The Porsche brand was once synonymous with fast and euphoric handling two-seat sports cars that delivered grins while you deftly barreled around twisty or open roads. Then in 2002, the folks in Stuggart decided it was high time to join the popular SUV crowd. Of course, the car enthusiasts complained the company had sold its sporting soul. Yet, the Cayenne became a best-seller as the company’s first four-door vehicle.
A Porsche with practicality was a bonafide hit. It was still a powerful, great-handling ride while schlepping family and cargo. Win-win.
The latest offering is the 2020 Porsche Cayenne S couple, following in the footsteps of its German peers’ offerings with a sloping roofline. Think of it as a higher-stance 911. That’s stout praise.
The S Coupe tester (supplied by Park Place Porsche Grapevine) is the Goldilocks of the Coupe line (starting at $88,600) sandwiched between the base ($75,000) and Turbo ($130,000) versions. I can honestly proclaim it absolutely drives and feels like a sports car.
Let us count the ways this ride separates itself from the crowded SUV/Crossover segment. Seriously, who wouldn’t entertain cargo sensibility mated with Porsche’s sporting heritage?
The Cayenne S Coupe’s sexy streamlined silhouette definitely possesses some delicious Porsche DNA – especially with the brand’s fabulous four-point LED headlights and new brake taillight strip. The front is unmistakably Porsche, with the tester looking fabulous in Dolomite Silver (with a hint of light blue) and contrasting black trim.
Sightlines offer a fresh, appealing appearance from any angle and the rear includes quad-chrome exhausts. The roofline is lowered 20mm and makes a welcome difference in styling – confirmed by many who complimented the Coupe’s rakish shape.
The Coupe has three (yes, three) working rear spoilers. The top allows air to flow through the vents down the rear glass to improve handling while the middle – with a thin attached spoiler – actually raises at 56mph. Pretty cool.
The “21” Exclusive Design Wheels in High Gloss Black ($4,390) and staggered rubber fill the wheel wells nicely and aren’t harsh on asphalt even in aggressive Sport modes.
Porsche is still all about performance and handling, and the Cayenne S Coupe delivers as it should. A terrific eight-speed transmission coupled with a spirited 2.9 liter twin turbocharged six-cylinder with 434hp/406lb.ft torque delivers 0-60 in 4.7 seconds. That’s plenty of firepower for just about anyone’s liking. It feels quick with zero turbo lag, providing the glorious feedback one expects including a worthy optional Sport Exhaust System ($3,200) to raise the goose bump level (you can turn it off when getting home late).
Capable standard All-Wheel-Drive is rear-wheel bias but leans on the front in slippery conditions. You can also monitor the torque ratios on the front and rear axles in the dash. Combined with the stellar suspension, the Cayenne handles like a dream. You can alter the dampers allowing seamless adjustments to varying road conditions (Drive, SPORT, SPORT PLUS, Individual) and off-road modes (gravel, mud, rocks and sand).
Braking is confident and a handy Auto Hold feature allows you to lift off the brake during idling – a welcome benefit when stopping on a steep grade. Despite the sporting heritage, it cruises admirably on long drives while passing nearly anything in a blink with a flick of the gas pedal. So. Much. Fun.
You can opt to disengage the Auto Stop feature. Sport modes tighten the steering, suspension and extends the gear shifts. To me, it’s when the Porsche genes really shine. Mileage is a decent 18/22 and I squeezed 23mpg on the highway.
The Cayenne S Coupe possesses Porsche’s upscale, sporty interior. Fit, finish and materials are all top-notch. Creature comforts abound and the scented double-stitched cowhide leather add to the allure. Attractive trim and perfectly shaped sport steering wheel (heated) are excellent. The instrumentation is clear, easy to read and customize.
14-way heated and cooled seats allow for rambunctious driving or chilling during a long cruise. Seat climate controls are convenient on the console.
For a Coupe SUV, headroom is darn generous – even in the backseat (lowered by 1.18”) – with plenty of elbow room. The rear seats recline as well. Legroom is ample with feet fitting comfortably under the front seats. Essentially, designers gave up five cubic feet of cargo space to increase rear passenger room. Visibility is good for this category. The rear window is narrow, but ample sideview mirrors are excellent. Wireless charging and Apple CarPlay (no Android Auto yet) are available.
Instantly recognizable is Porsche’s customary left-hand ignition key. You can opt for an optional button, but I grew to enjoy the key.
A larger 12.3” HD touchscreen infotainment is terrific and a new attractive console design with significantly less buttons affords a cleaner and easier manipulation of the car’s vast digital controls and settings. It’s immediately responsive and the digital images are excellent. I do wish they kept the handy radio tuner knob from past designs to quickly change stations.
Cargo room is good enough for a full golf bag to fit horizontally – including the driver. Of course, more can fit with the 60/40 split rear seats folded down – enabling total cargo space of 54.3 cu.ft. – but even the 22 cu.ft with the rear seats up is decent enough.
I’d get the Surround View camera/Head Up Display as part of the Assistance Package ($6,240). Included is the terrific 14-speaker Bose Surround System providing plenty of punch. Again, please add the radio tuning knob in the next update.
Yes, the options add up quickly, but customers in this market will no doubt justify the cost increase and the pricing is comparable to its peers.
The 2020 Porsche Cayenne S Coupe is what the driving enthusiast needs to contemplate when requiring useful storage along with sublime sporty driving chops. If you’ve always yearned for a Porsche, this is a great place to start.
Test-drive the 2020 Cayenne S Coupe at Park Place Porsche in Grapevine and Dallas
Golf Bags: More than two with the rear seats down
Curb Appear: A practical Porsche!
0-60: 4.7 seconds
Mileage: 18/22. Observed 24 on the highway
Must-Haves: Sport Exhaust System, Head Up Display
Warranty: 4yr/50K miles + complimentary maintenance 1yr/10K miles
Base Price: $88,600
Price as Tested: $108,600
Who Buys It: Those desiring Porsche driving performance and cargo capability
Finish Line: A sexy SUV coupe with impeccable fun and room for your stuff