The Porsche Cayenne is no sports car. But Porsche bills it as the sports car of SUVs and it's a description that's tough to refute.
It's also the best selling model in the company's extensive lineup, generating enough revenue to make continued development and introduction of the real sports cars possible.
Introduced in 2002 and updated with a second-generation version in 2010, the Cayenne has evolved without dramatic change in appearance or character throughout that time and a mid-cycle refresh for the 2015 model follows that established pattern.
Its styling is tweaked, both front and rear, but not enough to suggest it's anything but a Cayenne.
The front clip, including fenders and hood, is all new, featuring what Porsche calls "airblades" located on either side of the front end to guide air to the intercoolers for cooling, while also adding visual highlights.
Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights are standard on all but the top-of-the-line Cayenne Turbo, which gets full LED headlamps.
Inside, there's a new multifunction sport steering wheel with standard paddle shifters and a revised rear seating to improve comfort. Rear seat ventilation is now offered as an addition to Porsche's typically extensive option list.
The biggest changes are under the hood, where two new powerplants are offered. The now base level Cayenne Diesel (3.0-litre V-6; 240 hp; 406 lb-ft of torque) and the range-topping Turbo (4.8-litre V-8; 520 hp; 553 lb-ft of torque) engines are essentially carried over from 2014.
But the mid-level Cayenne S gets a new, Porsche-developed, 3.6-litre twin-turbo V-6 in place of the replaces the 4.8-litre V-8 used previously. It is rated at 420 horsepower – a 20-horspower gain over the V-8 – and 406 lb-ft of torque.
The former Hybrid model is replaced by the new Cayenne S E Hybrid, the third plug-in model in the Porsche lineup. More than just adding a plug-in function to the earlier Hybrid, it's essentially a transplant of the system already offered in the Panamera S E Hybrid.
The combined output of the system is 416 horsepower, from a supercharged 3.0-litre V-6 engine rated at 333 horsepower and a 95-horsepower electric motor. Electric energy is store in a 10.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
All new Cayenne models feature an improved "auto stop-start function plus" and optimized thermal management, with active air flaps behind the centre air intake.
The 2015 Cayenne is scheduled to go on sale in North America in November, 2014.