Porsche Cayenne Coupe First Drive Review
It takes a keen eye to spot the Cayenne Coupé from its regular counterpart. Well, isn't that pretty much the same for almost all things Porsche? More so, with the 911s? Then again, the Cayenne Coupé is an SUV with 911 intent, so don't think of this car as an overgrown Panamera. There is nothing polarising about its design either. If you think Porsche's SUVs look too bulky, the Cayenne Coupé is perhaps the go-anywhere Porsche that will catch your fancy. It's is also the best looking coupé SUV in my opinion.
Putting numbers on its design, the Cayenne Coupé is 20mm lower than its full-fat counterpart and 18mm wider around the shoulder line to give it the wide-bodied sportscar-esque appearance. The coupé profile wasn't an afterthought and was a part of the Cayenne's product plan from the day the third generation model was conceived - much like the Audi Q8 that it shares some platform bits with. But the Coupé hasn't taken as long to join its regular SUV counterpart, allowing customers a wider choice from an early stage.
Porsche were also able to develop the car with two roof options within the Coupé profile - a standard all-glass panoramic panel, and a lighter carbonfibre roof with a contoured profile inspired from the GT3 RS. On the cold morning in the south of France, where we began our drive from, the dew drops on this carbonfibre roof created a rather unique visual texture by giving the weave a three-dimensional appearance. Our test car, however, came with the glass roof and its wide aperture and seamless design imparts an airier feel to the otherwise cozy cabin of the Coupé.
The roller blind for this roof uses a thicker, opaque material for better protection against direct sunlight - something worth taking note of, for the Indian climate. The carbon roof gets Alcantara lining and makes the cabin feel tighter and more sportscar like. In fact, it is a part of the lightweight pack that saves over 22kg!
The coupé roofline leaves a fair bit of head room for adults seated in the second row - unless you are over six feet tall. Porsche have reduced the rear seat height by 30mm to achieve this, and yet, ingress and egress remains easy. There is a decent knee room and foot space too. By default, the rear bench of the Coupé features two individual seats with a shallow storage space in-between them, much like a 2+2 coupé. But upon request, Porsche will replace these with the comfort seats similar to the regular Cayenne, at no additional cost. Honestly, you are better off choosing the regular Cayenne if backseat comfort takes precedence for you.
Up front is the familiar layout from the Cayenne - a touchscreen in the dash, touch-sensitive switchgear on the centre and tunnel console for cycling through the infotainment and HVAC controls, and a stubby gear-selector sticking out in between (no shaver inspired design here like the 911's). The driving mode selector is also in it's usual position on the steering wheel.
With keys to the turbo at the crack of dawn, I was worried that the start-up of the V8 would wake up the sleepy town of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. But this 4.0l animal wakes up with a quick snort and settles into a faint grumble, meaning the yachtsmen could sleep longer. But now, I was worried about kerbing the dual-tone 21-inch rims or clipping a mirror in the overly narrow lanes of this Riviera town.
The anxiety would have been even higher if I had the carbon-roofed turbo, for that comes with beautiful 22-inch matte-grey GT rims. Its times like these when I appreciate the commanding view of the road that an SUV offers over a traditional sportscar.
I'm not a big fan of the iffy navigation system in the new-gen cars from the VW group, but finding the shortest route to the highway was easy and was a quick fix to get rid of the anxiousness. Unlike the German autobahn, the French highways aren't meant to exploit the likes of 600 horses, but the sheer acceleration of this car is enough to cleanse all the mundane out of your routine. For that reason alone, I would pick this coupé-SUV over any of its rivals and even make it my daily driver.
Like the Cayenne turbo, the Coupé too is restricted to a top speed of 286kmph, but sprints 0.2s quicker with a 3.9s 0-100kmph claim. There is also a customisable head-up display that shows analogue counters if you prefer oldschool visuals to go with the blurring background. The Cayenne turbo Coupé also sounds a wee bit better because Porsche have reduced the sound insulation material to allow more natural sounds to fill into the cabin. Needless to say, it achieves further weight reduction too. The output of the twin-turbocharged engine is identical to the Cayenne turbo at 550PS and 770Nm, but the coupé form gives the car a lighter weight and better aerodynamic efficiency.
To that effect, the Coupé gets two spoilers - a fixed one on the roof, and an active spoiler on the boot lid, between the windshield and the taillight strip that bears the three-dimensional Porsche lettering. The active spoiler is the largest on any production SUV, and it raises itself at the touch of a button, or by up to 135mm on its own at speeds above 90kmph. I was hoping for some Panamera type theatrics on this one, though.
The Cayenne turbo Coupé also enjoys the entire Porsche all-you-can-eat chassis buffet - rear axle steering, 48V electronics with adaptive suspension and anti-roll bars, massive brakes and the choice of wheel sizes I spoke of earlier. It makes good use of this kit too. Chuck it into a bend, and it feels just as surreal as the Cayenne turbo, staying absolutely flat through the bend. And though it has the same wheelbase, it feels sharper to turn in and out of corners. Thank that to the marginally lower centre of gravity and the lower mass. The active chassis masks the length and weight of the car rather impressively and makes this the sportiest coupé-SUV in my books. The boost mode and the Sport+ modes are the icing on the cake and were the perfect assists for the mountain roads that I drove in.
The turbo also gets ten-piston callipers on the tungsten-coated front discs, which makes for above par braking manners. As I had mentioned in my review, these Porsche Surface Coated Brakes (PSCB) are more than enough for daily and weekend drives and only a notch lower than the track-spec carbon-ceramic brakes (PCCB). If you are a track junkie, I would recommend the latter, of course, but I would also recommend you the Coupé over the regular Cayenne.
The Cayenne turbo is easily one of the best sports SUVs out there - it has the practicality of an SUV, the luxury quotient you expect of an SUV at this price, the off-road capability that you don't usually expect at this price, and the on-road performance that is synonymous with you the badge on the hood. The Cayenne turbo Coupé is 95% of everything that the Cayenne does, with 5% more performance and fun. And at that level, it amounts to quite a bit. It's lighter, more refined in its dynamics, and punchier in its performance. Should the likes of the Q8 and X6 be worried? Of course, for here is a Porsche alternative they wished that never existed!
Also see: Porsche Cayenne turbo coupé | First Drive
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