First debuting the Cayenne SUV back in 2003, Porsche is now on its third generation, and has more recently been joined by a kid brother, the Macan, and the four-door wagon-like Panamera. Recently, the brand announced we’ll get the 2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe in the United States this fall. It’s a cut-roofed, sleeker version of the Cayenne that comes standard with Porsche’s adaptive suspension system, its own color palette, and the option to add trick carbon-fiber bits. Out of the box, with any of three engines, it boasts slightly faster 0-60 mph times than the brawnier big-brother Cayenne. After a recent test drive in Austria, here’s everything you need to know about it.
A New Look
The shape of the Cayenne mostly works in its cut-down form, with a roof that’s nearly an inch lower. And Porsche completely redesigned the rest of the Cayenne Coupe to differentiate it from its square-shouldered brother, so from the hood rearward, its shell is unique, with a shorter windscreen that sweeps back either to a fixed glass roof, that lends more airiness to the cabin, or to an optional carbon fiber lid. The rear doors, too, are unique, and had to be, to accommodate the Coupe shape, as are the rear fenders, hatch glass, hatch frame, and bumper.
Further, the entirety of the rear of the car is widened by .7 inches, and the rear wheels also sit on spacers to push them out by that same amount.
Adding width increases stability, and furthering that cause, in addition to the fixed spoiler at the rear lip of the roofline, just below the back glass, there’s a second active spoiler that levitates upward when you crest 56 mph. Fast vehicles that are tall need downforce even more than rigs that ride low, so two spoilers are better than one.
The resulting look of the Cayenne Coupe is decidedly more muscular, and there are also two unique colors: Lava Orange and Chalk. While the former may be a bit much outside of South Beach, Chalk is a beautiful, muted white that looks exceptionally sharp, especially when offset with black rims.
Three Engines and Even More Options
While a hybrid version is coming, based on the E-Hybrid Cayenne, for now there are three drivetrains available for the Cayenne Coupe. And the sweet spot may actually not be the hottest version.
The base model, the standard $75,300 Coupe, gets a turbocharged V-6 that makes 335hp at 5,300rpm. It’s fine, but what you really need in a heavy crossover like this is low-end torque. The Base V-6 makes 332 lb.-ft. of it. It hits at a very low 1,340rpm, but the Cayenne S, which runs $88,600, not only has 99 more horses from its twin-turbo V-6, at 434hp, but its 405 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,800rpm wakes up this chassis, and cuts a full second off 0-60 times, down from 5.7 seconds to 4.7 seconds. Spend $130,100 and you can have the full-boat V-8 Turbo, which knocks yet another second off that 0-60 time and pushes horsepower to 541hp and torque to 567 lb.-ft. The problem: It also adds about 300 lbs. of weight. Yes, it’s faster, but then again, a Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 63 S puts out 503hp and yet matches the 0-60mph race of the Turbo Cayenne Coupe because it’s 500 pounds lighter.
Speaking of weight, while it may only seem like a trim package, opting for the glass roof does increase the weight of the Cayenne Coupe vs. the carbon lid, that in combination with other lightweight options, lowers the overall weight by nearly 50 pounds. It also drops the center of gravity of the Coupe to below that of the standard Cayenne.
Again, if you’re thinking of the Coupe as the sportier option, going lighter and keeping weight lower, matters. Regardless, and critically, regardless of drivetrain, too, all versions of the Cayenne Coupe come standard with both an adaptable suspension and an eight-speed manumatic, paddle shift transmission.
The steering of the Cayenne Coupe is easily the highlight of Porsche’s achievement with this vehicle. Getting a 5,000-plus-pound vehicle to feel as taut and quick on its toes as Porsche has is a genuine triumph, and it is a very large differentiator for the Cayenne Coupe when stacked against other luxury SUVs. The Porsche is dead-on-a-line accurate. You’re well aware of what’s happening at the wheels at all times, and that attribute makes the car fun even when you’re just cruising around town.
In addition to the quick steering, all Cayenne Coupes also come with Porsche Active Stability Management air suspension, standard. The driver can set the ride stiffness to Normal, Sport, or Sport Plus, and in addition, active anti-roll bars work like electronic pry bars. They’re powered by a motor that pushes the bar up at each corner of the suspension to counter the bending forces of cornering.
The net effect is a Porsche SUV that steers flatter than you’d think possible, and it helps that there’s a small amount of rear-axle steering. The rear wheels turn in the same direction as the fronts at slow speeds, to tighten the turning radius, and counter-steer, just slightly, at high speeds, to further stabilize body roll when you’re really flying through bends.
One note: The Cayenne Coupe’s stock wheel sizes is 20 inches and stretches up to optional 22s on the Turbo. The Cayenne starts with 19s. We found that the 21s were more than ample rubber, and the larger 22-inch wheels on the Turbo models could make rough pavement feel particularly bone-jarring.
And as we mentioned above, although the Turbo is decidedly capable, you feel its weight when you muscle the car through corners. The Cayenne S feels more athletic, and even if it lacks V-8 propulsion, leaner might actually be meaner or at least more entertaining.
Porsche has carved out a reasonable reputation for off-road cred with the original Cayenne and hasn’t gone soft. So the AWD Cayenne Coupe still gets an air suspension that will lift itself to 9.6 inches. In addition, the aforementioned anti-roll bars, instead of stiffening, as they do on dry tarmac during cornering, actively do the opposite, pushing the wheel with the greatest ground contact downward, to maintain the best possible traction during 4x4ing.
There are also dedicated off-road modes for gravel, mud, sand, and rocks, each of which require slightly different programming from the traction management system to the throttle input.
If you’re that kind of buyer, get the optional underbody protection and surround-view camera tech options that allow you to rock crawl via the onboard cameras, the better to avoid scraping your baby.
Porsche + Nest + Amazon
The interior of the Cayenne Coupe is, of course, somewhat less capacious than the cabin of the stock Cayenne. Maximum cargo drops from 60 to 54 cubic feet (rear seats folded), but aft passengers sit about 1.5 inches lower, to avoid compromising headroom, and six-foot-plus testers fit just fine. Also: Rear seatbacks will tilt significantly so you’re not getting dinged on comfort for riding in the second row.
There’s an option for a $7,000 Burmester sound system which, as you’d hope, sounds astounding. Wisely, too, Porsche not only has a system for creating a WiFi hotspot, but it’s allowing high-bitrate streaming, since XM satellite radio is typically even lower resolution than terrestrial FM. The Porsche Connect Plus infotainment package, instead, lets you stream Amazon Music, and Radio Plus hunts for HD radio stations wherever you drive via the built-in LTE SIM instead of typical radio signals, again, so that streaming to your audiophile-level sound system is truly up to snuff.
Finally, and perhaps inevitably, the Cayenne Coupe can even keep tabs on your Nest devices. If the furnace dies or a package gets delivered or you just want to crank the A/C at your guest cottage before arrival, you can do that from the touchscreen. More useful, the Cayenne Coupe lets you fully customize functions of that touchscreen with up to six user profiles, so you can move around tile-like widgets (think: apps, akin to your smartphone) so that functions are arranged in an order you prefer, so each driver preset goes well beyond steering wheel position and seat position. This is wise; your partner has different apps on their phone in a different order, right?
But do you need all that tech in a supposedly driver-focused Porsche? Yes. Because the competition is offering it, too. And this spicier, more engaging Cayenne is delivering on more than one front by making it fun to drive a luxury crossover, while retaining the pragmatic nature this buyer is chasing. Sure, you can still hate, but it’s kinda pointless, since anyone who can afford a Cayenne Coupe can likely swing for a Boxster, too.
[Starts at $75,300; porsche.com]