Used car buying guide: Porsche Cayenne

2 years ago - 20 January 2021, autocar
Used car buying guide: Porsche Cayenne
The second Porsche Cayenne was more sophisticated than the original and ace to drive. Now you can buy one for the price of a new Ford Fiesta

You might very well turn your nose up at the prospect of a high-riding, diesel-drinking Porsche, but you might just lower it again when you hear that such a vehicle could cost as little as £13,500, crack nearly 40mpg on a long jaunt and provide a more than agreeably luxurious driving environment.

The second-generation (958) Cayenne – lighter, less offensively styled and more efficient than the original – is what you might call a lot of car for the money these days, particularly in its earlier forms.

That £13,500 would buy you a 2010 model with the Volkswagen Group's 3.0-litre diesel V6, packing 245bhp and 406lb ft for a 0-62mph time of 7.6sec and a top speed of 136mph – hardly figures that would worry the Carrera GT with which it shares some facial features but more than enough to instil confidence in the left-hand lane of an autobahn.

Performance aside, you might consider the acres of tan leather, the Bose sound system and the dual-zone climate control fitted to this particular example as an incentive to take the plunge into cheap Porsche ownership, and there's the added bonus that the Cayenne's relatively staid underpinnings will remain a mystery to all but the keenest-eared.

And the fun doesn't stop there: this is by far the most dynamically engaging diesel-powered SUV you will find for the money. If you're feeling particularly flush, there was the much spicier Diesel S with a 4.1-litre V8 that boosted output by 145bhp yet managed to almost replicate the entry-level oil-burner's impressive frugality.

Of course, diesel is hardly the universal fuel of choice that it used to be in this segment (it accounted for 80% of Cayenne Mk2 sales but is no longer even an option on the current Mk3 any more), so let's consider some of the other powerplants on offer.

The most exciting is the top-rung twin-turbocharged 4.8-litre petrol V8 that endowed the Cayenne with up to 562bhp and 590lb ft in hot Turbo S form and won acclaim for injecting ludicrous performance into the bargain without notably diminishing daily refinement.

You will have to make a good deal more fuel stops, of course, but then you can make up for lost time with a 0-62mph time of 4.0sec and a top speed of 176mph.

There's also a hybrid powertrain for the more economically minded to consider. Pre-2014 examples pair a supercharged petrol V6 with a 46bhp electric motor for electric-only running at speeds of up to 37mph, but with economy figures not dissimilar to the generally cheaper diesel, it's not our pick of the range.

The plug-in hybrid powertrain ushered in with the 2014 facelift brought welcome usability and performance enhancements, boosting EV range from a paltry 1.6 miles to a decent 22 and official CO2 emissions dropping from 193g/km to 79g/km – which reduced the VED rate from £295 per year to nothing.

How to get one in your garage

An owner's view

Paul Franklin: "I first bought a Cayenne in 2010 – a 55-plate 3.2-litre petrol – but upgraded to a 2015 model in 2019, mainly because the emissions laws in my area meant I needed a Euro 6 diesel, as there weren't many petrol models available. Although the power is similar between the two, I do prefer the petrol, but the diesel is great for our trips to Devon and Cornwall."

Buyer beware...

■ Engine: The epoxy coolant tube sealant can degrade on V8 petrols, potentially causing overheating, so take a long test drive and check for moisture. Oil leaks are a common issue, particularly on diesels, and in the worst-case scenario necessitate resealing of the engine block – astoundingly expensive (£10,000) out of warranty. Changes to the diesel engine in 2013 made it noticeably quieter and smoother.

■ Bodywork: The headlights mist up in wet weather, but this is more a design quirk than a fault. If they're becoming excessively cloudy or failing to clear after a couple of hours, the vent tubes at the rear of the cluster may need clearing. Cheaper models sit on conspicuously basic-looking 18in wheels, but you can pick up a set of Turbo or GTS-spec 20in or 21in items for less than £1000.

■ Gearbox: Most cars will never have been driven off road, which is good, but check for symptoms of worn gearbox control valves: hesitation before shifting and a harsh jolt into gear. Porsche never offered a PDK 'box and all 2014-on cars have an eight-speed tiptronic. Manual 'boxes are like gold dust.

■ Suspension and brakes: Carbon-ceramic brakes are desirable because they last longer than the standard items, don't shed brake dust all over the wheels and considerably improve stopping performance. Just be ready for a huge bill when they need refreshing. As for suspension, seek out Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) or Active Suspension Management (PASM) if you're a keen canyon-carver.

■ Interior: The options list was seemingly endless, so get familiar with contemporary price lists and rule out any cars not equipped with things you want. More technology means more to test, so spend some time making sure every button and switch does the job it's supposed to do.

Also worth knowing...

Porsche's Approved Warranty scheme offers comprehensive repair coverage to cars that are less than 14 years old and have covered less than 125,000 miles, following a 111-point eligibility check. If buying a car that's not covered, it could be well worth it for the peace of mind that serious faults can be fixed hassle-free. You'll have to fork out for Porsche-approved parts, though.