2020 Porsche Cayenne S Coupe road test: Cut to the chase

The Cayenne Coupe is sold in turbocharged V-6 and V-8 gasoline-powered models. And there are two gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid models that leverage power over fuel savings. (Porsche)

Midsize SUV will take corners with sports-car finesse and bring home a load of firewood

The Cayenne SUV is now Porsche’s top seller in the U.S. and fortifying its position this year is the four-door, fastback Coupe model. Sharing a foundation and mechanicals with the squared-off Cayenne, the hunky stance of the Coupe is a fusion of style and skill. And so what if this variant costs about $8,500 more than its donor for a few fewer cubic feet of cargo capacity?

It is the Coupe’s muscular 911 lines for which the buyer will gladly pay to participate for the prestige of owning a Porsche. It’s not all about vanity, though — the Cayenne Coupe will take corners with sports-car finesse and it can bring home a load of firewood.

This third-generation Cayenne is a Volkswagen Group architecture that has been repurposed, reformatted and restyled as the Audi Q7 and Q8 (sportback), Lamborghini Urus and Bentley Bentayga, if not other nameplates in the global VW family.

The midsize cabin is broad enough to ergonomically place controls and digital screens. (Porsche)

To create the Coupe body, the windshield and A-pillars are shallower and the roofline is 0.78 inches lower with a fixed rear spoiler. For its more muscular stance, the rear track was widened by 0.70 inches and redesigned rear doors and quarter panels broaden the shoulders by 0.7 inch. To compensate for the lower roofline, the second-row 2+2 seats sit lower in the vehicle, but headroom is still accommodating at 37.4 inches.

PRICING
The Cayenne Coupe is a versatile variant sold in turbocharged V-6 and V-8 gasoline-powered models. And there are two gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid models that leverage power over fuel savings.

All models are all-wheel drive with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Starting prices for the gas models range from about $76,000-$131,000 to the topline Turbo Coupe.

The hands-on relationship of the Coupe S is immediately sensed in the steering, braking and suspension. (Porsche)

Today’s S Coupe tester starts at $89,950, including the $1,350 freight charge from Bratislava, Slovakia. With options totaling $12,260 the as-tested price was $102,110 — and I still would have wanted a few more convenience features.

Standard S Coupe features include the Sport Chrono performance package, eight-way sport seats, an adaptive roof spoiler, panoramic fixed glass roof, park assist tones (front and rear) and Porsche Active Suspension Management. Twenty-inch alloy wheels are standard with options for 21- and 22-inch tires and wheels.

HYBRID POWER
Both E-Hybrid models use a 14.1 kWh lithium-ion battery and have estimated driving ranges of 20-22 miles and up to 41 mpg-e average fuel economy.

The E-Hybrid coupe, $87,750, uses a single turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 with a combined 455-hp for 0-60 acceleration in 4.7 seconds — and that is with a curb weight of 5,265 pounds.

The Turbo S E-Hybrid, $165,750, launches to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds with its twin-turbocharged, 4.0-liter V-8. Its combined engine-motor horsepower is 670 with 567 lb.-ft. torque from 1,960-4,500 rpm. And it weighs 5,673 lbs.

The 12.3-inch wide infotainment screen isn’t prone to washout in sunlight and is simple enough to use. (Porsche)

BY THE NUMBERS
Buying a Porsche is a numbers exercise: How quick to 60? How fast from 60 to zero mph? And how much?

The base Coupe is the welcome wagon for those who don’t care about performance numbers but want the brand prestige and sexy styling. The S Coupe is the enthusiast’s number for the purity of Porsche performance. And the Turbo is for those who don’t have to ask “How much?”

The shift console is an electronic array with touch-sensitive buttons with a haptic response to show activation. (Porsche)

POWERTRAINS
The base model is powered by a 335-horsepower, single turbo 3.0-liter V-6 with 332 foot-pounds of torque from 1,340 to 5,300 rpm. Porsche cites 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds.

For another $13,300, the S model is a full second quicker to 60 with its 434-hp 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 and 405 lb.-ft. torque from 1,800 to 5,500 rpm.

And the mighty Turbo Coupe, with its 541-hp twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8, is yet another second quicker, propelled by 567 lb.-ft. torque from 1,960 to 4,500 rpm — for $41,500 above the S Coupe.

The S model has an impressive 434-hp from its twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V-6. With 405 lb.-ft. torque from 1,800 to 5,500 rpm, Porsche says the 4,725 S model will launch to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. (Porsche)

PERFORMANCE
The hands-on relationship of the S Coupe is immediately sensed in the steering, braking and suspension. It is a buffet of fine-driving skills neatly served with a platter of power.

Acceleration in standard driving mode is focused on meeting fuel economy, which isn’t egregious at 18 mpg city, 22 highway and 19 mpg combined on the required premium fuel. I was averaging 19-21 mpg in daily driving and up to 24.2 on extended highway driving. The hefty 23.7-gallon tank will allow a generous cruising range, even at 18 mpg.

But fuel efficiency depends on the performance mode: Normal, Individual, Sport and Sport-plus. My preference was Sport, which quickened throttle response and got me away from the light with no hesitation, but my go-to was Sport-plus for its overall tighter suspension, steering and launch control. Engine stop-start at idle are also deactivated in the Sport modes. The performance modes are engaged via a small dial at the lower right spoke of the steering wheel. It seems like an odd placement, but it works well and takes away another switch on the shift console.

The S model rolls with 21-inch Pirelli P Zero tires, 285/40 ZR at the front and 315/35 ZR rear. (Porsche)

To let others know of your arrival, there is a sport exhaust upgrade with more relaxed silencers for $3,220. But I felt the standard exhaust was communicative enough.

And while you are adding features, the performance package, $4,900, adds rear axle steering, adaptive air suspension and a sport exhaust system with tailpipes in black or silver. My driving style would not require such advanced levels and the tester was optioned with the adaptive air suspension, $2,170.

RIDE QUALITY
The air suspension was never harsh, never soft but always ready to clip an apex and find a new way home. The driver can feel the steadiness of the chassis through the steering wheel. And there is barely any turn-in transition as the suspension prepares for cornering maneuvers or rolling across speed bumps.

Curb weights are substantial, even with the aluminum hood, tailgate, doors, fenders, roof and suspension pieces. Weights range from 4,663 pounds for the base model to 4,725 for the S model and on to 5,024 lbs. for the Turbo. Consequently, four-wheel disc braking is a three-bears choice:

• The base model gets internally vented 13.8-inch rotors front, 13 inches rear with four-piston calipers front and two-pistons rear.

• The S stopping power is enhanced with internally vented 15.3-inch rotors with six-piston calipers 13-inch rotors rear with four-piston calipers.

• The Turbo gets 16.3-inch internally vented rotos front, 14.3 inches rear with 10-piston front and four-piston rear calipers.

Turbo owners also can opt for a carbon fiber roof option, $11,570, to save about 48 pounds. The big package includes a suite of upgrades:
• Sport Design Package in exterior color
• Carbon interior package
• Carbon fiber rear diffuser
• Heated multifunction sport steering wheel in Alcantara
• 22-inch GT Design wheels in satin platinum
• Standard Interior in black with silver houndstooth
• Matte black air-intake grilles and matte black airblades
• Alcantara headliner
• Sport exhaust system

To compensate for the lower roofline, the second-row 2+2 seats sit lower in the vehicle, but headroom is still accommodating at 37.4 inches. (Porsche)

BRAKE UPGRADES
For stable braking under extreme use, Porsche has added a new brake upgrade. The Porsche Surface Coated Brake system, $3,490 (but standard on Turbo Coupe), has an exceptionally hard tungsten-carbide coating, Porsche says, that is combined with fade-resistant brake pads. Compared to conventional gray cast-iron brakes, the new discs generate up to 90 percent less brake dust, Porsche says. A side effect of the disc treatment will be a polished surface after several hundred miles of driving. It is also intended to prevent the flash rust that appears on brake rotors when the vehicle sits after driving in the rain. The option includes white calipers to show off the brightness.

And when cost is no matter, the $9,080 ceramic composite brake upgrade (with carbon fiber-reinforced discs) adds 17.3-inch internally vented and cross drilled rotors at the front and 16.1-inch discs rear, with bright yellow 10-piston calipers front and four-piston rear. (Big steel disc brakes are very heavy and the ceramic option would cut the weight by around 50 percent, Porsche says. For those who participate in slalom racing, the cost to weight savings might be important. But for a daily-driver, my choice would be the Surface Coated Brake system.)

OFF-ROADING, if you dare
Porsche offers an overkill for an off-road suspension package, $2,170, for those brave enough to risk an $800 metallic paint upgrade or a $3,150 special paint color (Cashmere Beige Metallic, Chalk or Lava Orange). The only no-cost colors are white and black.

The adaptive three-chamber air suspension (standard on Turbo Coupe), also adds forged aluminum suspension links at the rear. And there are five ride heights ranging from a load-level of 5.9 inches to 9.6 inches for trail driving, and up to about 20.6 inches of water-fording depth.

The standard panoramic fixed glass roof (with sunshade) is especially enjoyable for back-seat passengers. Seat comfort is quite firm with adult-class thigh support and seatback recline. (Porsche)

SAFETY
Standard safety features include 10 air bags, forward collision warning with automated emergency braking, pedestrian and cyclist alerts. Other advanced and optional features include lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go function.

Porsche’ electronic co-pilot InnoDrive uses navigation data to calculate rates of optimum acceleration and deceleration for the next 1.8 miles. Controls are activated via the engine, transmission and braking. The system factors corners, gradients and maximum speeds and monitors current traffic conditions using radar and video sensors. Porsche says this exclusively developed system can even recognize roundabouts and will adjust vehicle speed to negotiate the circle.

The tester had none of the advanced technologies for assisted driving and instead relied on the driver to steer, stop, brake and pay attention to the road. And that was just fine by me; there were no intrusive warning alerts or subtle steering assistance.

For commuters who want the electronic backup, the $6,240 assistance package adds a surround-view camera, head-up windshield display, InnoDrive co-pilot, adaptive cruise control and traffic jam assist, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition and night vision assist.

Access to the space is particularly smart because of the low liftover, with ride-height switches. It’s a good space to sit and pull on shoes, boots or wetsuits. (Porsche)

CABIN FEATURES
The Coupe is easy to live with and accommodating as your version of the 911 coupe but with legitimate back seats and usable cargo space. The turning circle is broad but manageable at 39.8 feet, but the rear-axle steering option ($1,620) will trim that span by almost 2 feet, to 37.8 ft.

The cabin and cockpit are driver and passenger friendly. Sightlines are open at the side mirror and across the hood, but the rear view is cropped by the slim rear glass and wrap of the rear roof pillars.

The 12.3-inch wide infotainment screen isn’t prone to washout in sunlight and is simple enough to use. The rearview camera image is large and while there are front and rear parking assist tones, a more helpful 360-degree camera system is a $1,200 option.

Porsche offers a 55-piece tool set accessory in a leather case ($403), but includes a note for do-it-yourselfers: Improper handling of the tools may result in the exclusion of Porsche warranty claims. (Porsche)

The eight-way power adjustable front sport seats are firm but still comfortable after a three-hour run. But for those who appreciate more lower back support, lumbar adjustment is added in the 14-way power seat upgrade, $1,290. And there is an 18-way power seat upgrade for $1,710.

With the tester’s leather upholstery upgrade ($3,750), I’d recommend the ventilated seat upgrade, $850, for those in warm climates. Seat heaters are $530 and a heated steering wheel is $280.

The midsize cabin is broad enough to ergonomically place controls and digital screens. The shift console is an electronic array with touch-sensitive buttons with a haptic response to show activation.

The console isn’t big on small-item storage, but there is a new phone slot and charging ports in the armrest console box, but wireless charging is an option. The visors do not slide and driver’s-left coverage is poor with a gap between windshield and visor where morning or evening sun presents a problem.

The performance modes are engaged via a small dial at the lower right spoke of the steering wheel. It seems like an odd placement, but it works well and takes away another element on the shift console. (Porsche)

The so-called Comfort Access option, $940, gives a complete keyless unlocking setup and foot-activated tailgate. Without it, the driver must use the key fob to unlock the doors, then put the fob back in pocket or purse and start the car using the ignition stub, to the left of the steering wheel, of course, in the Le Mans style.

The other notchy thing was the electric activation of the gear shift. After week of driving I was still fumbling to press the engagement button on the front of the shift lever. But at least there is a gear-shift console and not a shifter “stalk” on the steering column.

BACK SEATS
The standard panoramic fixed glass roof (with sunshade) is especially enjoyable for back-seat passengers. Seat comfort is quite firm with adult-class thigh support and seatback recline. Conveniences with the S Coupe are spartan with no electronic temperature or fan-speed controls, but there are two charging USBs. The 2+2 seating configuration has a no-cost option for a 2+1 “comfort” back seat with a third seat belt for the narrow center position.

CARGO
The back end has square space of 22 cubic feet behind the second row or up to 54.3 cu. ft. with the seatbacks folded for about 6.3 feet of length. Access to the space is particularly smart because of the low liftover (with ride-height raising or lowering switches) and the wide 43-inch-wide opening offers comfortable tailgating potential because there is no protruding rear fascia. It’s a good space to sit and pull on shoes, boots or wetsuits.

New owners can take advantage of the Porsche Experience Center Delivery (Los Angeles) $535 or $465 in Atlanta. The option includes special delivery of your new Coupe, a tour of the facility, lunch at Restaurant 356 overlooking the track and a 90-minute instructed track session in an equivalent car. (Porsche)

SPECIAL DELIVERY
Buying a new Porsche is always special and new owners can christen their purchase with delivery and track time at a Porsche Experience Center, either in Los Angeles for $535 or $465 in Atlanta. The option includes special delivery of your new Coupe (or other model), a tour of the facility, lunch at Restaurant 356 overlooking the track and a 90-minute instructed track session in an equivalent car.

The Cayenne Coupe has the purity of Porsche performance in an SUV with nothing to prove, except that there is almost no end to the customization options. Once a buyer chokes down the price, it tastes like “more” and there will be much reward in ownership — with little remorse.

The Coupe is easy to live with and accommodating as your version of the 911 coupe but with legitimate back seats and usable cargo space. (Porsche)

2020 Porsche Cayenne S Coupe AWD
Body style: midsize, 2+2 4- or 5-seat sportback SUV; w/aluminum hood, tailgate, doors, fenders and roof
Engine: 434-hp, direct-injection and twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V-6 with auto stop-start at idle and coasting function; 405 lb.-ft. torque from 1,800-5,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic; active all-wheel drive with electronic and map-controlled multi-plate clutch with automatic brake differential and anti-slip regulation
0-60 mph: 4.7 seconds; w/Sport Chrono package; top track speed 163 mph
Fuel economy: 18/22/19 mpg city/hwy/combined; premium required

SPECIFICATIONS
Fuel tank: 23.7 gal.
Cargo space: 22-54.3 cu. ft.
Front head/leg room: 39/41 in.
Rear head/leg room: 37.4/40 in.
Length/wheelbase: 193.6/114 in.
Curb weight: 4,725 lbs.
Turning circle: 39.8 ft.
Tow capacity: 7,700 lbs.

FEATURES
Standard equipment includes: remote locking, 8-way power adjusted front sport seats, fixed panoramic roof, 10-speaker audio system, electric parking brake, electric folding and heated side mirrors, LED lighting (headlights, cornering lights, brake and running lights), stainless steel pedals, tinted and thermally insulated glass all around, park assist front and rear with reversing camera, analog dashboard clock, floor mats
Safety features include: 10 air bags, forward collision warning with automated emergency braking, pedestrian and cyclist alerts

PRICING
Base price: $89,950, including $1,350 freight charge; price as tested $102,110
Options on test vehicle: Carrera White metallic paint $800; slate gray leather interior $3,750; adaptive air suspension with PASM (stability management) $2,170; heated steering wheel $280; 21-inch RS Spyder design wheels and painted wheel arches $2,710; heated front seats $630; torque vectoring plus PTV+ $1,500; auto-dimming mirrors $420
Where assembled: Bratislava, Slovakia
Warranty: 4-years/50,000-miles bumper to bumper with 24-hour roadside assistance; 1-year/10,000-miles free first scheduled servicet

MarkMaynard@cox.net

Leave a Reply