Porsche has taken its first step to blur the lines between its niche sportscars and its volume-selling SUVs with the launch of the svelte-looking Cayenne Coupé.
With all new bodywork from the windscreen back, the Cayenne Coupé has successfully married the 911’s distinctive full width rear tail light treatment, steeply curved C-pillar roofline and wide rear guards over giant diameter wheels with its top selling family-wagon in an effort to take on the BMW X6 and Mercedes GLE five-door coupés.
The major visual changes consist of a tapered rear end that sits on an 18mm wider body which results in a 20mm lowered roof to give it that 911-like stance.
Due to the lower roof, the windscreen and A-Pillars are placed at a shallower angle while its rear number plate has been integrated into the bumper to not only trick the eye into making the car look lower, but also cleans up the tail visually. Priced from Dh335,900 for the 335bhp/450Nm 3.0-litre single turbo V6 to Dh598,700 for the 542bhp/770Nm 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, it comes in around Dh10,000 above the regular Cayenne but includes a host of features that are now standard equipment over the regular model.
Options on the third-generation Cayenne such as the Sport Chrono Package, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), Park Assist including reversing camera, speed-sensitive Power Steering Plus and 20in alloy wheels are now included in the basic purchase price of the Coupé. The value of the Sports Chrono package alone, which alters elements of car’s chassis, engine and transmission as well includes a performance display with a digital and analogue stopwatch is around Dh4,200 extra on the full-sized Cayenne according to Porsche’s configurator.
A 2.9-litre, twin-turbo V6 S Coupé developing 434bhp/590Nm will join the range alongside a plug-in hybrid towards the end of the year.
Porsche claims the base model 3.0-litre V6 turbo will get to 100kph in six seconds (5.9 with the Sports Chrono package) and on to 243kph, while the V8 gets to 100kph in 3.9 seconds with a top speed of 286kph. Our test of both left us in no doubt that this is one very quick SUV with explosive overtaking potential but it was when it came to the twisty Austrian alpine roads that the benefits of the Coupé kicked in.
With a lower centre of gravity and shorter wheelbase, its steering was more precise because it was flatter heading into corners. The reduced body roll was clearly evident and that also complemented the 415mm/365mm brakes front/rear on the turbo as the car settled quickly before jumping on the anchors.
In terms of driving dynamics, the Coupé felt closer to the Panamera GTS than the normal Cayenne and no doubt will tempt buyers of the big saloon over to the sporty SUV. Aside from Panamera, it’s reasonable to expect the Coupé will also take sales from the regular Cayenne so it will be interesting to see how the ratio adjusts.
As Detlev von Platen, the Member of the Executive Board of Porsche for Sales and Marketing said at the car’s reveal, the Coupé will not be in addition to the Cayenne’s volume but should comprise a percentage of its existing sales. Which begs the question, why? Where is the gap in the market for another SUV between Macan and the regular Cayenne? Porsche says the proof is in the sales numbers as the off-roaders are easily their best selling models. Since Cayenne was introduced in 2002, more than 850,000 units have been sold which is an average of 53,000 a year, yet last year Porsche moved more than 71,000 Cayennes proving that the SUV trend is still growing. Total Porsche SUV sales last year including Macan, accounted for 157,759 units but it’s not until you place that figure next to the 35,573 sportscars which represents combined 911, Cayman and Boxster sales that you can see how absolutely crucial this sector is for them.
Looking at the Coupé’s heavily tapered roof, I was sceptical of the rear seat headroom, however dropping the rear seat height by 30mm along with a full length, 2.16m2 panoramic fixed glass roof solved the problems of both head space and claustrophobia.
There was no shortage of rear headroom, nor did it feel closed in thanks to the giant glass roof, though I could have done with more rear legroom. For hot weather, the glass roof has a retractable blind but should that not be enough, a full-length carbon fibre roof is also available.
The carbon roof is part of three lightweight sports packages which shed between 18 and 22kg depending on the spec and includes new 22in lightweight wheels and seat centres in classic checked fabric with carbon and Alcantara accents. For the Turbo, the package adds a sports exhaust and 21in platinum silk gloss wheels while all kits include a carbon diffuser, front spoiler, wheel arch mouldings, sideskirts and rear apron.
The new fabric insert seat trim harks back to the days of the original 911 turbo and 928 with a ‘hounds tooth’ style black and white design which I found to be preferable over the full leather alternative.
The standard seats are eight-way electrically adjustable while the Turbo features 18-way Sports seats that are also available in the other models as an option. Likewise, the 14-way adjustable Comfort seat with massage function is available as an option.
The dash is similar to the Gen 3 Cayenne with a traditional central tacho flanked by two, 7.0in displays which can be controlled by either the touch-screen display, the multifunction steering wheel or the 12.3in touch-sensitive screen in the centre.
If you are one of the few who will take it to the desert, the Cayenne Coupé also comes with an optional Offroad Package that includes various robust add-on parts to not only protect vital components but also gives it a decidedly rugged look. Additional off road-specific information includes changes to the steering angle, transverse gradient and longitudinal incline along with a compass display on the dash.
As you would expect, the Cayenne Coupé is strictly a four seater but if you do need to haul five people regularly, you can order the same comfort-spec bench rear seat used in the big Cayenne at no extra cost.
With the rear seats up there’s 625 litres of luggage space for the V6 and 1,540 litres when they’re folded flat and for the V8 it’s 600 litres and 1,510 litres respectively. While it loses out to the regular Cayenne’s 767 and 1,707 litre capacity, it offers more space than a comparable BMW X6.
Like all Porsches, the Cayenne Coupé features a high deck boot spoiler which is a first for this segment as it rises 135mm at speeds above 90kph.
I’m yet to be convinced of its aerodynamic benefits as it seems to be more of a marketing exercise and to my eyes, the clean rear end looks better with it retracted.
Looking at the Cayenne Coupé in relation to the other models in Porsche’s five-door family, I was struggling to find its relevance and how it could succeed without cannibalising sales from regular Cayenne, Panamera or even the top spec Macan Turbo, however it’s all part of the sales numbers game.
The buying public’s insatiable appetite for SUVs means that a new model, no matter how niche, equates to more sales, it’s just that Porsche has made a better-looking Cayenne to take on the … er, Cayenne?