seat gets three positioning presets, while both front seats receive five-step dial control for heating.

Spare Care

A sensible prop rod allows easy access to the collapsible spare tire, and required tools. Porsche will change it for you, for the first four years or 80,000 kilometres.

Cargo Embargo

Much like the Touareg, the Cayenne uses the most annoying choice of headrest removal, to achieve a flat load floor. The tailgate has a power-close switch, which can also vary how much the gate opens for tight quarters. There is a robust cargo cover, as well as sturdy floor cleats for cargo tie down. Access panels in the roof suggest optional cargo management systems, as do the roof channels.

The Mill

There’s a 4.8-litre, 385 horsepower V8 under there, somewhere. Outside of oil and washer fluid, this is where membership in an exclusive club equals exclusive dealer servicing. Think about that in terms of elongated shop labour rates before you sign the paperwork, if you’re planning on post-warranty ownership.

The Verdict

I know the Porschephiles will fillet me for this, but the Cayenne is simply a Touareg ‘ute with enhanced breeding. The interior is the dead giveaway. Exceptional road manners and drool-worthy acceleration aside, the Cayenne fails to deliver the expected Porsche Design quotient within. It feels three-quarters finished, which is why it only gets three out of five stars.

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