Porsche Cayenne was first introduced at the 2002 Frankfurt Motor Show and entered production in 2003. It was a breakthrough vehicle for both Porsche and the automotive industry because it pioneered big and powerful off-roaders that aren’t off-roaders. It was one of the first SUVs as we know it today. It was a bold move from Porsche and it paid off, nearly twenty years down the line the Cayenne is one of the best-selling Porsches and it spawned the Macan, which is the best-selling Porsche in Italy, where I’ve driven the car you see here today, the all-new Cayenne Coupe.
The car has been lowered by 20 mm and the chassis is 18 mm wider. There’s a roof spoiler and a new adaptive rear spoiler, they call it PAA-Porsche Active Aerodynamics, and the latter of which automatically deploys whenever you drive over 50 mph for added downforce, or you can do it manually. The car comes with a 2-square metre panoramic roof as standard, which is beautiful, but if you’re in the mood for a bit of hooliganism you can always opt for the optional carbon fibre roof, which makes the car 21 kg lighter and lowers the centre of gravity.
The power is sent through all four wheels but the traction is heavily rear-biased and the rear axle is always prioritized. This is, when all is said and done, an off-roader and the Cayenne Coupe does come with some serious off-roading abilities. You can select Gravel, Mud, Sand and Rock from the centre console display and the car will automatically adjust the amount of power and traction accordingly, depending on whichever surface you’re driving on. After that, well it does have the right amount of power and ground clearance to cope with hazardous terrain and steep gradients. Having said that, make no mistakes, this car’s natural habitat is the Autobahn. Speaking of which, when you get off the highway and fancy a drive through the hills, you can always select your driving mode by using a small dial located on the right-hand side of the steering wheel. You can select Sport, Sport Plus, Individual and of course Normal mode.
If you select Sport and Sport Plus, the car will stiffen the suspension, the throttle and brake response will be more immediate and, joy of joys, the sound that comes out of the exhaust will change. The good news is, you can always keep the exhaust in Sport mode, even when you’re driving in normal mode, and you should because it really, really does sound good. Then we get to my favourite thing here. It’s called “Sport Response” and this is how it works. Say you’re driving to Amalfi with your better half right beside you and Sade playing through the Sound System. All of a sudden, you’ve got an ice cream truck in front of you, it’s slow so you have to overtake it. What you do is, you press the Sport Response button and the car gives you everything it’s got for 20 seconds, without having to change driving mode manually.
There’s a saga of technical acronyms here, PSM, PTM, PASM, PTV and DCC, but I don’t want to bore you so I’ll just tell you what they do. The P always stands for Porsche and the Cayenne Coupe comes with torque vectoring, active suspension, traction control, dynamic chassis control and, I’m going to have to explain this because it is super cool, something called PSCB. PSCB stands for Porsche Surface Coated Brake, a new type of brakes that Porsche has been using with their Cayenne and Macan models. These brake rotors are coated with a special layer of tungsten carbide which means the brakes don’t rust and produce hardly any dust at all, and this means they’re more durable under stress. Plus of course, you can always tell people “yo, I’ve got brakes coated with a special layer of tungsten carbide, you know”.
Ideally, I’d tell you to go for a lava orange body paint with PSCB brakes and yellow calipers but, if I wanted to wear my sensible trousers, I’d say that white with grey/black wheels always works.
ALL AVAILABLE MODELS
The car is available with power outputs ranging from 340 PS to 680 PS. The base model is powered by a 3 L turbocharged V6 making 340 PS whereas the Turbo S E-Hybrid, the most powerful version is available, is powered by a 4 L biturbo V8 along with a small electric unit for a combined power output of 680 PS. In between, you’ll find the S, with 440 PS, the Turbo with 550 PS and the E-Hybrid with 462.
I”ve driven both the base model and the 550 PS Turbo and I have to say these are two very different cars, they do different things and belong to entirely different market segments. Let’s start with the Turbo.
CAYENNE COUPE TURBO
This is an evil car. It is an aggressive, visceral vehicle that’s not even trying to hide the power it packs. And not just because of the body paint. You need a lot of grunt and torque to power a 2-tonne+ vehicle from zero to 60 in 3.9 seconds (3.7 with Sport Chrono) and the Turbo’s got it, 550 PS and 770 Nm of torque. The top speed is 286 kph / 178 mph.
The car is dynamically brilliant but it requires your full attention when driven fast. Alternatively, you can always drive it like you’ve got no place to go and all the time in the world to get there but for that, you’d be much better off with the base model.
The Turbo starts at around $130,000 in the US and £100,000 in the UK.
I’m not gonna pretend otherwise, I loved every minute with this car. I liked it more than the Turbo because unlike the Turbo, it doesn’t feel threatening. It can be docile or it can be quick, it’s always fluid and easy to drive. This is a “continent-shrinker”. You can set off after breakfast in Verbier, have lunch in Sanremo and be home in Tuscany by dinner time. It’s not about the speed, it’s all about the way it uses that speed.
It’s powered by a 3 L turbo V6 which gives it 340 hp and 450 Nm of torque. That’s enough for 0-60 in 6 seconds, 5.9 seconds with Sport Chrono Package, and a top speed of 243 mph / 151 mph.
This is the car you wanna buy. It isn’t even thirsty.
Porsche never forgot history and, even with these modern cars where you don’t have a key anymore, all Porsche vehicles still require you to start the engine by using a key-shaped lever on the left side of the steering wheel. Porsche began utilizing left-side ignition in Le Mans, to give their drivers a small advantage back when races started in the pits, with drivers literally having to run to their vehicles.
You can buy the Cayenne Coupe both as a five-seater, with a rear beach seat, or a four-seater with four individual seats, which is the obvious choice in my opinion because this is a long-distance cruiser. The rear seats, by the way, have been lowered 30 mm for extra legroom so that even giraffe-sized passengers can sit in comfort. You can go with leather for the upholstery, or you can select a beautiful 911R-style cloth pattern with Alcantara.
Inside you’ll find the traditional five-dial instrument panel with the central dial serving as a speedometer and rev counter, and the right-hand side dials can be used as one, thus forming a 7” display which projects information and/or the sat-nav route. There’s also a bigger 12,3” touchscreen display in the centre console from which you can do more or less whatever you want, including using the car as Wi-Fi hotspot because it comes with an integrated LTE sim-card. The whole thing is called PCM, Porsche Communication Management.
STARTING PRICE IS $75,300 IN THE US AND £62,129 IN THE UK.
Now most reviews are probably going to tell you that this car “doesn’t feel heavy even though it is” but I’m afraid that’s not true. It’s a heavy car and so it feels like a heavy car, but the great thing is you won’t care, because it is every bit as good as it is… fat. It’s fast, it’s manageable.
Porsche can sell SUVs to school moms while also selling rear-engine bullets to racing drivers. Very few makers out there can pull that off without tarnishing the brand. The Cayenne Coupe occupies several segments in the market because the base model is the sort of car an executive might buy but the Turbo and the Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe are so expensive that I’m expecting them to be purchased mostly by people who probably own 4 or 5 more cars.
Whatever, this is a Porsche. It is a polarizing brand and every car they make is first and foremost a Porsche. This is no exception.
This content was previously created and posted for Game Changers on DriveTribe