Unexpected Gem

Though the Cayenne Coupe E-Hybrid may seem strange on paper, its functionality and performance in reality are surprisingly good.

Photo: Unexpected Gem 1
December 9, 2021

The uproar when the chunky Cayenne first appeared almost two decades ago has largely vanished, seeing that by now well over a million of these large Porsche SUVs have been produced and sold. In fact, the Cayenne, together with its somewhat friskier little brother, the Macan, has proved to be a cash cow for the brand.

As much as the faithful clientele has become used to the new member in the Porsche portfolio over the years, there still was this nagging concern that one aspect fundamental to the Porsche DNA had been neglected in the SUV segment: that of a sleek design, more in keeping with the iconic 911.

To address this, the Cayenne Coupe was introduced in 2019 to have a more traditional Porsche shape. The brand also aimed to give the Coupe a more sports-car-like feel. Today, we are in Germany to test the E-Hybrid version of the Cayenne Coupe to see just how well this heavy (2.6 ton) machine delivers on Porsche’s even-sportier SUV premise.

Photo: Unexpected Gem 2

The Rundown & Drive

Parking our test Cayenne Coupe, and letting our eyes wander over its silhouette, it immediately captures you with its sporty and elegant appearance. The roofline of the Cayenne has evolved. Not only has it been lowered by 20 mm (0.8 in.), but it also slopes more steeply at the rear, giving the Coupe a more dynamic appearance.

A clever trick that means no worries about roominess: Tall passengers need not assume an awkward crouch in the rear seats as they have been lowered by 30 mm (1.2 in.) compared to the standard Cayenne. Neither is there cause for concern when it comes to the trunk which, while smaller than the cavernous regular Cayenne (27.2 cu-ft up/60.3 cu-ft down), can still swallow up 17.6 cu-ft with the rear seats up, and 50.8 cu-ft with them folded. There is space in abundance.

Porsche pursues a mantra that every one of its vehicles should be able to function as an everyday car. The Coupe E-Hybrid’s stylishness does not compromise its use as a practical workhorse. So if more capacity is needed, its standard glass roof has been engineered to allow a roof rack to be fitted, and a tow hitch allows you to pull trailers of up to 7,700 lbs.

Photo: Unexpected Gem 3

Appearance is one thing. Apart from its stylish body, though, it is most of all the fine-tuning of the engine in harmony with the chassis that is outstanding.

“You will soon forget you are driving an SUV, as it feels like a 911”, we were told as we got into our test car, powered by, in our case, a 335-hp 3.0-liter V6 single-turbo engine plus a compact electric motor that can add a further 134 hp. And indeed, once you start to forget about your heightened seating position, the promise proves to be true.

The fun begins with the engine and the sensationally precise eight-speed Tiptronic S (the automatic shifting of which could only be out performed by a pro race driver). Added to this fantastic combination of efficiency and dynamics is the purely electric powertrain integrated into the Tiptronic S that makes the hybrid incredibly responsive right from the word “go”. You get this feedback from being “always on” once you turn the key, which nowadays comes in the shape of a power button, with the key remaining a sentimental accessory devoid of its function.

Photo: Unexpected Gem 4

The combustion engine and electric motor work seamlessly together, eliminating any sense of inertia. This feeling of superiority on the road puts a placidly serene smile on the driver’s face. The Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe with its total output of 670 hp will, of course, add further zest—provided you are prepared to pay at least an additional $79,200.

Of course, our E-Hybrid Coupe was also equipped with a seemingly endless array of extras, but not once did any of these extras feel superfluous, forming as they did, an integral part of the driving experience. Options that even further enhance the precision and joy of one’s driving experience are Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) for $3,590 and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with adaptive air suspension for $2,170. These two features yield a unique, quintessentially Porsche driving feel. In our view, at least PDCC should be included as standard equipment.

That sports car sensation is still experienced in what is, after all, a large SUV, but investing in Porsche “ParkAssist” ($1,610) makes parking even a car of this stature a blissful experience, thanks to the precise view the system offers all round.

Photo: Unexpected Gem 5

The Verdict

The E-Hybrid Coupe’s size, weight, and sheer presence made it obvious we were not driving a 992, but this SUV still feels amazingly agile. The sporty driving experience is enhanced by a lower seating position than in the conventional Cayenne. This, along with PDCC, which keeps the car extraordinarily stiff, left us reveling in the driving sensation of a Porsche sports car.

The game changing ‘battleship’ Cayenne is still formidably popular, but there is now a sport utility vehicle to cater for faster, fleeter tastes and preferences. Given the choice, we instantly preferred the coupe-shaped powerhouse. The enhanced driving dynamics, compared to the already very sporty non-Coupe Cayenne, may not be immediately felt, but they are a reality.

Also from Issue 288

  • 992 Carrera GTS & Targa 4 GTS
  • 911E Martini RSR Clone
  • Market Update: 1950-1965 356
  • Porsche Unseen Concepts
  • Porsche Carrera Cup North America
  • Classic Tech: Porsche Ignition Distributors
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