Ewan Kennedy road tests and reviews the 2003, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2016 Porsche Cayenne as a used buy.

When sportscar maker Porsche entered the SUV market with the big Cayenne SUV in June 2003 many thought it would ruin the company's image. How wrong they were, the SUVs (there's also the smaller Porsche Macan) saved the German marque's bacon financially, outselling the pure sports models and permitting added R&D money to be poured into the sports models. Not to forget the Le Mans race cars.

In the design of the Cayenne, Porsche collaborated with Volkswagen and Audi, (think Touareg and Q7) to trim costs. Unlike the others, that aimed for quality on-road cruisers with reasonable off-road ability, Porsche concentrated on building a sports wagon.

Porsche initially gave the Cayenne a family resemblance to the 911, coming up with something that looked like a 911 on steroids.

Having said that, the original Cayenne has a two-speed transfer case to provide low range for extreme off-road driving. Can't say we've ever come across one way out in the bush during any of our 4WD travels there...

Porsche initially gave the Cayenne a family resemblance to the 911, coming up with something that looked like a 911 on steroids. The Series 2 Cayenne, launched here in July 2010, still has a bit of 911 in is theme, but is more SUV than before. Which makes sense as SUVs were becoming acceptable family wagons by that time.

The Series 2 Cayenne is larger than the original, this particularly shows up in the back seat area. Usefulness was further enhanced by the fitment of a sliding back seat to allow you to juggle passenger and cargo carrying capacity. Additionally, the rear-seat backrest can be adjusted for rake to further let you tailor your space.

The S Series 2 did away with the two-speed transfer case from the first model. That, and others changes have resulted in a weight reduction of about 12 per cent. This not only makes it slightly nimbler, but also lowers fuel consumption and emissions.

Cayenne was launched in Australia with a 4.5-litre petrol V8 in either naturally aspirated or turbocharged format. Even more power, 383 instead of 331kW, arrived in the Cayenne Turbo S in February 2006.

New designs of V8s with a capacity of 4.8 litres were introduced in April 2007, again as turbo and non-turbo engines. A 3.6-litre petrol V6 became optional at the same time, while it doesn't provide the exhilaration of the V8s it does have enough performance to suit some owners.

A V6 turbo-diesel displacing 3.0 litres joined the range in April 2009. With up to 550 Nm of torque, it performs well and turbo lag isn't too bad. Naturally fuel consumption is lower than on the the petrol V8s.

An interesting hybrid option is offered in the Series 2 Cayenne S. This uses a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol engine teamed with an electric motor. However, it costs significantly more than the equivalent Cayenne S in petrol format – and uses more fuel than the turbo-diesel. Though displaying Porsche's immense engineering ability the Cayenne hybrid didn't sell well in Australia.

The great majority of Australian imports have a six-speed tiptronic automatic transmission, though a few six-speed manuals were brought in.

Porsche has had a presence in Australia for many decades and runs an efficient dealer network. These focus on major population centres so if you have any problems out back o'Bourke you might have to get the Cayenne trailered back to the big smoke. Not a cheap exercise.

The Porsche Cayenne has more off-road ability than you would expect, but very few will have been bush bashing.

Many Cayennes will have been serviced only by Porsche dealers. You will probably be asked to pay more, but it's money well spent. Follow this up by keeping to the same servicing routine and you will benefit at trade-up time.

Insurance charges are higher than average, but not outrageously so considering the type of buyers attracted to Porsche Cayennes. You will find quite a difference on quotes so it's worth shopping around. As always make sure you do accurate comparisons between companies.

What to look for

Be sure to get a quote on even apparently insignificant problems as Porsche repairs can be pretty expensive.

Check the interior for signs of rough usage, particularly in the back where bored kids may have kicked it about.

Make sure the engine starts easily and settles into a steady idle almost immediately. The diesel isn't quite as good as the petrol, but isn't far behind them.

The Porsche Cayenne has more off-road ability than you would expect, but very few will have been bush bashing. If you do come across one that's looks as though it's been off-road it's probably best to pass it up unless it's price is lower than average.

Not many Cayennes are used as heavy-duty towing vehicles, but if you inspect one for sale at a horse riding school, or similar, it might pay to ask a few questions.

Cayennes with V6 engines were recalled in 2008 because of a possible fuel line problem that could lead to a fire. Check the problem has been rectified speaking to a Porsche dealer.