By Kingsley Wijayasinha
Porsche has been highly successful in the global market, including Thailand, with its Cayenne SUV model.
While many may have wondered why on earth a famous sportscar manufacturer like Porsche would build an SUV with five seats, the strategy did what it was designed to do when the first Cayenne was launched two decades ago. The model introduced Porsche to a new market and was able to open up a much larger group of buyers, generating huge profits for the company.
In Thailand today the Cayenne is probably the most popular Porsche – you can see them every day on our roads. The German sportscar brand has become a household name for those who want a luxury SUV fit for the family (which is definitely more likely to get a spouse’s approval than a two-seater sports car like the 911).
Now in its third generation, the Cayenne offers a sportier look much improved over the standard version. Porsche calls it the Cayenne Coupe – it still has five doors, though, and competes against similar models from Audi (the Cayenne shares the same platform as the Q8), BMW (the X6 was the first model of this sort) and Mercedes-Benz (GLE).
To my eyes and those of many others, the Cayenne Coupe looks spectacular, boasting a more dynamic design as well as improved driving dynamics, along with a bunch of updated features compared to the standard model.
To begin with, the Cayenne Coupe’s sportier design comes from a steeper roofline and shallower windscreen/A-pillar. Porsche says that the roof edge has been lowered by 20 millimetres while the redesigned rear doors and wings broaden the shoulder of the vehicle by 18mm, giving it a muscular appearance.
Apart from the fixed roof spoiler, there is also an additional adaptive rear spoiler that pops up at 90km/h and above to increase the downforce on the rear axle. A huge panoramic fixed-glass roof is standard, but a contoured carbon roof (21kg lighter) like the 911 GT3 RS can be ordered along with the Lightweight package.
The lightweight and sport packages feature glossy black, carbon (or vehicle colour) exterior parts such as air intakes, wheel arch mouldings, side skirts and a rear apron. Inside, you get classic checkered fabric for the seat centres, Alcantara roof lining and steering wheel.
The interior is similar to the standard Cayenne and comes with a large number of features you’d expect from a premium manufacturer, including Burmester or BOSE sound systems.
The front seats are comfortable and allow for long journeys without back pain, but given the grip offered by the suspension, more side support would be welcome.
Customers can specify whether they want the individual two-seat layout or regular three-seat layout at the rear, plus lots of upholstery choices. The rear seats can be folded to increase luggage space from 625 litres to 1,540 litres (a foot-activated comfort access is offered).
The dashboard features a rev counter in the middle and 7-inch full HD screens on each side, while above the centre console is a 12.3-inch full HD touchscreen that offers tablet features.
Despite the lower roof height, the seats in the Cayenne Coupe are 30mm lower than the standard model, so there is still plenty of headroom, although rear passengers will feel somewhat limited for headroom due to the design (which also happens with the BMW X6 or Mercedes GLE). In general, there is no problem regarding space – in fact the Coupe is longer than the standard model, although it doesn’t appear as bulky thanks to the clever design. However this is not an SUV you want to use for maximum loading capacity, but rather for style and performance.
The Cayenne is available with three engine choices ranging from a 340hp turbocharged V6 for the Cayenne, 440hp V6 twin turbo for the Cayenne S (newly developed) and the 550hp V8 twin turbo for the Cayenne Turbo.
While the standard Cayenne Coupe does 0-100km/h in six seconds, the S cuts it down to five seconds while the Turbo does it in 3.9 seconds (which sounds more like a 911’s performance). Top speeds are claimed at 243km/h, 263km/h and 286km/h.
I had a chance to drive all three during a media event in Austria last week, and although there weren’t any autobahns to get the speed up, the winding roads offered an opportunity for the Cayenne Coupe to display its roadholding prowess.
Despite its size, the Cayenne Coupe gets through tight corners with more authority and speed than regular large SUVs. The steering is the sharpest in class and despite the 2-tonne body weight, the Cayenne Coupe glides through corners like a much lighter vehicle, with minimal body roll.
There are loads of drive programmes to fiddle with, including off-road, even though the Cayenne Coupe doesn’t look like a vehicle you want to get dirty in at all. Maybe some light off-roading perhaps, but nothing serious that could scratch the beautiful paint! With the country roads we were driving on, I didn’t even bother using sport modes. There was plenty of power on tap, especially with the Turbo, which breathes fire and is ridiculously fast.
Personally I was never a fan of the Cayenne, which is bulky, fuel-thirsty and totally fills up the road. But the Coupe version somehow takes away that spell with its dynamic profile and performance – because it still feels like a sports car. Unfortunately, pricing will be higher than for the Cayenne when it is officially launched here later this year, but at this price range, people are willing to spend more to get what suits them best.
Porsche Cayenne Coupe specs
Bore and stroke: 84.5x89.0
Compression ratio: 11.2:1
Max power: 340ps/5,300-6,400rpm
Max torque: 450Nm/1,340-5,300rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Final drive ratio: 3.21
0-100kmh: 6.0 secs
Top speed: 243km/h
Average fuel economy: 10.6km/litre
Average CO2: 212-215g/km
Suspension (f/r): multi-link/multi-link
Steering: powered rack-and-pinion
Turning circle: 12.1 metres
Brakes (f/r): vented disc/vented disc
Track (f/r): 1,674/1,671
Wheels: 20-inch alloys
Tyres: 275/45 ZR20 (front)/305/40 ZR 20 (rear)
Fuel tank capacity: 75 litres
Distributor: AAS Auto Service Co Ltd (Porsche Thailand)