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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist


New faced Porsche Cayenne S Coupe shows why middle is best

Return of the V8 promises a lot, but delivers dramatically more.


When it became a reality 21 years ago, the Porsche Cayenne created an uproar no past model wearing the famed Zuffenhausen crest had caused in a long time.

The outcry

Apart from staunch Porsche loyalists still bemoaning the presence of the Boxster, the Cayenne entered the proverbial lion’s den knowing full well its fight for survival had against not only the naysayers, but also the clock.

ALSO READ: Overhauled Porsche Cayenne revealed with more tech and grunt

Despite the introduction of the Boxster below the 911, Porsche was still facing an uncertain future as sales of the models in question still didn’t add-up.

Successful risk

As history ultimately showed, the risk turned-out to be a masterstroke as the Cayenne not only became a runaway success, but also the best-selling Porsche model, an accolade it continues to hold today.

The model that became known as the saviour of the Porsche brand, the Cayenne also represented a calculated risk assessed in great detail, before being approved for production.

Facelift Porsche Cayenne S Coupe road test
New taillights as part of a restyled facia is exclusive to the Coupe.

The same can, therefore, be said of the Cayenne Coupe. With its introduction, based on the current third generation in 2019, the Coupe entered the sloping-roof styled SUV segment well in arrears as key rivals, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and sister brand Audi, have long been present via the X6, GLE Coupe and Q8.

Patience, as the saying goes, is a virtue and while the coupe negated the same level of criticism as the original received, it still had its detractors.

Need to upsize

In a reversal though, the detraction no longer centred on the Cayenne or its styling, but rather the choice of engine underneath the bonnet of the popular S variant.

Whereas the first two generations had been motivated by a normally aspirated V8 until a mid-life update in 2015, the downsized 2.9-litre bi-turbo V6, and for that matter the preceding twin-blown 3.6, wasn’t cutting it with buyers in the same way as the bent-eight did.

Aesthetic refresh

The return of the forced assisted 4.0-litre unit in the S as part of the Cayenne’s introductory refresh was the answer. Minus any type of hybrid assistance, the S, in Coupe guise, made for an interesting prospect upon its arrival for a shortened five day stay.

Facelift Porsche Cayenne S Coupe road test
Optional 21-inch alloys can be upsized to 23-inches.

A design arguably no longer with the “polarising” description attached, the coupe, as with its sibling, receives subtle changes in the form of a new bumper, a restyled grille, new bonnet and wider wheel arches to the accommodate the alloy wheel now measuring up to 23-inches.

Equipped with new, standard, Matrix LED headlights, the Coupe, besides its roof design, boasts a different rear facia to that of the standard Cayenne, also altered with new LED light clusters still connected by a full-width central light bar.

Interior goes above facelift principle

Porsche debuts facelift Cayenne in South Africa
Minimalist interior not only inviting on first glance, but quality is typical Porsche superb.

Mounted on the optional 21-inch alloy wheels, the Cayenne Coupe, while able to silence aesthetic critic, is more a mixed bag inside where the interior has undergone a complete redesign more representative of a new model than a lifecycle refresh.

Derived from the Taycan, the Cayenne takes leave of not only the analogue instrument cluster, but also the previous 10.9-inch Porsche Communication Management infotainment system.

Porsche debuts facelift Cayenne in South Africa
New 12.6-inch digital instrument cluster can be customised, but has a clear resolution.

In their respective places resides a new 12.6-inch digital cluster and a 12.3-inch display, which can be supplemented further by an optional 10.9-inch system on the passenger’s side our tester did without.

Backed into a new dashboard, the layout is topped by a chronograph atop the dashboard and a new centre console that sees the gear lever relocated to the left of the steering wheel on the dash in a toggle switch configuration.

Porsche debuts facelift Cayenne in South Africa
The 12.3-inch Porsche Communication Management takes a few moments to figure out.

An ergonomic layout easy to fathom, never mind the sublime fit-and-finish and feel of the materials, the retention of physical switches and a dial for the cracking, optional, Bose sound system on the console is, however, somewhat blighted by the excessive use of piano key black accents that will require continues maintenance to keep clean.

The only other point of major content is the infotainment system, which will require familiarisation for less technically minded buyers.

Still practical

Unsurprisingly, the combination of the sloping roof and panoramic sunroof does impact on rear headroom for taller passenger seated at the rear, but not by a great margin as is often the case with SUVs of this type.

Driving the updated Porsche Cayenne Coupe
Despite being a coupe, the Cayenne is still practical with 625-litres of boot space available.

Compared to the standard Cayenne S, practicality in the coupe takes a dip, but not by much. Offering 625-litres of boot space with the rear seats up, a decrease of 73-litres, dropping the 60/40 split chairs ups capacity to 1 540-litres, a drop of 168-litres.

Driving the updated Porsche Cayenne Coupe
Dropping the rear seats frees up more space for a total of 1 540-litres.

Unsurprisingly comfortable and supportive from the behind the wheel, the Cayenne is all about the feel and as much as the metallic bark of the V8 on start-up promises a lot, the final delivery is nothing short of jaw dropping with equally as big a thump.

Getting to the highlight, that V8

Porsche debuts facelift Cayenne in South Africa
Familiar chronograph on top of the dashboard remains an optional extra.

Firing 349kW/600Nm at all four wheels through an eight-speed Tiptronic S gearbox, the V8 offers-up 25kW/50Nm more than the V6.

Although meagre sounding on paper, it propels the 2 190 kg Cayenne S Coupe along with such ease you could be forgiven for not noticing three-digit speed figures almost immediately.

Porsche Cayenne S Coupe road test South Africa
New centre console sports physical and touch-sensitive switchgear, but no longer a gear lever.

Not requiring a second invite to lift the coupe’s nose with ease, the brutal soundtrack with its pops and bangs effectively rendered the audio system obsolete for most of the five days.

Vocal, but just as happy to burble along at town speeds, the V8 left its biggest surprise for the confines of the Gerotek.

Driving the updated Porsche Cayenne Coupe
Standard seats are hugely supportive.

Fitted with the optional Sport Chrono package, which cuts an additional three-tenths of a second off of the claimed 0-100 km/h sprint, the final figure clocked by Road Test Mark Jones was faster still – an additional two-tenths for an eventual 4.5 second run with launch control in use.

Impressive in “normal” mode

Away from of Gerotek in the everyday urban jungle, the S showed no let-up as the combination of the twin-chamber adaptive air suspension, electrified anti roll-bars and a razor sharp steering resulted in a perfectly balanced feel that can be adjusted depending on the position of not only the suspension, but also the conspicuous drive mode dial jutting out from below the steering wheel.

Porsche Cayenne S Coupe road test South Africa
Drive mode selector offers a choice of four settings; Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual.

In total, five settings are offered; Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Offroad, the former being selected throughout most of the five days, with Sport and Sport Plus being equally dialled when the opportunity arose.

Besides the seamless manner in which the Tiptronic ‘box goes about its business regardless of the selected mode, the S’ brakes remained as sharp as its steering after the bout at Gerotek, with the same applying to the comfort and refinement.

Driving the updated Porsche Cayenne Coupe
Sloping roof, unsurprisingly, impacts on rear passenger headroom, though legroom is more agreeable.

Again unsurprisingly, but unlikely to ruffle buyers willing to part with the R2 232 000 asked by the Cayenne S Coupe before options, the V8’s penchant for 95 will require frequent visits to the pumps when driven in the manner asked.

As such, the indicated fuel consumption dipped to as low as a commendable 12.5 L/100 km at one point, before shooting up to just under 14-litres per 100 km after its Gerotek performance.

Conclusion

The South African mindset of buying either an entry-level car or the flagship is a well vested local certainty as neither are likely to attract the supposed criticism that comes with purchasing a mid-range offering.

Facelift Porsche Cayenne S Coupe road test
S reverts back to a V8 engine after a previously being powered by a V6.

In this context, the Porsche Cayenne S Coupe can be seen as challenging this stigma head-on for arguably being the “complete” sloping-roof derivative in the case of the standard Cayenne not being preferred.

An eye-watering R299 000 step-up from the unbadged V6 base model it nonetheless still is, the extra outlay still rates as worthwhile expenditure justified the moment the V8 clears its throat before letting rip.

Road Test Data

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