Fastback SUV arrives fashionably late this fall
Argue over the semantics if you will, but four-door coupes are a thing. So, too, are four-door coupe SUVs. BMW offers the X6, X4, and X2; Mercedes-Benz has its GLE and GLC Coupes. Audi’s flagship Q8 flirts with the format, as does the forthcoming electric-powered E-Tron Sportback. And now here’s Porsche arriving fashionably late to the party with the 2020 Cayenne Coupe, scheduled to go on sale in the North America this fall.
Porsche’s tardiness might seem surprising, given the company prides itself on building sport utility vehicles that are sportier than most. But the bean counters at Zuffenhausen dictated the Coupe variant had to wait until the development of the third-generation Cayenne, when the cost of unique panels and other hardware could be factored into the financials of the whole program.
And Porsche is expecting a big return on the investment: Insiders say the Coupe could account for up to 30 percent of global Cayenne volume. Although they acknowledge some cannibalization of existing Cayenne sales is inevitable, they also anticipate poaching a significant number of customers from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
The Cayenne Coupe shares its basic structure and mechanical hardware with the regular Cayenne. Two versions of the Coupe will be available at launch: the entry-level model powered by the 335-hp, 332-lb-ft single turbo V-6; and the Cayenne Turbo Coupe, which has a 541-hp, 567-lb-ft variant of Porsche’s versatile 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 under the hood. The V-6 Coupe will start at $76,550 USD, the Turbo Coupe at $131,350 USD (including $1,250 USD destination). That’s $9,600 and $5,500 USD more, respectively, than Porsche currently charges for its corresponding regular Cayennes, though that gap will likely narrow once pricing for the 2020 regular models is announced.
What does the extra money buy you? In terms of performance, nothing. Porsche claims the V-6 Coupe will hit 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and has a top speed of 151 mph (243 km/h), while the Turbo Coupe is good for a 0–60 mph time of 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 178 mph (286 km/h). In other words, they’re no quicker than regular Cayennes. What you’re paying for is a restyled Cayenne with some extra goodies. Both models come standard with Porsche’s Sport Chrono Package and a panorama sunroof, for example. The V-6 Coupe rolls on steel springs with PASM-controlled shocks and sports 20-inch wheels, while the Turbo Coupe comes with air suspension and 21-inch alloys; it also gets Porsche’s PSCB surface-coated brake package with its signature white calipers.
In terms of sheetmetal, the Coupe shares only its hood, front fenders, front door skins, and lights with the regular Cayenne. The A-pillars have been angled further back to deliver a faster windshield angle—the windshield itself is shallower—and the roofline has been lowered 0.8 inches. The cant rails arc gracefully rearward into 0.7-inch-wider rear quarter panels to create what design chief Michael Mauer calls the Porsche ‘flyline,’ providing the framing for a greenhouse graphic that overtly echoes that of the iconic 911. The rear backlight is steeply raked; the large rear hatch incorporates a fixed spoiler at its top edge and an active spoiler that nestles in the vestigial rump at the lower edge of the rear window. This lower spoiler deploys 5.3 inches into the airflow at speeds above 56 mph (90 km/h) to improve stability.
The interior is virtually identical to that of the current Cayenne, which is no bad thing given its well-executed mix of technology, materials, and colorways. The Coupe comes standard in four-passenger trim, with two pseudo-bucket seats separated by a cubby and a large fold-down armrest. (A regular bench is available as a no-cost option.) The rear seat is mounted 1.2 inches lower than in the regular Cayenne to provide more headroom. This means 6-footers will fit, but the setup means the Coupe’s rear seat doesn’t slide fore/aft as it does in the regular Cayenne, as there’s no room for the mechanism underneath. The backrest can still be reclined, though.
The decision to make the panoramic glass roof standard on the Cayenne Coupe is more than just an amenity. Its dark coloring artfully disguises the fact the roofline doesn’t sweep down from the B-pillar as dramatically as the greenhouse suggests it does. Similarly, the carbon-fiber roof (part of the optional Lightweight Sports package) is left clear-coated, the side benefit of which, of course, is you can show your buddies what you spent the extra money on. The package saves about 48 pounds (22 kg), most of it in the roof. It also includes weight-reduced 22-inch wheels; different side skirts, wheel-arch trim, exhausts, and front vent graphics; and sporty checked cloth seat inserts.
If you fervently believe form should follow function, the very idea of a four-door coupe SUV will make your head explode. However, as GM’s Alfred Sloan figured out almost 100 years ago, the secret to success in the auto business isn’t dictating to customers what they should drive, but creating something they want to drive. Porsche knows the 911 gets the glory, but it’s the Cayenne that makes the money. In that context, making a Cayenne look—squint hard—a little more like a 911 probably makes good business sense.