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The Porsche Cayenne was the first SUV from Porsche, introduced in the USA in 2003. With the Cayenne, Porsche rewrote the book about what an SUV can and should be. Not content to simply offer a luxury SUV with all of your typical features, Porsche set out to make the Cayenne a Porsche first, and an SUV second. What that means is that Porsche engineers were going to apply the same design philosophies to their first SUV as they used to design world-beating sports cars. The Cayenne was faster on the road, handled better around corners, was more adept off road, and could perform feats unthinkable by nearly every other so-called SUV on the market. And it did this all while being luxurious and ridiculously well-appointed even in base-model trim.

 

Porsche Cayenne 955 (2003-2006)

01_955 Porsche Cayenne S sand dune blast

The first-generation Porsche Cayenne technically covers the first two chassis codes, the 955 and 957—both built on the Volkswagen Group PL71 chassis, which it shares with the VW Touareg and Audi Q7. Porsche designates this as the 9PA chassis, and although the basic unibody construction and core chassis are the same as those used by VW and Audi, the majority of the engines, electronics, and interior components are all unique to the Cayenne. Thanks to these differences, as well as Porsche’s ability to tune the suspension and the utilization of their cutting-edge technology, the driving experience behind the wheel of a Cayenne is quite different than a Touareg or Q7. 

02_955 Porsche Cayenne S interior

The 955 Cayenne launched with the Cayenne S and Turbo, followed by the base model in 2004 and Turbo S in 2006, a one-year option. All 955 Cayennes come equipped with a 6-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, the same unit used in the Q7 and Touareg. The base model V6 Cayenne had an optional manual transmission, which is a fairly rare and somewhat desirable version, thanks to its low-maintenance needs and general reliability. All 955 Cayennes feature a 7,716lb tow rating.

The 955 Cayenne features Porsche Traction Management, an active full-time four-wheel-drive system. Featuring both a high and low-range setting, the PTM system was key to the Cayenne’s off-road prowess. The base torque split is 38% front/62% rear, but up to 100% can be sent to either axle via the multi-plate clutch housed in the transfer case/PTM unit. An optional off-road package added an auto-locking rear differential and other features maximizing off-road performance and traction in snowy conditions.

03_955 Porsche Cayenne Base 3.2 VR6 rear

A standard coil-spring suspension was offered on all models, with an optional active air suspension available on all models and standard on the Turbo and Turbo S. Combined with the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system, the air-ride equipped Cayenne’s are especially adept at both on and off-road performance thanks to these systems.

Interiors are very similar, featuring a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather seating surfaces, and a number of either functional or aesthetic packages that added options like a moonroof, improved lighting, and aluminum, wood, leather, or carbon fiber accents. 

 

Porsche Cayenne 955 Models & Specifications

Model

Years

Engine

Transmission

Air Suspension

Towing Capacity

Cayenne Base

2004-2006

3.2 L V6

247hp/229 lb-ft tq

6-Spd Auto or 6-Spd Manual

Optional

7,716 lbs

Cayenne S

2003-2006

4.5 L V8

335hp/310lb-ft tq

6-Spd Auto

Optional

7,716 lbs

Cayenne Turbo

2003-2006

4.5 L Twin-Turbo V8

444hp/457 lb-ft tq

6-Spd Auto

Standard

7,716 lbs

Cayenne Turbo S

2006

4.5 L Twin-Turbo V8

514hp/531 lb-ft tq

6-Spd Auto

Standard

7,716 lbs

 

Porsche Cayenne 957 (2008-2010)

04_957 Porsche Cayenne front profile

Porsche introduced the 957 Cayenne in 2008 after a one-year gap in sales in 2007. The 957 Cayenne shares the same platform, transmission options, and most key features and functions as the 955 Cayenne. The most significant changes are the power plant options, with a switch to direct-injection, and updated styling.

In terms of looks, the 957 Cayenne started to truly come into its own as a unique model within Porsche. Most of the changes were at the front end, with better-integrated headlights, a new front bumper, hood, and fenders. At the rear, things were limited to new LED taillights and are otherwise very similar to the 955 Cayenne models.  

05_957 Porsche Cayenne GTS rear

Under the hood, things are quite different. All available engines have moved over to direct fuel injection for more power and efficiency, along with increased displacement. Porsche introduced the new, sporty GTS model, based on the Cayenne S, but with an aggressive body kit, larger wheels, and an optional manual transmission. In 2010, the limited-edition Cayenne S Transsyberia combined exclusive parts designed for optimized off-road usage with the higher-output 4.8 L V8 engine from the Cayenne GTS; this capped off the 957 Cayenne range. 

 

On the 957 Cayenne, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) was introduced as an option, which added hydraulically controlled sway bars to the active and self-leveling air suspension, further improving both on and off-road performance. In low-range 4WD, the sway bars can disconnect completely to improve wheel travel and suspension articulation. 

06_957 Porsche Cayenne GTS interior

Aside from the major changes, technological improvements included an updated Porsche Communication Management system (PTM) infotainment control unit, with a touch screen and Bluetooth connectivity. 

Porsche Cayenne 957 Models & Specifications

Model

Years

Engine

Transmission

Air Suspension

Towing Capacity

Cayenne Base

2008-2010

3.6 L V6

286hp/284 lb-ft tq

6-Spd Auto or 6-Spd Manual

Optional

7,716 lbs

Cayenne S

2008-2010

4.8 L V8

380hp/369lb-ft tq

6-Spd Auto

Optional

7,716 lbs

Cayenne GTS

2008-2010

4.8 L V8

399hp/369lb-ft tq

6-Spd Auto or 6-Spd Manual

Optional

7,716 lbs

Cayenne Turbo

2008-2010

4.8 L Twin-Turbo V8

493hp/516 lb-ft tq

6-Spd Auto

Standard

7,716 lbs

Cayenne Turbo S

2009-2010

4.8 L Twin-Turbo V8

542hp/553 lb-ft tq

6-Spd Auto

Standard

7,716 lbs

Cayenne S Transsyberia 

2010

4.8 L V8

399hp/369lb-ft tq

6-Spd Auto

Standard

7,716 lbs

 

Porsche Cayenne 958.1 (2011-2014)

07_Porsche Cayenne S 958.1 front

The second-generation Porsche Cayenne was introduced in 2011 and represented the next big step in the development of the Porsche SUV. The 958 range extended through 2018, with the two versions often designated as 958.1 and 958.2. Based on the VW PL72 platform and shared with the Volkswagen Toureg, the 958 was part evolution and part revolution compared to the original first-generation models. 

Porsche managed the rather neat trick of making the 958.1 Cayenne appear to be visually smaller while being larger and roomier than its predecessor. The overall look was more rounded and was aligned to be visually similar both inside and out to the Porsche Panamera. Despite being larger, the 958 Cayenne is around 500lbs lighter on average, giving it even better acceleration and on-road handling than previous versions. Porsche used lightweight materials where it could and redesigned other components for maximized lightness without losing durability. Performance and fuel economy are notably better across the range. 

08_Porsche Cayenne S 958.1 interior

Mechanically, the 958 has several changes. First and foremost, Porsche did away with the low range four-wheel-drive transfer case, one of the major areas that allowed them to trim weight. The 6-speed Tiptronic automatic was replaced with an 8-speed unit, while a manual transmission remained only available on the Cayenne base model. Power is up on all models, but the bread-and-butter Cayenne S was still V8-based, its engine also shared by the Porsche Panamera. There were also two new engines introduced to the 958.1 Cayenne Model range, an Audi-sourced 3.0T supercharged V6 with hybrid, and a 3.0 TDI diesel engine, which like the 3.0T is an engine also shared with the Audi Q7. 

The interior is a big step up over the 955/957 in terms of modern looks and aesthetics, but core features are similar with power front seats, windows, locks, 60/40 folding rear seats, and leather seating surfaces. Porsche continued to offer an ever-increasing number of options for the Cayenne, with the majority being aesthetic. Other options offered things like bi-Xenon headlights, PASM suspension, park assist, and auto-dimming mirrors. Luxuries like dual-zone climate control are, of course, standard, while PDCC, PASM, and Adaptive Air Suspension are all available options. 

09_Porsche Cayenne S 958.1 rear

Towing capacity remains at 7,716 pounds for most models, except for the base V6 manual with a lower rating of 5,952 pounds. 

Porsche Cayenne 958.1 Models & Specifications

Model

Years

Engine

Transmission

Air Suspension

Towing Capacity

Cayenne Base

2011-2014

3.6 V6

296hp/295 lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto or 6-Spd Manual

Optional

7,716 lbs (Auto)

5,592 lbs (manual)

Cayenne S

2011-2014

4.8 L V8

395hp/369lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto

Optional

7,716 lbs

Cayenne S Hybrid

2011-2014

3.0 V6 S/C Hybrid

370hp/428lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto

Optional

7,716 lbs

Cayenne GTS

2013-2014

4.8 L V8

414hp/380lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto 

Optional

7,716 lbs

Cayenne Diesel 

2013-2014

3.0 TDI Diesel

242hp/428lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto

Optional

7,716 lbs

Cayenne Turbo

2011-2014

4.8 L Twin-Turbo V8

493hp/516 lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto

Standard

7,716 lbs

Cayenne Turbo S

2014

4.8 L Twin-Turbo V8

542hp/553 lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto

Standard

7,716 lbs

 

Porsche Cayenne 958.2 (2015-2018)

10_Porsche Cayenne Turbo S 958.2 front

The second-generation Cayenne continued as a facelifted model from 2015-2018. The 958.2 Cayenne saw major changes in terms of the engine power plants, with the V8 option going away entirely on the popular Cayenne S and GTS. The replacement is a powerful and torquey twin-turbocharged 3.6 L V6, providing both better performance and improved efficiency. The Turbo and Turbo S remain the sole V8 Cayenne options, both of which still weigh in with 4.8 L of displacement and twin-turbochargers. The Cayenne S Hybrid became the E-Hybrid, with a plug-in option and florescent yellow brake calipers to easily distinguish the cutting-edge hybrid from its non-electric brethren. 

11_Porsche Cayenne Turbo S 958.2 rear

The interior of the 958.2 is pretty much the same as the 958.1, save for a new updated steering wheel. Likewise, all the other core components and options carry over from the earlier model, including the 8-speed automatic Tiptronic transmission as the standard and only transmission option. The manual is no longer available on the Cayenne base. The Cayenne Diesel remained on the menu until 2016.

Porsche Cayenne 958.2 Models & Specifications

Model

Years

Engine

Transmission

Air Suspension

Towing Capacity

Cayenne Base

2016-2018

3.6 V6

296hp/295 lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto

Optional

7,716 lbs

Cayenne S

2015-2018

3.6 L Twin-turbo V6

414hp/369lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto

Optional

7,716 lbs

Cayenne S E-Hybrid

2015-2018

3.0 V6 S/C Hybrid

410hp/435lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto

Optional

7,716 lbs

Cayenne GTS

2016-2018

3.6 L Twin-turbo V6

434hp/443lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto 

Optional

7,716 lbs

Cayenne Diesel 

2015-2016

3.0 TDI Diesel

242hp/428lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto

Optional

7,716 lbs

Cayenne Turbo

2016-2018

4.8 L Twin-Turbo V8

513hp/553 lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto

Standard

7,716 lbs

Cayenne Turbo S

2016-2018

4.8 L Twin-Turbo V8

562hp/590 lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto

Standard

7,716 lbs

 

Porsche Cayenne 9Y0 (2019-Present)

13_9Y0 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid SUV front

Porsche introduced the third-generation Cayenne in the United States in 2019. 9Y0 is the current Cayenne on offer built on the VW/Audi group MLBevo platform, used on the Audi Q7, Q8, Lamborghini Urus, and Bentley Bentayga, among many other Audi models. Internally this is designated as the 9Y0 at Porsche. While the latest and greatest Cayenne retains much of its potential off-road prowess, this version is a further step away from the more hardcore first generation with dual-range four-wheel-drive and decidedly beefy build quality. Not to say that the newest Cayennes aren’t durable, but they aren’t as overbuilt for off-road use and have moved more towards the pure luxury and performance end of the market. 

14_9Y0 Porsche Cayenne Coupe GTS Interior

Referencing that move more towards luxury, with the 9Y0 Cayenne, the line between the Porsche Panamera and Cayenne is further blurred. This latest Cayenne is certainly the sleekest and most-handsome to date and fits in nicely within the overall Porsche lineup. The interiors are very similar to the point of being near-identical, with all of the modern features you would expect from a company like Porsche. Touch screen electronics, high-gloss surfaces, and a much more cockpit-like interior set the 9Y0 apart from earlier Porsche SUVs. 

The engine options are once again updated, with forced-induction V6 and V8 engines throughout, but the 8-speed Tiptronic automatic remains, with no switch to DCT PDK options in sight. The 7,000-pound-plus tow rating remains, ensuring the third-generation Cayenne continues to be a great option for owners that have a boat or perhaps a Porsche race car that needs towing to the track.

15_9Y0 Porsche Cayenne Coupe GTS profile

Coil spring suspension remains standard on all models, with an optional active air suspension, except on the Turbo, where air remains standard. Four-wheel-steering is a new-for-2019 option and works to significantly reduce the Cayenne’s turning radius and agility at low speeds, as well as increase stability at high speeds, much like the system used on the GT3 and other performance Porsches. All of the previous high-tech frills like PDCC, PASM, and PSM remain as options or as standard depending on the model, and improved features like an electronically locking active rear differential and torque vectoring improve performance and traction under all circumstances. 

16_9Y0 Porsche Cayenne Coupe GTS rear

Finally, in 2020 Porsche has put out a second version of the Cayenne, the Cayenne Coupe, to compete with the plethora of crossover and SUV options from the competition. The Coupe is essentially a fastback version of the standard Cayenne, with sleeker looks. Versions on offer include most of the normal trims and powerplants, topping out with the Cayenne Coupe Turbo S E-Hybrid, which makes a staggering 670 horsepower and 663 lb-ft of torque and can sprint to 60mph in 3.6 seconds. The GTS model returned for 2021 and is back to V8 power, now with twin-turbochargers.

Porsche Cayenne 9Y0 Models & Specifications

Model

Years

Engine

Transmission

Air Suspension

Towing Capacity

Cayenne Base

2019-Current

3.0 V6 Turbo

335hp/332 lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto

Optional

7,700 lbs

Cayenne S

2019-Current

3.0 L Twin-Turbo V6

434hp/405lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto

Optional

7,700 lbs

Cayenne E-Hybrid

2019-Current

3.0 V6Turbo Hybrid

455hp/516lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto

Optional

7,700 lbs

Cayenne Turbo

2019-Current

4.0 Twin-Turbo V8 541hp/567lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto

Standard

7,700 lbs

Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid

2020-Current

4.0 Twin-Turbo V8 Hybrid 670hp/663lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto

Standard

7,700 lbs

 

Porsche Cayenne Coupe 9Y0 Models & Specifications

Model

Years

Engine

Transmission

Air Suspension

Towing Capacity

Cayenne Coupe

2021-Current

3.0 V6 Turbo

335hp/332 lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto

Optional

7,700 lbs

Cayenne S Coupe 

2021-Current

3.0 L Twin-Turbo V6

434hp/405lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto

Optional

7,700 lbs

Cayenne E-Hybrid Coupe

2020-Current

3.0 V6Turbo Hybrid

455hp/516lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto

Optional

7,700 lbs

Cayenne GTS Coupe

2021-Current

4.0 L Twin-Turbo V8

453hp/457 lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto

Optional

7,700 lbs

Cayenne Turbo Coupe

2021-Current

4.0 Twin-Turbo V8 541hp/567lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto

Standard

7,700 lbs

Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe

2020-Current

4.0 Twin-Turbo V8 Hybrid 670hp/663lb-ft tq

8-Spd Auto

Standard

7,700 lbs


From the first-generation Porsche Cayenne released in 2003, to the newest luxury Cayenne Coupe, there is now a Cayenne for every purpose and in every budget. If you have questions about any of these generations and models, or feel that there's something we should add to this guide, leave them in the comments section below. 

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Written by :
Nathan Brown

FCP Euro's Event Director by day, writer and contributor by night, and wanna-be race car driver on the weekends. Nathan has been working in the VW and Audi performance aftermarket for nearly two decades, and dabbled with Porsche and BMW. He also used to write under the pen-name of Alex Rogan for magazines like Eurotuner, Performance VW, Total 911, and European Car. He has a Cornflower Blue Rabbit Edition GTI daily driver which is surprisingly still mostly stock, and a Mk5 GTI track car which is mostly not. ••• Instagram: @njbrown55


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