By Shari Prymak
With SUVs quickly growing in popularity, automakers are exploring creative new ways to expand their offerings and dive into new niches to exploit the demand. One example of this is the proliferation of coupe-styled SUVs. BMW started this trend with the boldly-designed X6, and the trend has now caught on to several automakers, including Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, and Audi. Not wanting to be left behind, Porsche has entered the SUV coupe segment as well with the latest version of the Cayenne.
Compared to its rivals, the Cayenne Coupe wears its sloping coupe roofline quite successfully. The coupe-like profile gives the Cayenne an unquestionably sportier look that’s in keeping with the Porsche character. Best of all though, the arching roofline does not significantly impact interior space. Porsche lowered the rear seats by 30mm to compensate for the 20mm lower roofline. The result is that occupants have plenty of space and headroom to sit comfortably. The cargo area has a bit less total volume, but is no less practical in terms of width or length when compared to the regular Cayenne.
The Cayenne Coupe is available in the full range of powertrains from the base V6-powered version with 335 horsepower up to the 670 horsepower Turbo S E-Hybrid. My Turbo test model is the most visually striking of the bunch with its quad exhaust tips, electronically-actuated rear spoiler, and 22 inch wheels concealing those massive brakes with 10-piston calipers up front. The interior is equally attractive with plenty of high-end finishes and impressive build quality. Although the gloss black capacitive touch controls are prone to annoying scratches and fingerprints, the rest of interior finishes, from the alcantara-wrapped wheel and headliner, to the houndstooth seat inserts and leather-covered surfaces, are just exquisite.
The Turbo model is powered by a twin-turbocharged V8 engine matched to an 8-speed automatic transmission and a rear-biased all-wheel drive system. With 541 horsepower and 568 lb-ft of torque on reserve, it’s no surprise to learn that the Cayenne Turbo is a total straight-line missile. Pushing the Sport Response button in the centre of steering wheel’s drive mode dial is a bit like branding a bull with a scorching-hot iron rod. The 8-speed automatic drops a few gears, the exhaust opens up, and the rest of the controls prime for maximum attack. 0-100km/h comes in as little as 3.9 seconds, which is a figure that pushes supercar territory.
The handling is equally impressive thanks to Porsche’s superb chassis management systems complete with torque vectoring, rear-axle steering, and adaptive dampers. With its significant curb weight and size, not to mention elevated ride height, the Cayenne Turbo never feels 911-sharp, but it certainly comes closer than it has any right to. It simply dances through corners with unflappable ease and athleticism that defies logic in a high-riding SUV. On the flip side, the Cayenne Turbo Coupe does not sacrifice any of the off-road capability one would expect from an SUV. The adaptive air suspension includes four selectable ride heights for additional ground clearance and there are four drive modes designed for off-road terrain.
Although I’m not an especially big fan of the SUV coupe trend, if I had to pick one of them to sit in my driveway, the Cayenne Coupe would unquestionably be the one. Porsche’s are inherently sporty vehicles, and the coupe theme is perfectly in keeping with the overall character. I also appreciate that the coupe enhances the subtle sportiness of the regular Cayenne without going overboard and without impacting interior practicality. Extra sportiness with no perceivable sacrifice. What Porsche owner wouldn’t want that?