Porsche Cayenne Coupe Turbo first drive review: Sporty just got sportier
The Cayenne Turbo was already a sporty SUV. How do you make it even sportier? Porsche has a few ideas
It’s a simple formula — take an SUV, and make it look visually sportier. The Porsche Cayenne Coupe is a SUV that follows in the wake of a number of (very successful) SUVs with slippery rooflines. Whether you like this body style or not is entirely up to your sense of aesthetics, it has polarised enthusiasts everywhere — some quite like the raked roof, while some look at it as an abomination. The guys putting down the real cash seem to love it though, and the sales charts prove that. It made sense for Porsche to go ahead and build one too. After all, they do have one of the sportier SUVs around, and traditional coupes are right up their alley.
However, the Cayenne Coupe is so much more than just a Cayenne with a fresh roof. In addition to a cosmetic makeover, Porsche have stuffed in a lot of standard equipment that is otherwise optional on the Cayenne. Keeping with the idea that a coupe should be more performance oriented, Porsche also offers a number of exclusive lightweight options with the Cayenne Coupe. The changes are deeper than the skin, but first let’s talk about the obvious bits.
The sleek option
Head on, there’s not much to tell the Cayenne Coupe apart from the regular Cayenne. It’s only when you look at it in profile that you notice the swooping roofline. However, changes to the body start as far ahead as the A-pillar, as the front roof edge is lower by 20mm. It’s obvious that the C pillars are now completely redesigned giving the Coupe its stance. Something you might not notice visually immediately is the fact that the rear doors and flanks are wider by 18mm and this translates to a wider track as well. The Cayenne Coupe gets two spoilers, a fixed one on the roof edge and an active spoiler that sits under the rear glass, and they combine to provide more downforce and better dynamics. Interestingly, you get a choice of two roofs on the Cayenne Coupe. One is a panoramic fixed glass sunroof which is a standard fitment, or you can opt for carbon roof. A neat touch in the latter is the shape of it — it gets an indent just like the one on the 911 GT3 RS. 20-inch wheels (21s on the Turbo) come standard, but another lightweight option that you can spec on your Cayenne Coupe are the optional 22-inch GT design wheels made of forged aluminium. From the outside, the Cayenne Coupe doesn’t stray too far from its roots. In my opinion, the way the roofline has been integrated is rather nice. I guess five decades of drawing the same lines on a 911 meant they’d get it right on a Cayenne the first time around.
Devil’s in the details
Up front, there isn’t too much to tell the two apart. A keen eye would notice a few touches that are different from the Cayenne — the chequered pattern on the seats and the Alcantara on the steering wheel. The big difference is the backseat, as the Cayenne Coupe comes as a four-seater as standard, though Porsche will give you a bench at the rear for those extra kids. The seat itself is lowered by 18mm to account for the lower roof.
What does make a huge difference is the amount of standard equipment you get. The Sports Chrono Package, with the drive mode selector on the steering wheel and the clock on the dashboard, is now standard. PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management), with its dynamic dampers is standard on the regular Coupe as are eight way adjustable seats with integrated headrests. On the Turbo, you get air suspension as standard and 18 way adjustable seats with memory function. Porsche is one of those manufacturers that do not give you too much parking assistance as standard, but they are being kind by speccing the Cayenne Coupe with front and rear assist, with a reversing camera. We recommend getting the optional 360-degree camera — this is a wide SUV and you’re going to need it.
Behind the wheel
Porsche will be bringing two versions of the Cayenne Coupe to India — the base V6 and the Turbo, with the twin-turbo V8. We drove the Turbo, a properly sporty SUV which puts out 542bhp and 770Nm to all four wheels. Right, the acceleration. It’s absolutely brutal. Remember, this is the same engine from the Lamborghini Urus with marginally lower outputs. It hustles the Cayenne Coupe with proper urgency.
The fact that you get the Sport Chrono package standard means you can switch between Normal, Sport, and Sport Plus with the Manettino-style knob on the steering wheel. Normal mode is quick, but the responses aren’t ultra-sharp in interest of comfort. Inducing minor whiplash every time you breathe on the throttle could annoy a passenger. However dial it up, and the throttle responds progressively sharper. In Sport Plus, it’s positively violent (not as aggressive as the Urus, though) and allows you to get a move on good and proper when you want to.
The air suspension on the Cayenne Coupe is rather well tuned. Even in Normal mode, it has none of the floatiness we generally associate with air suspension. France’s roads aren’t all that great — they’re smooth for the most part but not flawless like Germany’s. Even on the bumpier sections, the Cayenne remains composed. We drove a car specced with the optional 22s, and that does give it a slight firmness to the ride but it is better than I anticipated. Dial up the chassis, and it really tightens things up. It corners flatter, with barely any roll but it also transfers a lot more into the cabin. Hammer through a dip in the road and you will feel it in your gut. There weren’t any potholes en route but I don’t think the car in its sportiest settings will take well to them.
Where the Cayenne Coupe really, really impresses is its composure around bends. Firstly, the sheer grip it has is unbelievable. Chuck it into a corner, and getting it to come close to understeering is near impossible. The limits of this car are so high that they simply cannot be explored safely on a public road like we were on. This grip is a combination of a lot of things — including the fat tyres, the wider rear track width, the all-wheel drive and torque vectoring. The chassis manages the lateral changes in weight very well and there is absolutely no drama around bends. You’re always in control. Gas it out, even mid corner, and it just puts down everything to the road and sends you hurtling ahead.
What sets the Cayenne apart, though, is the steering. Sure, you can use it as a point-and-shoot weapon like any other performance SUV. However, the typical Porsche steering allows you to exploit it so much more. It is extremely direct, almost telepathic and will change the direction of the two-tonne mammoth with surprising finesse. The rear-wheel steering surely helps in this regard. There’s feedback too, all of this adds up to the Cayenne Coupe being properly dialled in around bends. Sure, it will indulge your childish impulses to go full gas out of every corner, but if you want to actually thread it through a set of bends with finesse, it will do that too.
A complete package
There’s very little that I can think of that a Cayenne Coupe cannot do. You can even spec it with an off-road package to give it five off road-specific driving modes and set up the drivetrain and chassis to deal with low traction situations. It looks really good (I recommend the Lava Orange), is comfortable and goes like stink. To be honest, on the road at least, it feels a lot like the regular Cayenne Turbo. A track would probably allow you to exploit the additional dynamic capability and the added downforce better.
The Cayenne Coupe will be sold at a premium over the regular Cayenne. I would assume that this could be in the region of 10 lakhs, considering all the extra equipment the Coupe comes standard with. It is worth waiting for? If you care about what your SUV looks like from the outside, then maybe. Otherwise you could just check the same boxes on a regular Cayenne Turbo and will have something not too far off from the Coupe.