Ignore the badge on the front of this vehicle. Pretend you don’t see it like that crazy person trying to get your attention on the subway.
|1. The 3.6L V6 engine produces 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.
2. Along with an 8-speed automatic the Cayenne V6 is available with a 6-speed manual transmission.
3. Fuel economy is rated at 15/22 mpg (city/hwy) with the manual 16/23 mpg with the automatic.
4. Priced from $50,575 after destination charges, our test vehicle came in at $65,655.
Glancing down on the Cayenne’s hood and seeing that familiar crest with the word ‘Stuttgart’ above a rearing horse sends the brain to the wrong place. Images of screaming down the Mulsanne straight or clipping the apexes of the world famous Laguna Seca corkscrew come to mind.
Forget all that. This isn’t one of those Porsches. This is the everyday Porsche. There is no sport focused steering wheel, no heavily bolstered seats, no lowered suspension, no high performance tires and no God-of-Thunder exhaust system. This is a true utility vehicle.
Compared to other models, the base, trim-less Cayenne is the most practical vehicle in the lineup. With seating for five, 62.9 cu-ft of cargo space and the ability to tow 7,716 lbs. (5,952 lbs. with the manual transmission), the Cayenne is ready for daily duty. The base V6 model is the cheapest way not only into the Cayenne family, but into a Porsche altogether. With a starting price of $50,575 after destination charges, the Cayenne undercuts the Boxster by less than a $1,000 to claim this honor. Our test vehicle however rang in at $65,655 after a slew of options were tacked on.
A PRACTICAL PORSCHE
With the exception of the more efficient, yet costly Hybrid and Diesel versions, the Cayenne V6 is the budget-choice amongst Porsche crossovers (until the compact Macan arrives later this year). It is down two cylinders and two gears compared to S, GTS, Turbo and Turbo S, but does boast one very important feature no other Cayenne can; a clutch pedal.
That’s right; standard on the Cayenne is a 6-speed manual transmission paired to a 3.6-liter V6 engine. For those not wanting to shift their own gears, there is an optional 8-speed automatic, but where is the fun in that?
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With a mere 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque being pumped out of the great sounding direct injection V6, the 4,398 lb crossover is not going to win many drag races. But, Porsche still claims this is enough grunt to power the Cayenne from 0-60 mph in 7.1 seconds and continue onto top speed of 142 mph. It is not, however, recommended to attempt top speed while towing a travelling trailer.
ROWING YOUR OWN GEARS MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE
The 6-speed manual transmission features a dual mass flywheel and Porsche’s Drive-Off Assistant, which is basically a hill holder system.
The engine feels down on power most of the time, but thankfully the manual transmission redeems the driving experience to still make this Porsche fun-to-drive. It restores nearly the same level of driving joy as the V8-powered Cayenne S possesses, just don’t expect the same fluidity of the 911 Carrera’s 7-speed manual; it is not the smoothest unit. Engagements are a bit clunky and require some effort when sliding into gear. That said, for a crossover this is a very good manual transmission, but it is not ‘sporty’. The same can be said of the Cayenne V6 in general.
Officially rated at 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway when equipped with the manual transmission and 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway with the 8-speed automatic, after a week of driving our manual equipped test vehicle averaged an impressive 20.4 mpg.
COMFORT OVER SPORT
The base Cayenne comes equipped with steel springs in lieu of the option air suspension that features Porsche’s excellent Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM). The steel units blend a fairly neutral balance between ride comfort and handling. The V6 is not as handling-focused as the Cayenne GTS with PASM. On the plus side, the base V6 Cayenne’s ride is smoother than the air suspension we tested recently on a GTS model, even in the ‘Comfort’ setting.
Traction was never an issue in the Cayenne thanks to the standard all-wheel drive, while keeping it upright and safe proved a simple task for the latest stability control systems and big brakes; 6 pistons up front and 4 pistons in the rear. Regrettably, we did not have a chance to take it off-road and test out the manual locking differentials.
PRIM, PROPER AND POSH INSIDE
Inside, the Cayenne looks like a proper luxury machine. Everything is power operated and finished in high quality materials. Features include an eight-way adjustable memory driver’s seat, leather seating surfaces, five 12 volt socket outlets (because you can never get enough), a power tailgate, a 7-inch touchscreen color display and a refrigerated glove compartment. The V6 Cayenne uses a conventional steering wheel complete with toggles and switches; no button-less Porsche sport-wheel here.
Like all Cayennes, passenger comfort is top notch. Four people could spend hours inside the cabin and three wide in the back is fairly accommodating. The actual seats are pleasant, but don’t quite match the level of comfort found in some of the Cayenne’s various seat upgrade options. The only place this Porsche really falters compared to its competitors is in cargo capacity; down 12.2 cu-ft to the BMW X5 and 17.4 cu-ft to the Mercedes-Benz ML.
Outside, the V6 Cayenne differs little visually from other trims. There are HID front lights with automatic static range adjustment. Below them are the usual Cayenne LED daytime driving lights with integrated position light, and turn signals. Our test vehicle came equipped with optional SportDesign II 20-inch wheels wrapped in 275/45R20 winter rubber. On the back hatch of the Cayenne is an integrated rear spoiler set above adaptive LED tail lights.
These exterior styling touches emphasize what is a true luxury crossover. Porsche has done a great job with this vehicle and it appears, despite the lack of sportiness for the base model, consumers have bought into the idea. When similarly equipped, it falls in line price wise with six cylinder versions of the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz M-Class.
It may seem like an oxymoron, but in base form, the Cayenne actually is a good value; as long as restraint is shown when ticking off options. Plus, it is still offered with that endangered species known as ‘the manual transmission’. That unique feature alone makes this yet another Porsche we want to park in our driveway.