Review: 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupé
Adding excitement and visual drama to the Cayenne formula.
I’ve never understood the whole “four-dour coupe” movement. I didn’t understand it when Mercedes introduced the idea on the CLS sedan and it didn’t get any clearer when BMW adapted the treatment onto their X5 SUV giving the world the X6.
That first Mercedes CLS was the pinnacle of this design direction. It was clearly a 4-door saloon car but it had serious presence and style. The kind that would make you put that latte down and stare, mouth agape, finger pointing. The CLS transformed the very ordinary E-Class into something desirable.
With sedans falling out of favour with the buying public, coupé-like styling has been applied, much less successfully, on more and more SUVs. In most of these applications, you get something that costs more and carries less. If you want sexy sheet metal, it comes at the expense of space. Which was the entire reason to buy an SUV in the first place.
Last year when Porsche announced that they would be transforming the popular Cayenne in a similar manner, I wasn’t the least bit surprised. As expected, the price went up and space went down but the creatively named Cayenne Coupé wears its flowing roofline much better than its competitors. Comparing it to the regular Cayenne, this is definitely the prettier of the two and makes a case for itself right out of the gate.
There’s also less of a hit to interior space than I expected. Porsche lowered the roof by 20 mm and the seats by 30 mm to accommodate for the loss in headroom. My 6-foot frame was able to easily fit without any fear of brushing the suede headliner. Likewise, the cargo area has been reduced by roughly 150 litres. Unless you stuff your Cayenne full everyday, you’re unlikely to notice a difference. Four-door-coupés are the equivalent of the mullet: business in the front but make your way past the front doors and the party starts. A fixed roof spoiler caps off the gracefully arcing roofline and all Cayenne Coupés get an electrically actuated adaptive spoiler that deploys at speeds above 90 km/h.
The 335 hp Cayenne Coupe starts at $87,500 about a 10-thousand dollar price hike over the regular Cayenne and tops out at a tear-inducing $191,200 for the 670 hp Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe. There’s more standard equipment across the range to make up for it, though, like a panoramic sunroof, larger 20-inch wheels, adaptive dampers, and the Sport Chrono package but let’s face it, these aren’t cars that the average salary can support.
The Coupe promises a more emotional and engaging experience. So if you like your SUVs sportier, it’s the one to consider. Having already driven most of the Cayenne range, it was my job to see if I could spot any differences in the way it drove. Porsche loaned me a Cayenne Turbo Coupe in Chalk, one of the nicest new colours on modern Porsches. Under the hood there’s a twin-turbo V8 that’s good for 541 hp and 568 lb-ft of torque.
From the driver’s seat there’s no difference. The cabin is virtually identical, but the leather seats with fabric houndstooth centres are too cool for school. Being a Turbo loaded with a compact SUV’s worth of options, nearly every surface was covered in stitched leather, Alacantara, metal, and carbon-fibre. It was enough to make you forget about the price tag and just soak in the experience. In the back there’s individual seating for two, but a bench for three can be asked for at no extra cost.
Like all Porsche’s the driving experience comes first. Even in an SUV, the antithesis, of driving fun, you will find little clues that speak to decades of success in motorsports. Clues like a perfect driving position, a wonderfully tactile steering wheel, and an analog rev counter right in the middle of the instruments.
The last Cayenne Turbo I drove, was through the Black forest in Germany. Like every Cayenne it displayed athleticism and more grip than anything its size had a right to possess. Somewhere between turning the wheel and watching as the big Cayenne dives into a corner like a hot hatch, there’s a mental disconnect. Your eyes see it happening but your mind doesn’t want to believe it.
With nearly the same hardware under the sheet metal, the difference in the Coupé’s performance lies in its tuning and slightly wider rear track. With the Turbo’s standard air suspension tuned to the firmer side of the spectrum, it still soaks up Toronto’s streetcar tracks and broken roads but always feels connected.
Rear-axle steering, a fast steering ratio, and the firmly sprung suspenders mean this Coupé really dances in the corners providing a genuine grin that wasn’t expected. Handling can be described as gluey, unflappable, confidence-inspiring. Not words you’d associate with an SUV. I don’t remember the regular Cayenne being so playful or eager to corner, but the Coupe’s handling and responsiveness reminds me of the Alfa Stelvio Quadrifoglio. High praise.
From rest you can get up to highway speeds in under four seconds and up to a top speed of 286 km/h. It is a rocket ship, of that there is no doubt, and with things like active all-wheel drive and torque vectoring, the grip on hand is immense. Yes this is still a big, heavy SUV but Porsche has transformed it into something most SUVs are not—fun!
The Cayenne, already an impressive vehicle can come across as too serious, too clinical. The Coupe adds in some of that missing character and a silhouette to wow your friends. I still might not get the whole four-door coupé thing but it doesn’t feel like your losing anything here and that might be the best part about it.
2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupé
BODY STYLE: 5-door, 4-5 passenger luxury SUV
CONFIGURATION: Front-engine, All-wheel drive
ENGINE: 4.0-L twin-turbo V8; Power: 541 hp @ 5750-6500 rpm; Torque: 568 lb-ft @2,000-4,500 r.p.m.
TRANSMISSION : 8-speed automatic
CARGO CAPACITY: 598 litres
FUEL ECONOMY *: (Premium Gasoline in L/100 km) 15.6 city; 12.4 highway; 14.1 combined
OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY: 13.0 L/100 km
PRICE: $ 148,000 (base); $ 192,900 (at-tested)
WEBSITE: Porsche Canada
*Fuel Economy numbers based on regular Cayenne Turbo