There are two schools of thought here. For some, SUV coupes are a contradiction in terms. They are off-roaders that rarely (if ever) venture beyond tarmac. They aspire to dynamism, yet are blunted by bulk and a high centre of gravity. And they diminish the ‘utility’ of a Sports Utility Vehicle for a sleeker silhouette.
Then again, an arsenal of technology lends most such cars an agility that belies their bulk. Their high driving positions and rangy suspension arguably suit our crowded, crumbling roads. And they are still amply practical for family life, despite some concessions to style.
Like a certain political debate, there seems to be no middle-ground. But whichever side of the fence you sit on, high-riding coupes are here to stay. Indeed, given BMW launched the X6 in 2007, it’s a wonder Porsche took 12 years to join this very profitable party. You’ve probably made up your mind about the Cayenne Coupe already, but assuming you haven’t ‘had enough of experts’, here are a few thoughts from me.
Firstly, how it looks. The Cayenne Coupe is just that: a restyled version of Porsche’s full-size 4×4, with a racier roofline and more bulbous bottom. Look closer and you’ll spot the mildly stretched wings, steeper rake for the windscreen and active rear spoiler, which pops up above 55mph. While hardly beautiful, it’s the best take on Porsche’s ‘911 in platform shoes’ aesthetic yet. Certainly prettier than the rival X6 or Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe.
Inside, the rear seats are fixed 30mm lower to compensate for that drooping roof, while boot capacity shrinks by a modest 145 litres versus the standard Cayenne (to 1,680 litres in total). Four individual chairs are standard, with a three-person rear bench a no-cost option. My car had the optimistically-named ‘Lightweight Sport Package’, which limits you to four seats, costs £7,482 and saves just 22kg – negligible on a 2,275kg SUV. On the plus side, the carbon fibre roof and retro 911-style houndstooth trim are properly cool.
Inside the Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe.
This car has the £7,482 ‘Lightweight Sports Package’, which includes a carbon roof – and shaves all of 22kg off a 2,275kg SUV.
Then again, those 911R-style houndstooth seats – also part of the pack – are incontestably cool. pic.twitter.com/PxwGmT54Ut
— Tim Pitt (@timpitt100) December 12, 2019
An analogue rev counter front-and-centre is also a pleasingly traditional touch, but everything else about the Coupe’s interior feels futuristic. Rather than physical switches, many of the touch-sensitive controls are concealed beneath gloss-black veneer, like a Bang & Olufsen hi-fi. The large touchscreen looks crisp, and syncs effortlessly with your phone, while the digital dials can display the navigation map. Note the chunky grab handles on the centre console, too. Your passenger may be needing those…
Particularly if the word ‘Turbo’ is on the tailgate. This is the flagship Cayenne Coupe – at least until the even quicker Turbo S E-Hybrid arrives – and packs a 550hp 4.0-litre V8 and eight-speed PDK auto gearbox: good for 0-62mph in a ferocious 3.9 seconds, plus 177mph flat-out. Prices start at £104,729, with my test Turbo costing a hefty £127,354 after options.
Many of those extras, such as the tinted taillights (£590), you really don’t need. From experience with other Porsche models, though, rear-axle steering (£1,448) is a worthwhile investment. It makes for improved manoeuvrability around town and better stability at speed: both important in a large SUV. And it helps make the Cayenne Coupe the most driver-focused car in its class.
Select one of the sportier drive modes and body control is iron-fisted, the Porsche hugging the road with steely focus. Its steering is nuanced and direct, while its brakes – £4,217 ceramic-composite discs here – are progressive and mighty. Sitting so high, you’re never totally immersed in the action, but this is the closest an SUV gets to a sports car.
Me? I’d go for the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo estate, which is prettier, nearly as practical and even more engaging to drive. But you’ve already made up your mind, right?
Top speed: 177mph
CO2 G/KM: 258
MPG combined: 20.8
Porsche Cayenne Coupe Turbo: in pictures