Automotive

Second-hand buyer’s guide: Porsche Cayenne

Porsche cayenne Saudi

If you’re a car fan, you’ll no doubt have noticed that luxury cars from not that long ago can be picked up extremely cheaply in the Gulf. It’s obvious why – every year, luxury car brands sell truck-loads of their latest cars, and the luxury cars these buyers used to own make their way into the second-hand market.

As a result, if you’re willing to shop around a little, you can get properly good second-hand cars for a steal – simply by virtue of there being so much supply. But should you actually go through with such a plan? Well, that’s what this new weekly series is all about – we’re here to educate you on the promise and pitfalls that second-hand cars can buy. With these buying guides, you’ll know what to look out for in second-hand cars, and you’ll come to understand if a deal is too good to be true.

So without further ado, our first second-hand buyer’s guide tackles the Porsche Cayenne.

The Porsche Cayenne has been around for a long time now. And while the new version is the epitome of a performance luxury SUV, it’s worth noting that the original car was always highly celebrated for its abilities. Here in the Middle East, buyers noted the plus points of the Cayenne immediately, and the car became an instant sales success. And though the earliest versions are now over 10 years old, it’s worth pointing out that the original Cayenne still represents an awful lot of car – it’s big, luxurious, fast and robust. The tech isn’t even that dated, thanks to the fact that, at the time, Porsche packed the car with the most advanced gadgets available.

If that piques you’re interest, then you might also like to know that you can buy a used Porsche Cayenne for as low as AED 20,000. But is that a good idea? Read on for our guide to buying second-hand Cayennes.

Engine

When the Cayenne launched, you got a choice of a 4.5-litre V8, a 4.5-litre V8 Turbo, or else a 3.2-litre V6. Most of the cheapest second-hand Cayennes feature the standard 4.5-litre V8, and they’ll have done a serious number of kilometres. This one, for example, is going for AED 20,000, but it’s done 308,000 kilometres.

That doesn’t bode well when considering the early Cayenne’s reported issues related to engine wear. The 4.5-litre V8 is particular known for being less reliable over long periods of time – there are numerous reports online of bore-scoring, with many people having to replace the entire block. That’s an expensive proposition, defeating the point of buying the Cayenne so cheaply.

Instead, our pick of the bunch would the entry-level 3.2-litre V6 option. It’s less of a thrilling drive, providing a 0-100 km/h time of over 8 seconds, but it’s the safer choice because the engine is more reliable.

Suspension

When it first launched, the Porsche Cayenne came with steel springs as standard, or you could have air suspension as an added extra (unless you bought the Turbo, which came with air suspension as standard). These days, air suspension is a must on any second-hand Cayenne. The system automatically lowers the car when you pick up speed, improving high-speed stability, and it greatly improves the harsh ride offered up by the standard steel springs.

All Cayennes sold after 2007 came with air suspension, so if you’re buying in the period before that, make sure that you get one with air suspension. Without it, an old Cayenne really won’t feel like the luxury car it’s supposed to be.

Brakes

The Cayenne is a fast SUV, and that’s in spite of the fact that it weighs over two tonnes. This means that its brakes have to work extremely hard. This is true of current Cayennes, and it’s true of earlier ones, too. Unfortunately, those earlier ones will now have had their brakes faded to the point of uselessness. And replacements don’t come cheap – Porsche brakes are still Porsche brakes, after all. When you’re buying, check with the seller when the brakes were fitted, and double check that against the service history. Avoid models with brakes that are over five years old, because you’ll likely have to replace them sooner rather than later.

Electronics

Earlier Porsche Cayennes were pretty advanced in their day, coming with a lot of stuff that you wouldn’t find standard on even today’s middling saloons. Unfortunately, plenty of that tech was still in its infancy, and some of it doesn’t age well. Many early Cayennes are known for having electrical gremlins, some of which can be pretty serious.

Less serious issues include the fact that the radio aerial is located in the rear heated screen. On some models, if you have turn that heated screen on, the radio will cut out, signalling you’ll need a replacement rear screen. That’s a fairly tame gremlin that can be worked around, but others can get pretty scary pretty quickly – there are all too many reports of engine electronics going bust, resulting in full-on engine failure.

There isn’t much you can do to ensure you aren’t buying a Cayenne with electrical problems. Some dealers recommend simply ignoring any model built before 2007. But if you’re set on really getting a good deal on an older model, just be extremely thorough when going over the service history, and watch out for any warning lights on the dash when you’re taking it for a test drive.

Tyres

As is the case with the brakes, Cayenne tyres come under a lot of stress due to the sheer weight of the car, and the fact that Cayenne drivers tend to use the speed that’s available to them. Tyre wear can set in much more quickly on Cayennes than on more regular cars, so be sure that the model you’re buying has been fitted with new rubber reasonably recently.

Verdict

You could avoid most of the issues described above by opting for a Cayenne built after 2007, but that will inevitably drive the price up. If you’re set on scoring yourself a deal with a pre-2007 model, go through the service history with a fine-tooth comb, and be ready for engine and electrical faults. Also remember that repairs on Porsches don’t come cheap – even when you’re dealing with a 10-year-old model.

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