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The Porsche Cayenne S Coupe Makes an Odd Kind of Sense

A quick, fun-to-drive Porsche coupe? Hard to say no...even if it's technically an SUV.

porsche cayenne s coupe
Porsche

What is it?

The mid-range version of Porsche's larger SUV, now available with a sleek, downwards-swooping roofline.

Is it new?

The very back part is. The first- and second-generation Cayennes only came in traditional two-box SUV form — the idea of a Porsche sport-utility vehicle was controversial enough, I suppose — but by the third generation, the basic concept was uncontroversial enough for Porsche to give it the BMW X6 treatment and introduce an SUV coupe spinoff that sacrifices some trunk space in the name of style. Apart from the roofline, however, it's largely the same as every other current Cayenne S, like the one we reviewed in 2019.
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What makes it special?

SUV coupes are, shocking as it sounds, fairly common these days, especially from the German carmakers, whose product planners riff off one another with the enthusiasm of jazz musicians. The Cayenne, however, is arguably the best-looking of the bunch. It actually has a cohesive rear end that like a smoother, more elegant version of the aggressive Lamborghini Urus tail. The front end looks better here than on the regular Cayenne, too; that Porsche face really likes having a coupe roofline behind it.

porsche cayenne s coupe
Porsche

How does it drive?

It's a delight. Like the regular Cayenne S, the coupe version has the sharp, nimble steering feel and handling that Porsches are known for, coupled with a twin-turbo V6 that, admittedly, can feel a little lethargic at low rpm but kicks like a mule once you start driving it like a sports car. Which you will want to do, especially if you spend a little extra on performance add-ons like the active suspension and rear axle steering.

Indeed, this might be a hot take, but I’d argue that the Cayenne makes more sense to buy than the Panamera. There are plenty of sport sedans out there that are fast and fun and engaging to drive, after all — and just about all of them whup the Panamera on value, if you're the type who cares about such things. The Panamera 4S starts around the same price as the much more potent M5 and E63 S; indeed, the Turbo costs tens of thousands more, and it's still down on power versus the Bimmer and AMG. It’s hard to make an case for it with so many great competitors.

But SUVs that are genuinely fun to drive? There aren't too many. Which means Porsche’s magic formula of driving involvement is that much more appreciated in the Cayenne, because a drop of greatness goes much farther. The Cayenne is a crossover that truly feels worth the Porsche premium.

What's it like inside?

porsche cayenne s coupe
Porsche

Comfortable and efficiently laid out. If sybaritic luxury is what you seek in your $100K sport-ute, you'd probably be better served going to a Lincoln, Cadillac or Mercedes-Benz dealership; the Cayenne's interior may boast its fair share of leather, but it's not likely to wow your passengers with its charm. (Especially if, like my test car, it's upholstered in gray.)

It will impress the driver, however; as in pretty much all Porsches, all the important controls for driving fall right where you'd want them, each and every one feeling well-weighted and smoothly dampened. The control system is as much a mix of good (fast-acting touchscreen, crisp graphics) and bad (glass controls in lieu of regular buttons, poorly-placed knobs) as in other Cayennes and Panameras, but at least you can use the steering wheel's redundant controls in lieu of many of them. (Here's hoping your passenger doesn't mind the awkward reach for the volume, though.)

What’s it cost?

Aye, there's the rub. The Cayenne S Coupe starts at $89,900, start tacking on features that you probably want (the $2,170 active suspension, the $1,200 Bose stereom the $800 or $3,150 for any color other than basic black or white) and the items that probably should come standard on a car at this price (a $3,750 full leather interior, the $530 heated seats), and you'll likely be past that $100K mark before you sign off.

porsche cayenne s coupe
Porsche

2020 Porsche Cayenne S Coupe

Powertrain: 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6; eight-speed automatic; all-wheel-drive

Horsepower: 434

Torque: 405 lb-ft

EPA Fuel Economy: 18 mpg city, 22 mpg highway

Seats: 5, or 4 + 1 if you spring for the "rear comfort seats"

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