Porsche Cayenne gets a high-tech, driver-focused interior makeover

Porsche is preparing to give the Cayenne major updates inside and out. We haven’t seen what the SUV looks like on the outside yet, but the Stuttgart-based company released the first official images of an interior redesigned with an eye on technology and driver involvement.

Designers drew inspiration from other members of the Porsche family, including the Taycan and the 911, to give the Cayenne’s interior a nip-and-tuck. One of the biggest changes is found right between the front seats: the gear selector has moved from the center console to a panel neatly located between the digital instrument cluster and the infotainment system’s touchscreen. It’s much smaller than before — it looks a lot like the unit fitted to the current-generation 911 — and this shift allowed Porsche to redesign the center console. Still flanked by two handles, it now houses a glass surface with buttons used to adjust the climate control system, a more generously-sized storage bin and black trim.

The driver faces a redesigned, 911-inspired steering wheel and a curved, free-standing 12.6-inch digital instrument cluster. It’s fully digital; Porsche got rid of the analog tachometer found in the current-generation Cayenne. There’s no binnacle over the cluster, like in the Taycan, and the company explains an anti-glare filter ensures the information displayed is visible regardless of lighting conditions. Up to seven configurations are available; they range from a fairly classic layout with a central tachometer to a new, minimalist mode that Porsche created to reduce distractions.

While the infotainment system’s 12.3-inch touchscreen remains embedded into the dashboard, there’s now an additional (and optional) 10.9-inch display positioned in the front passenger’s line of sight. This feature serves several purposes: On one hand, it lets the front passenger enter a destination into the navigation system or change the music so that the driver can stay focused on the road ahead. On the other hand, it also lets the front passenger stream videos and other digital content to pass the time. Porsche assures us that a special filter ensures the driver isn’t able to see what’s being displayed on the passenger-side touchscreen. There’s no word yet on how much this option will cost. Look to the left of the new digital cluster and you’ll see a new start/stop button instead of Porsche’s traditional key-like twist fob sticking out. We’ll dearly miss the lovely, tactile action of turning on Porsches if this is the direction for the future.

Porsche calls this new layout Driver Experience.

“There are a lot of companies talking about user experience, and because we have a big sports car heritage — we are a sports car brand — we decided to call it Driver Experience. For us, the driver is definitely the most important person in the car,” explained Ivo van Hulten, the director of the Driver Experience program. He added that customer feedback shaped most of the updates made to the Cayenne, which is to be expected, but interestingly the company analyzed comments pertaining to the full range, not just those sent by current SUV drivers.

The list of standard features grows with a cooled smartphone storage area that doubles as a wireless charger and USB-C ports for the front and rear passengers. New trim pieces, including a horizontal strip that emphasizes the dashboard’s width, round out the changes inside.

We’ll need to be patient to find out how designers have updated the Cayenne’s exterior, though a sketch pictured in the gallery at the top of this post shows what looks like a 911-esque light bar running across the back end. There should be major changes on the specifications sheet as well. Porsche has already hinted at a new chassis and three plug-in hybrid powertrains engineered to deliver more electric-only range. Executives confirmed the Cayenne (which is the best-selling Porsche globally) is about to get “one of the most comprehensive upgrades in our history.”

The redesigned Porsche Cayenne is scheduled to make its official debut on April 18 at the Shanghai Auto Show

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