Porsche Cayenne Coupe long-term test (2021) review | CAR Magazine

Porsche Cayenne Coupe long-term test: the half-year verdict

Published: 11 October 2021

► CAR lives with Porsche’s Cayenne Coupe
► Ours is a V6 S with plenty of goodies
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In a perfect world every car would be this good and everyone would be able to afford one – until then, lucky us…

Let’s talk about the seats. Not their colour or their showy logo-embossed headrests. But their performance as seats. Which is, in a word, tremendous.

If Porsche seats get talked about at all, it tends to be in terms of support during high-g cornering. That’s maybe less of a concern in the Cayenne S Coupe than with some other Porsches, or at least it is when I’m the driver, especially when I’m doing a 500-mile day.

Because at the end of my (one and only) 500-mile day in the Cayenne S Coupe, I realised I hadn’t given the seats a single thought, except to wonder if the water I’d spilled on the front passenger seat early in the day would leave a mark. (Relax – it didn’t.) At no stage did I wish the seats had more padding, or a massage function, or some ambience-enhancing smells.

They’re simply very well designed and made seats, front and rear. They don’t just support you, they position you for maximum engagement with the car. They’re comfortable by being optimised for the job at hand – being in a great car, ready to drive good distances, occasionally at high speed but often not – rather than by apeing the characteristics of a sofa.

It’s easy to get distracted by how red they are (an option, and an expensive one: no cost for the sports seats, but £2753 for the two-tone leather interior, and £308 for the seat heating, and £320 for the Porsche crest on the headrests). The red gives the impression that the seats are quite slim, but there’s a fair chunk of black behind the red, adding up to seats that are actually pretty big – but not excessively so, given that this is a large cabin.

cayenne coupe interior

It’s a similar design trick to the one employed by the exterior team, who made the roof look more radically sloped than it actually is: it’s the rear window that does most of the curving, rather than the roof. In my seven months with the Cayenne S Coupe, not one passenger complained about a restricted view out. It’s in fact the driver whose view is restricted, a little, by those smaller rear-door windows; pulling out of some trickily-angled junctions requires a degree of neck-arching.

It’s a big car with corners that are impossible to see from the driver’s seat, but it’s equipped with an excellent combination of sensors and cameras (at some cost: £522 for Park Assist, which includes Surround View). Reversing holds no fears, thanks to a screen view that’s always clear – the camera seemingly unaffected by road dirt – and sensors that don’t intrude or cry wolf, instead just letting you know when you’re getting close to an expensive collision.

At the push of a screen button you get the view from above, or in front, or down the side. Ideal in tight multi-storey car parks or when off-roading, to reduce the need to keep getting out to inspect the ruts and brambles that could be your undoing.

I did very little recognisable off-roading, just a few unsurfaced roads and car parks. I engaged Sand mode long enough to establish that it does something, but not long enough to be at all clear what that something is.
Ditto the lap timer. I now know how long it takes me to get home from the Morrisons car park in the morning, the afternoon, the evening and at night, but I’m pretty sure I could live without it. And the £858 electric towbar. I got it out to admire it a few times, but never once attached anything to it, because that would raise the possibility of having to reverse with a trailer, which is the worst thing in the world.

Although I did next to no off-roading, I did have the pleasure of driving the Porsche on a wide variety of different roads. Out of curiosity I would try different drive modes and ride heights, but nearly always ended up back in my chosen Individual configuration of Low ride height, Sport everything else. This seemed to be where the Venn diagram of chassis, engine, transmission and suspension happy places intersected.

The only time I thought that the car was struggling was on some very narrow, very bumpy and very cracked lanes north-west of Lake Windermere. There, the Cayenne S Coupe felt like a wide, heavy car on low-profile tyres. Which it is.

And after a couple of journeys using Sport+, I realised what I didn’t like about it. It’s like Jason Bourne: powerful, fast, formidably clever, but also rather stressful. In Sport+, I found myself on the verge of driving like a pushy idiot, wondering why everyone else was going so slowly.

Better to dial it down one to Sport, where the full real-world glory of the Cayenne S Coupe makes itself felt.

By Colin Overland

Logbook: Porsche Cayenne S Coupe

Price £73,658 (£91,449 as tested)
Performance 2894cc turbocharged V6, 435bhp, 5.0sec 0-62mph, 163mph
Efficiency 23.2mpg (official), 21.1mpg (tested), 278g/km CO2
Energy cost 26.8p per mile
Miles this month 159
Total miles 3663

Month 6 living with a Cayenne Coupe: bring on that synth fuel

cayenne coupe rear cornering

When someone lends you a Porsche, you can’t help but be a glass-half-full kind of person. Life is good. The sun is always shining.

But there are some glass-half-empty moments. Or, more pertinently, petrol-tank-half-empty. The Cayenne S Coupe’s fuel consumption is pretty terrible at the best of times. For all Porsche’s brilliant work in creating EVs that appeal to petrolheads, and in encouraging the development of synthetic fuels that may at some point in the future help keep internal-combustion cars on the road in a more sustainable way, you can’t avoid the conclusion that these are sticking plasters on a gushing stump. Porsche can’t be solely blamed for depleting the planet’s reserves of fossil fuels, but for several decades it’s been at the centre of an industry and a culture that’s sipped greedily on oil.

The irony is that driving this car in a brisk manner is not particularly bad for its fuel economy. You can clock up mpg figures in the high 20s on a lively back-road adventure, and you can descend into the teens when you’re commuting in stop-start traffic, all entirely within the speed limit.

It’s a joy to drive in its sweet spot, which corresponds to roughly 2500rpm to 6000rpm. Peak torque of 406lb ft is yours from 1800rpm to 5500rpm, while peak power of 436bhp is concentrated between 5700rpm and 6600rpm; but you don’t need the full output to enjoy this fine V6 and its eight-speed auto. It’s much, much happier in Sport than Normal.

So – self-serving conclusion alert! – the fuel consumption is slightly better when the Cayenne S Coupe is being driven as it was designed to be driven. This, I admit, is a conclusion based on a mileage that’s been artificially low because of our present circumstances. A shame that I’ve not been able to drive it more often and for longer distances – but then again, with fill-ups often approaching three-figure sums, there’s a silver lining there too.

By Colin Overland

Logbook: Porsche Cayenne S Coupe

Price £73,658 (£91,449 as tested)
Performance 2894cc turbocharged V6, 435bhp, 5.0sec 0-62mph, 163mph
Efficiency 23.2mpg (official), 18.5mpg (tested), 278g/km CO2
Energy cost 31.5p per mile
Miles this month 201
Total miles 3504

Month 5 living with a Cayenne Coupe: this all used to be 911s…

cayenne coupe lake district

It’s not on the raggedly surfaced but gloriously empty roads of the Lake District that it all makes sense. Nor is it on the M6. No, it’s in a traffic jam near Stoke where I finally appreciate the full glory of the Cayenne S Coupe.

I already knew it was great on twisty country roads, and that it was happy on motorways. But the Stoke epiphany sealed the deal. Because a traffic jam is actually a very tricky place for a car to shine. So many ways to fail: too cramped, too uncomfortable, too noisy, too jerky as the stop-start mechanism judders into action, and too many ugly or flimsy bits of plastic that you can ignore while you’re driving along but become the depressing objects of your unwilling fixation when you’re trapped at a standstill with them.

The Porsche has none of these problems. Instead, a jam is an opportunity to zoom in and out a few times on the nav map; scroll through some less familiar DAB stations; have a chat with the voice-activated digital assistant (I say a chat… I mean a one-sided flirtation); and make a couple of phone calls via the ultra-intuitive hands-free system.

Cayenne coupe porsche dealer

I was skirting Stoke on my zig-zag way to the southern tip of the Lake District, visiting the building site that is about to become Porsche Centre South Lakes, the successor to Porsche Centre Kendal, itself the successor to Parker & Parker. This, in short, is the longest continuing Porsche dealership in the UK, and I was keen to discuss what’s changed – and what’s stayed the same – about buying, selling, owning and living with Porsches over the years.

Ian Parker is the current boss, and grandson of the founder of the business, which began selling motorcycles in Kendal in the ’20s, moved into cars with VW in 1953 and added Porsche in 1957. Ian has his own pithy way of summing up the changes. ‘We had the second petrol pump in the county of Westmoreland. Now there’s no county of Westmoreland. Moving forward the best part of 100 years we’re going to have the first DC superchargers in our area.’

In the early days, Porsches were rare and expensive, and at times the range was just one model, so it made sense for the dealership to keep its VW franchise up to 1997.

‘Cars like the 924 were much maligned. It was actually a very good car, although of course it wasn’t a 911. It grew our business considerably and made it viable to go down the Porsche-only route.’ In more recent years the range has got very much broader, with the Boxster/Cayman, Panamera, Cayenne and Macan.

‘We as a business, Porsche as a business, couldn’t survive just on enthusiasts. We’ve got customers who can afford to buy 20 Porsches at once, and people who’ve been saving up for years. It’s nice to see people glowing with excitement when they get that first Porsche.’

The growing line-up combined with increasing sales prompted the Parkers to decide five years ago to expand. Moving out of Kendal, about 15 miles south to junction 35 of the M6, was a big step, so it’s taken a while.

Ian says: ‘We’d grown out of our existing premises years ago, and we had planning permission to knock down and start again where we were, but it was apparent that doing that would be a short-term thing, so we had to look at moving. It’s an enormous decision for a relatively small family company to make. It cements our confidence in the brand and our customers.’

cayenne coupe hills

His son Simon – the fourth generation of Parkers to be involved in the business – adds: ‘It feels like the Taycan is the turning over of a new chapter for Porsche and therefore for us as a business. We’ve got to nurture what we’ve always had, but you’ve got to have your eyes on the future.’

They’re expecting Porsche owners to drop in for an ultra-rapid charge and a chat, and a mooch round a showroom that will have room for rare or historic Porsches as well as the current line-up.

‘It’s almost a clubhouse feel,’ says Simon. ‘We have a lot of customers who’ve met through our business and then branched off into really lasting friendships, WhatsApp groups, car tours. You want to be the catalyst for that. They’ll be able to use us as a stop-off or a destination. It’ll be easier to drop in as part of a trip, rather than having to detour into the centre of Kendal. With the new place you just nip off the motorway and away you go.’

The expansion means the business is taking on a handful of extra staff, too. The nature of those staff is, Ian notes, another sign of changing times. ‘There’s still the requirement for the mechanic but it is reducing gradually. When we’re looking to take a new technician on now, if he’s not fully computer literate, sadly he’s probably not going to get a job in the industry.’

Exciting times. Any downsides? It takes a moment to find one, but Simon just about manages: ‘The one negative is that we’ll lose the A6, the best test track in the North West. But we’re finding that there are some other pretty good roads…’

By Colin Overland

Logbook: Porsche Cayenne S Coupe

Price £73,658 (£91,449 as tested)
Performance 2894cc turbocharged V6, 435bhp, 5.0sec 0-62mph, 163mph
Efficiency 23.2mpg (official), 23.1mpg (tested), 278g/km CO2
Energy cost 25.2p per mile
Miles this month 521
Total miles 3303

Month 4 living with a Porsche Cayenne Coupe: errands wanted

cayenne coupe rear seats

Shopping, transporting children and taking old bikes to the dump – the circle of life – can require something a bit more substantial than the Cayman that we’d all drive in the ideal world. I’m not claiming the Cayenne S Coupe is the purely logical next step in this argument, but it does make a decent stab at the sensible stuff.

The roof’s curve is more dramatic on the outside than the inside, and the rear seats are lowered to keep it pretty roomy. Ours is a four-seater, so two adults can spread out happily. The smaller rear windows might make it feel claustrophic, but the combination of panoramic sunroof and red leather nips that in the bud (at some cost).

Compared to the non-Coupe version of the Cayenne, there’s less boot space (by 147 litres with the rear seats up, 168 with them down) although it’s still a decent size. However, the shape discourages tricky loads. And then there’s the question of the loveliness of the paintwork and the leather: you just don’t want to risk scratching, scuffing or tearing anything. So that trip to the dump eventually happened in the family Peugeot instead.

Even routine local errands are a delight in the Porsche, for driver and passengers alike. It feels good, sounds good, smells good. The spiritual uplift of driving this car is entirely real, and happens every time.

By Colin Overland

Logbook: Porsche Cayenne S Coupe

Price £73,658 (£91,449 as tested)
Performance 2894cc turbocharged V6, 435bhp, 5.0sec 0-62mph, 163mph
Efficiency 23.2mpg (official), 17.6mpg (tested), 278g/km CO2
Energy cost 30.4p per mile
Miles this month 123
Total miles 2782

Month 3 living with a Porsche Cayenne Coupe: bow to your robot overlord

cayenne coupe infotainment

The voice of the infotainment system does not want to be your friend. If you press the button to open the mic but fail to speak quickly enough, it sternly says ‘Excuse me’ in a petulant way, as if you’d interrupted while it was doing something much more interesting. And then a couple of seconds later, if you’re still silent, it tartly concludes this largely one-sided interaction: ‘Cancel.’

If you try one of the suggested ‘smart’ phrases, ‘I’m cold’, it responds ‘It will get warmer in a minute’ with a Samuel Beckettian bleakness. I love everything about this car, even if it doesn’t love me.

By Colin Overland

Logbook: Porsche Cayenne S Coupe

Price £73,658 (£91,449 as tested)
Performance 2894cc turbocharged V6, 435bhp, 5.0sec 0-62mph, 163mph
Efficiency 23.2mpg (official), 21.0mpg (tested), 278g/km CO2
Energy cost 26.1p per mile
Miles this month 521
Total miles 2659

Month 2 living with a Porsche Cayenne Coupe: joy to the world

cayenne coupe rear cornering

It’s a bright, frosty morning. Maximum blower on the screen, heated element on the rear, and on my seat too. By the time I’ve plumbed my destination into the nav, the glass is all clear and I need to turn my seat down to zero.

Slowly out of town, bide my time behind a cautiously driven Civic, then the moment the other lane is clear I’m round and gone, the turbocharged V6 responding heartily and instantly. It’s thrillingly alive, with a deepness to the sound that’s a match for the weight of the controls.

Turn right into a narrower lane, with mud encroaching from the wet fields on either side. When I have to stop straddling the crown because there’s an oncoming car, the tyres shrug off any thoughts of a split-mu ambush. I’ve probably moved over more than is necessary; the Cayenne Coupe is big but not too big for English B-roads. And from some brief experiments I know that the Porsche has the grip, the ruggedness and the ride height to cope with verges, laybys, farm tracks – anything a little tricky.

A bendy bit. Everything feels so well balanced and co-ordinated. I look where I want to go, I use the throttle to say how fast I’d like to go, and there we are.

I reach my destination, conduct my largely unnecessary business and head back home, taking a slightly curvier route. Auto shifting is fine, but I use the paddles. First in D, but I soon realise how keen the car is to override your choices and return to full auto. Then in M, which leaves you in whichever gear you’ve chosen. It’s a good opportunity to rev a bit more, and let the V6 hit some higher notes.

And then back into town, auto again, no need to mess with the other modes, ease off the gas, relax into the firm but comfortable sports seat, close the blind on the panoramic glass roof to avoid being dazzled from above, turn some music on to take advantage of the Bose audio upgrade, and wonder when I’ll next find an excuse to go for a drive.

By Colin Overland

Logbook: Porsche Cayenne S Coupe

Price £73,658 (£91,449 as tested)
Performance 2894cc turbocharged V6, 435bhp, 5.0sec 0-62mph, 163mph
Efficiency 23.2mpg (official), 22.1mpg (tested), 278g/km CO2
Energy cost 22.9p per mile
Miles this month 430
Total miles 2138

Month 1 living with a Porsche Cayenne Coupe: hello and welcome

Cayenne Coupe LTT front cornering

Go on, ask me anything. I’ve got figures. I’ve got hand gestures. I’ve got comparisons. But mostly I’ve got a smile.

So far, much to my surprise, everyone who’s wanted to talk to me about the Cayenne S Coupe (oh, the fun I’ve had telling people where the S goes in the name) is excited and pleased. Also, in many cases, they’re a bit confused.

Postman. Car park bloke. Petrol station blokes. Rugby dads. Kids. They like the look of it, even though it’s so black as to be barely visible when it’s parked at night.

Interestingly, given that journalists tend to get hung up on this, nobody demands a breakdown of how much is shared with the Audi Q8 or Lamborghini Urus or VW Touareg or Bentley Bentayga. It seems my self-selecting focus group is ahead of me in that regard; they understand full well that some bits are unique and some bits are common, in cars as in computers as in shampoo. It’s just the way stuff is made these days. In any case, the coupe shape makes it look like a Macan in some lights, so people aren’t necessarily making those comparisons.

This means I haven’t had much chance to give my speech about how the important thing with the VW Group is that the differentiation is all focused on the bits that matter. So, sure, you can catch a Touareg or a Q8 out of the corner of your eye and see the resemblance. But the way all the controls behave in the Cayenne S Coupe – major, minor, even voice control – is uniquely Porsche.

Furthermore, much of the brilliance is unique not just to Porsche, not just to the Cayenne, not just to the Cayenne S, but to the Cayenne S Coupe.

Which is what, exactly? Glad you asked. Generation three of the Cayenne is the first to have a Coupe variant. It seems to be the sort of thing people want – look no further than the raked-rear versions of the Merc GLE, BMW X5 and Audi Q7, and some newer SUVs have gone straight in with a coupe look, including the Urus and the Aston DBX. It’s a thing, beyond logic, but a thing all the same.

In the case of the Cayenne, it’s been very craftily executed. The roof does indeed slope more at the back, but some of it’s illusory, as the bit above the occupants’ heads isn’t anything like as swooshy as the C-pillars. The A-pillars are re-angled too, to ensure a coherent look. And it’s no coincidence that the SUV’s three-seat rear bench has been replaced by two seats, so the passengers can slump. Their seats are set lower too. Only the tallest adults will want more headroom.

The Coupe gets an adaptive rear spoiler at the bottom of the rear screen, rising up by 135mm at 56mph (or if you press the button). It loses the rear wiper. And the rear wheelarches are fractionally wider.

So yes, you lose some boot space, but it’s still a decent size, at 625 litres with the rear seats up (versus the SUV’s 770), or 1540 with them down (against 1710). The aperture is less load-friendly, so this is not a vehicle for carrying wardrobes.

The S version, sitting roughly in the middle of the range (basic and E-Hybrid below; GTS, Turbo and Turbo S E-Hybrid above it) has Porsche’s 2.9-litre turbocharged V6, driving all four wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. It makes 435bhp at 5700rpm and 406lb ft at 1800rpm.

A full-length glass roof is standard (carbonfibre is an option). This one has a big bunch of options, from air suspension, rear-wheel steer and 22-inch wheels to upgraded Bose audio, a sportier front bumper and embossed headrests.

Cayenne Coupe LTT rear

It looks, feels, smells and drives nothing like a big Audi, big VW, Lamborghini or Bentley – all cars I very much admire. But as I said, nobody is asking about that. They want performance figures and they want a price. They all have a good laugh about that, especially the bit about how it’s a £70k-ish car really, but this particular one is £90k-ish. And I join in the laughter, because I can’t really imagine having 90k to spend on a car, let alone actually doing so.

But the more I live with it, the more I wish I had, because it’s so magically good to drive, as I shall spend several months explaining.

Spec details of our new Cayenne Coupe

Audio upgrade
Bose Surround Sound adds £956, but it’s sensationally good. I don’t need an amazing sound system to enjoy my preferred music, which is generally so rough ‘n’ ready that a transistor radio can do it justice, but I really appreciate the way that this makes podcasts and radio plays so easy to listen to.

Sports seats
The Coupe comes with eight-way electronically adjustable sports seats with built-in headrests, but this car adds £308 of heating for the fronts and £320 of Porsche crest embossed on all four headrests. That’s on top of the £2753 you pay for the two-tone black and red leather.

Adaptive air suspension
It’s £1511. As well as offering levels of sporty firmness, it also offers a choice of ride height. Early days, but different settings do seem to make a worthwhile difference.

20s are standard, but these are optional 22-inch RS Spyder Design wheels, with their own wheelarch extensions. And for £1448, my rears join in the steering.

I hate towing things, but I love knowing that I could. This is a particularly elegant solution, for £858. One button in the boot makes it appear, another button makes it fold away again. If you don’t know it’s there, you really don’t notice it.

By Colin Overland

Logbook: Porsche Cayenne S Coupe

Price £73,658 (£91,449 as tested)
Performance 2894cc turbocharged V6, 435bhp, 5.0sec 0-62mph, 163mph
Efficiency 23.2mpg (official), 23.5mpg (tested), 278g/km CO2
Energy cost 21.2p per mile
Miles this month 436
Total miles 1708

View Porsche Cayenne S Coupe lease deals

By Colin Overland

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