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Like a regular Cayenne, only more exclusive, more expensive and less practical

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The Porsche Cayenne Coupé really is one of those cars that appears to be an answer to a question you thought nobody was asking; the definition of a want and not a need.

Which seems quite odd for something that is ostensibly an SUV. Like all manufacturers, however, Porsche is getting ever keener to ensure that no niche goes unfilled. So what we have here, as it says on the tin, is a coupé version of the Cayenne.

Stuttgart's stylists have done a rather neat job, the changes helping shed some of the standard Cayenne's considerable visual bulk.

A rival for high-end versions of the BMW X6, Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé and Range Rover Velar, the Cayenne Coupé at the very least should inject some dynamism into a class where that's generally lacking.

It does that by being based on the best big SUV of the lot for those of us who love driving. Mechanically, you see, the Coupé is pretty much identical to the standard Cayenne.

That means it has recently received one of the most extensive product upgrades in Porsche's history. There's the usual stuff – new screens, new suspension, more power, more efficiency – plus a change of nomenclature. The S is once again a V8.

All of this is geared towards keeping the Cayenne feeling fresh, because from 2026, it will sit alongside the technically unrelated Cayenne Electric before disappearing entirely as Porsche goes EV-only.

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DESIGN & STYLING

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The largest changes between the Cayanne and the Cayenne Coupé are visual. Porsche's designers have grafted on a sloping roofline that chops around 20mm from the SUV's height and added a few extra millimetres of length and width.

Credit where credit’s due, though, because their changes have helped shed some of the visual bulk. It’s not a jarring shape like the BMW X6; instead it’s much subtler, giving the Cayenne Coupé more than a hint of slightly scaled-up Porsche Macan.

Elsewhere, you will notice that at the trailing edge of the roof there’s a large fixed spoiler, which works in partnership with an active spoiler housed at the base of the windscreen. Capable of extending by 135mm, it’s deployed at speeds in excess of 56mph and is claimed to increase aerodynamic pressure over a rear axle that’s 18mm wider.

The wraparound rear light bar adds a bit of up-to-date retro-futuristic Y2K style commonly found on the Instagram pages of the fashionistas of today.

INTERIOR

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Climb into the Cayenne Coupé and you will find that not only is there a fractional reduction in space but there are also fewer seats.

In place of the standard car’s rear bench is a pair of individual chairs separated by a deep trinket tray and two cupholders - although a 2+1 layout can be ordered at no extra cost. On the plus side, the squabs have been lowered by 30mm, offsetting the lower roof.

I really miss the old gear selector. Yes, it took up more space, but you also got to select drive with a whole, satisfying forearm movement, rather than just a flick of a wrist.

However, boot space has shrunk considerably, from 745 litres to 625 litres. Folding the rear bench liberates 1540 litres, which is 138 litres down on the standard car's. Bear in mind that the Cayenne Coupé Turbo’s figures are lower again, at 600 litres and 1510 litres respectively. Meanwhile, the boot of the E-Hybrid - at 434 litres - is 193 litres smaller than the regular Cayenne E-Hybrid's - and 338 litres less than a standard Cayenne SUV's without the battery gubbins taking up room.  

The rest of the interior is largely carried over unchanged, with the same comprehensive dashboard and its wall-to-wall TFT displays. Plus there's now the option of a second infotainment screen that cleverly is invisible to the driver. It can show lap times or YouTube videos, depending on your passenger's mood.

Of course, the fit and finish are first-rate, with top-notch materials used throughout. It oozes premium appeal, with the four-seat layout and lower roof helping to create a more bespoke and cosseting ambience.

The centrally mounted gear selector has been moved to free up some space for drinks holders and a wireless phone charger. Gear selection is now via a pull-down toggle to the left of the steering wheel. 

Up for reverse, down for neutral, hold down for drive and hold down longer for manual: it makes sense, and the little bar you push has a very Porsche-esque knurled material. However, the plastic surround appears cheap and is suspiciously like the set-up you would find in the Volkswagen Multivan.

ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

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Porsche claims that the Sport Chrono-equipped Turbo E-Hybrid will crack 60mph from a standstill in 3.4sec, which is 0.1sec quicker than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo E-Hybrid.

As with the handling, you will be hard-pressed to detect the shaved tenths of a second on the road, where the Cayenne remains blisteringly – almost antisocially – fast.

The V6 PHEV without any battery charge in it feels a bit lacklustre

Peak torque is still at a monstrously high 590lb ft and available anywhere between 2000rpm and 4500rpm, which is just where you need it for devastating point-to-point pace. In combination with the slick eight-speed automatic gearbox, which has an uncanny ability to second-guess your needs, it allows the Turbo to make mincemeat of the straights between corners and any cars that happen to be in your way, all of which will be left in the wake of your bellowing, belching optional sports exhaust.

You can get the Coupé in S E-Hybrid trim too. This also uses a V8 engine and plug-in powertrain, but power is reduced to 519bhp and the 0-60mph time is 4.7sec. Still plenty fast, then.

As mentioned, the S is now a V8 - with no hybrid integration. This engine is magnificent, really. It's fast, flexible, usable, exciting, comfortable and bombastic with the sports exhaust. Yes, it has served in numerous Volkswagen Group products, but the Cayenne deals out its 443lb ft of torque like a croupier at the Casino de Monte Carlo. 

The E-Hybrid is a 3.0-litre V6 PHEV. On paper, it's just as fast as the V8 S, but unless you need to reduce your benefit-in-kind tax bills, it's not the one to go for. It transitions from petrol to electric smoothly and its integration with the gearbox is sublime. When it’s at full chat, the 176bhp electric motor decadently imbues the torque gaps of the 3.0-litre V6 and it feels like it’s doing a good enough impression of a V8. The problem is that it's just not as broad as the V8.

Boggo Cayennes come with an updated 3.0-litre V6. It feels torquier than the old one and is a sensible choice for those on a (relative) budget.

Yet for all its speed and ability, the Coupé still isn’t a fun car in the traditional sense. There’s satisfaction to be had from working its precise and honed controls and genuine awe at its otherworldly ability to devour any road you throw at it with such jaw-dropping composure, but the sense of connection isn’t deep enough and there’s always a nagging sense that the car is doing much of the work. Still, it is a leviathan SUV and not a stripped-out sports car, so perhaps we’re being unfair.

Arguably a better indication of the sort of use the car is really intended for is revealed when you knock all the settings back. Come out of Sport Plus driving mode and the Cayenne Coupé is transformed into a hushed, relaxing and extremely rapid GT car.

Even on mammoth 20in wheels, there’s a plushness to the ride, the air springs adding just enough waft, while only really ragged and torn Tarmac betrays those vast rims, when there’s a slight brittleness to proceedings. It’s quiet too, relegating the outside world to nothing more than a very distant whoosh around the door mirrors and the odd thump from the suspension over a particularly deep pothole or sharp ridge.

RIDE & HANDLING

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If you’ve driven a standard Cayenne, you will know exactly what the Cayenne Coupé feels like. While that comment might seem like a cheap jibe, it’s worth bearing in mind that we’re still talking about the finest-driving large SUV there is.

Test cars we've driven have all been on 21in wheels with adaptive suspension. Even in the most aggressive set-up, all Cayenne Coupés ride with elasticity and poise. Keep the suspension set to Comfort and it’s easy to see how regular folk treat a Cayenne much like a regular SUV. 

Going through villages in one of the PHEVs is fun. Twist the wheel-mounted drive mode selector to Electric and you simply pootle on through in near silence, much to the surprise of the locals.

The PEHVs' transition from regenerative to disc braking is delicate, precise and predictive, although the pedal might require a heavier shove than first imagined. Even after just a few minutes of driving, you gain confidence in braking late for a corner and, more importantly, know how much pressure to apply to come to a stop in a dignified manner at a roundabout – not as simple as it sounds in some PHEVs. 

The eight-speed automatic gearbox can be controlled via shift paddles, and it reacts quickly to your inputs. It also does a superb job of mixing petrol and electricity, although it can be a bit too heavy-handed in switching back from manual to auto mode. 

However, any change in the car’s behaviour because of the fractionally lower centre of gravity is virtually impossible to detect. Perhaps on a track you would notice, but on the roads of our Northumbrian test route, the Coupé felt just like a regular Cayenne. In fact, apart from the slightly narrower view through the windscreen and a more restricted view rearwards, there’s virtually no difference.

What that means is that despite tipping the scales at over two tonnes, the Coupé creates the same uncanny feeling that it’s laughing very loudly in the face of physics. Try to rationalise it and your head will explode, because there’s no way on earth a car this big and this heavy should be able to cover ground at such an astounding rate and with what feel like limitless reserves of composure. Of course, it helped that our car had the optional Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, torque-vectoring rear differential and steered rear axle, all of which play a not insignificant part in its uncanny abilities.

What you will notice first is the way the Cayenne responds so quickly and accurately to the weighty steering, the nose staying resolutely locked on your line despite a very distant feeling of all that mass wanting to carry the car straight on. The rear-steer helps here, rotating the rear of the car just enough to quell any understeer but without feeling wayward.

Get hard on the throttle and, rather than stability control systems going into meltdown, the four-wheel drive system simply shuffles torque to where it’s needed, the torque-vectoring diff subtly overdriving the outside rear wheel to get you pointing at the exit just so. And because the four-wheel drive system essentially runs in rear-wheel-drive mode, you can even get a snifter of power oversteer out of slower corners, which is quickly and smoothly gathered by the trick transmission.

The body control is mind-boggling too, resisting lean and allowing you to corner fast and flat. Mid-corner bumps? There may be some, but the Porsche would rather you didn’t know and simply steamrolls them into submission. There’s genuine poise and control here, the Coupé behaving like some over-sized Volkswagen Golf R when pedalled with enthusiasm.

And because you’re sitting so high up, you can see the road unfold ahead sooner, which partly offsets the disadvantage of its vast exterior dimensions.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

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As you would expect, running costs are on the steep side. Claimed fuel economy ranges from around 22mpg for the S right up to the 188mpg for the E-Hybrid. During our testing of the S, we saw figures as low as 13mpg. 

The PHEVs can easily do sub-20mpg with no battery in them too. But if you plug in at home and drive in a relaxed manner, they will be capable of close to three figures.

If you're really that fussed about MPG, you probably shouldn't be looking at a Cayenne Coupé.

Benefit-in-kind tax bands for the PHEVs are as low as 8% but go up to 37% for the V8s.

VERDICT

The Cayenne Coupé represents something of a quandry. Across the range, it costs between £2000 and £3000 more than the regular Cayenne, which means you’re paying more for a car that doesn’t drive any differently, isn’t really any faster and carries fewer people and less luggage.

Yes, it gets a bit more kit as standard, but on all rational bases there's no reason to choose a Cayenne Coupé over the standard SUV. And as with that car, you’ve arguably got to spend a lot on extra chassis technology for it to show its best.

Yet when were cars like this ever bought with the head? More pertinently, maybe to compare the Coupé with the standard SUV is missing the point. It's better to drive than the BMW X6 or Range Rover Velar and it has a better finished interior than the GLE Coupé. If you do prefer the extravagance and exclusivity that a coupé-SUV affords you, this is your best choice, even if it is illogical.

Really, the Cayenne Coupé is a 21st-century GT. It has the eye-catching looks and the perceived exclusivity; it’s fast and refined; and it boasts a cosseting and luxurious interior. Viewed like that, it almost makes sense.

Murray Scullion

Murray Scullion
Title: Digital editor

Murray has been a journalist for more than a decade. During that time he’s written for magazines, newspapers and websites, but he now finds himself as Autocar’s digital editor.

He leads the output of the website and contributes to all other digital aspects, including the social media channels, podcasts and videos. During his time he has reviewed cars ranging from £50 - £500,000, including Austin Allegros and Ferrari 812 Superfasts. He has also interviewed F1 megastars, knows his PCPs from his HPs and has written, researched and experimented with behavioural surplus and driverless technology.

Murray graduated from the University of Derby with a BA in Journalism in 2014 and has previously written for Classic Car Weekly, Modern Classics Magazine, buyacar.co.uk, parkers.co.uk and CAR Magazine, as well as carmagazine.co.uk.

Porsche Cayenne Coupe First drives