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First drive: Top Porsche Cayenne Coupe thunders in

Range-topping Turbo S E-Hybrid completes Cayenne Coupe range from $292,700

4 Feb 2020

PORSCHE Cars Australia (PCA) has completed its Cayenne Coupe large SUV line-up with the arrival of the range-topping Turbo S E-Hybrid, featuring a fearsome plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) powertrain and an equally intimidating pricetag of almost $300,000.


The arrival of the Turbo S E-Hybrid finalises the Cayenne Coupe range that first launched in December to take on the likes of the BMW X6, Audi Q8 and Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe in the sporty sloped-back large SUV segment.


Speaking to GoAuto at the model’s introduction at the Bathurst 12 Hour last weekend, PCA head of public relations Chris Jordan said the sportscar marque was not expecting large sales volume for the Turbo S E-Hybrid, but rather it will serve as a performance flagship for the range.


“Those cars are a little more rare, they’re not sold in great volume so they really are the halo car of the range and the buyers that get those really special Cayennes know they’re quite sought after and there’s not many around,” he said.


While buyers benefit from the fuel efficiency of the hybrid powertrain, Mr Jordan said he expects buyers who opt for the Turbo S E-Hybrid to do so because they want the ultimate in performance.


“There is practicality around being able to drive to the office and back or do school runs and back purely on electric (power) and charge it overnight because there is that 45km range on EV,” he said.


“On the Turbo S E-Hybrid it’s certainly because it’s the best of the best, it’s got the power, it’s the top of the range, it’s primarily what those buyers want. That car wants for nothing.”


Mr Jordan added that gives the sportier nature of the Coupe, more buyers will opt for the top-spec hybrid compared to the Cayenne wagon.


The headline act for the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe is undoubtedly its powertrain, consisting of a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine from the Turbo paired to a 14.1kWh lithium-ion battery and 100kW electric motor.


Combined output is a massive 500kW/900Nm, with an extra 50Nm of torque over the equivalent Panamera made possible thanks to the fitment of an eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission instead of the Panamera’s dual-clutch unit.


The staggering output means the Cayenne is only the second SUV on sale in Australia with a combined output of 500kW or more, with the only other member of the club being the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and its 522kW 6.2-litre supercharged V8.


All that power allows for a 0-100km/h sprint time of just 3.8 seconds, with the electric motor providing a sharp shove off the line that is then supplemented by the V8 engine as the speedometer climbs.


However, with a 335kg weight penalty over the V8-only Turbo, the hybrid is only 0.1s quicker to the landmark figure.


The 14.1kWh battery allows for a pure-electric driving range of 45km, while Porsche claims a measly fuel usage of 4.4 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, well down on the Turbo’s 12.3L/100km.


In our drive we found the Turbo S E-Hybrid’s battery to drain quite quickly in hybrid mode, especially when travelling on the open road where the electric motor was used to help the vehicle coast at high speeds.


If the battery is regularly topped up and used for around-town driving, we could see a figure near the official 4.4L/100km being achieved.


However, with our battery draining over a roughly four-hour drive that required the engine to feed power back into the battery, we recorded a much higher figure of 11.2L/100km – much closer to the Turbo than would be expected of a PHEV.


Tipping the scales at a portly 2535kg, the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe should in theory not be capable of any real dynamic prowess, however this is a Porsche we are talking about.


With masses of power on tap and a considerable kerb weight, we were half expecting bouts of understeer and squealing tyres when rounding corners, however the Cayenne’s active rollbar stabilisation (aka Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control) and torque vectoring combine to give the big SUV the feeling of a much smaller sedan or coupe.


Even when applying the throttle mid-corner, the Cayenne grips faithfully and keeps pointed in the right direction, giving the driver a feeling of assuredness and perhaps even an overblown sense of driving prowess.


Combined with the Cayenne’s steering, which like other Porsche models is arguably the best in the game, piloting the Turbo S E-Hybrid is a joy, particularly through snaking and engaging roads.


While edging out the Turbo for straight-line performance, we still think the non-hybrid version is still the final word in dynamics and overall driver enjoyment.


The Turbo S E-Hybrid rides on three-chamber adaptive air suspension as standard, which while providing a comfortable ride quality is nonetheless hampered by the fitment of low-profile 22-inch alloys that amplify road noise and have a harder time containing road imperfections.


Given that one-size-smaller 21-inch hoops are a no-cost option on the top-spec Cayenne, we would be quick to tick that option box at the showroom.


Speaking of ticking options boxes, we were surprised to find a number of features on the top-spec Cayenne are not included as standard, a disappointment for a car that retails at $292,700 plus on-roads.


Features such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and a head-up display are all optional, and once the options on our test car were added up, the final asking price for the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe blows out to $334,620.


That pricetag puts it in the realm of competition like the Maserati Levante Trofeo ($330,000), Bentley Bentayga V8 ($334,700) and Range Rover V8 Autobiography Dynamic ($346,170).


It is also priced $39,100 north of the Turbo, however a more reasonable price difference is found between the equivalent Cayenne wagon and coupe – only $4700.


While Porsche does make fantastic driver’s cars, the German marque knows it does and as a result tends to make its customers earn the privilege of driving one.


Inside, the Cayenne is a stylish and sophisticated affair, with a nicely laid-out cabin that blends a feeling of luxury and sportiness to great effect.


The dashboard and centre console are arranged in an ergonomic and stylish fashion, with the large 12.3-inch multimedia screen integrated smoothly into the dashboard and projecting crisp, clear graphics with a sharp and user-friendly interface.


Haptic controls with a gloss-black surface give the Cayenne a premium feel, complemented by the other high-quality cabin materials such as the Alcantara headliner, analogue clock embedded into the dash and dual digital instrument cluster displays that flank the large central tachometer – a Porsche hallmark.


Our test vehicle also came with carbon trim, a carbon roof and Alcantara-wrapped sports steering wheel, part of the Lightweight Sport package which asks a hefty $20,270.


The seats in the Cayenne Coupe are well bolstered and supportive, and while the cabin is roomy in all areas for front passengers.


Rear legroom is ample, while headroom is a little tight for taller passengers owing to the coupe’s sloping roofline, despite the rear seats positioned lower compared to the wagon.


At 500L, boot space is down 145L over the equivalent wagon, and is 125L shy of the V6-powered Cayenne Coupe variants.


The Turbo S E-Hybrid is undoubtedly a fearsome machine. It is an intimidating display of Porsche’s ability to blend electrification and performance, with the added bonus of reduced fuel consumption.


For those who demand the most exclusive and prestigious cars in their garage, the Turbo S E-Hybrid is the clear choice.


However, if pure performance is the goal, the decision becomes harder. The weight penalty means the performance advantage over the Turbo is blunted, particularly if twisty mountain passes are on the menu.


If you are buying your Cayenne Coupe purely because you want the performance of a Porsche in an SUV body, the 404kW Turbo is hard to go past.


However, if performance, exclusivity and efficiency are equally important, it is hard to go past the Turbo S E-Hybrid.


2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe pricing*

Cayenne Coupe (a) $128,000
Cayenne S Coupe (a) $166,200
Cayenne Turbo Coupe (a) $253,600
Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe (a) $292,700

*Excludes on-road costs

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