CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.
The Porsche Cayenne stable is rather crowded these days, with both traditionally shaped SUV and Coupe body styles to choose from. Under each of those pillars there are also your standard base and S trim levels, an E-Hybrid, heavy-hitting Turbo models and the recently introduced GTS. While Roadshow Managing Editor Steve Ewing finds the S to be the sweet spot in the Cayenne range, I'm afraid there's no denying the appeal of the extra performance and style that comes with the 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe.
Like any Porsche model wearing the Turbo badge, the Cayenne Coupe is armed with a potent drivetrain. A 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 spits out 541 horsepower and 567 pound-feet of torque, with the latter at your beck and call between 1,960 rpm and 4,500 rpm. Mind you, that isn't the completely bonkers 670 horses and 663 pound-feet in the king-of-the-hill Turbo S E-Hybrid, but it's still enough to propel the 5,024-pound lug to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and to a 177 mph top speed. Quick? Fast? I'd say so.
The Cayenne Turbo's engine is a smooth operator, with nary a hint of boost lag while giving off a nice, low rumble out the optional sport exhaust. In need of extra oomph to make a pass or merge onto the expressway? The push-to-pass Sport Response button on the steering wheel provides max performance for up to 20 seconds, which admittedly is quite fun.
Routing power to all four of the Cayenne's wheels is an eight-speed automatic transmission. It rips off brisk and well-timed gear changes when left alone in Sport and Sport Plus modes and is also responsive to upshifts and downshifts when I opt to do it myself via the steering wheel-mounted paddles. Sport Plus is a little too high-strung for driving around town, as the transmission prefers to hold on to gears a bit too long, but Sport is a perfect match for spirited daily driving.
When I feel like taking things easy, the Turbo's default Normal setting calms things down. Throttle response isn't quite so immediate and gear shifts are still smooth, but not as rapid. Driving it like this will give you the best shot at returning the EPA-estimated 15 miles per gallon in the city and 19 mpg on the highway. I observed 18.4 mpg over the course of my week, filled with a sizable amount of expressway motoring.
Being a Porsche, the Cayenne Turbo Coupe sits at the head of the class in the dynamics department. In Turbo form, it improves on the Cayenne S with a standard three-chamber air suspension system, forged aluminum rear suspension links, Porsche Surface Coated Brakes and 21-inch wheels wrapped with Pirelli P-Zero tires. My test car is also equipped with a few other handle-better goodies like active anti-roll bars and a torque-vectoring rear differential.
Dialing up Sport Plus, I'm greeted with immediate turn-in when cranking on the Coupe's wheel, which has a weighty feel and satisfying feedback. Body movements are always kept in check with minimal dive under braking and roll entering corners. Through gradual bends the Pirellis provide a big helping of grip, and in sharper complexes, the rear end does hustle around nicely with the help of the anti-roll bars and rear diff.
When I need to bleed off speed, the 10-piston front calipers bite down on the mondo 16.3-inch rotors, and four-piston rear clampers with 14.3-inch discs confidently slow matters at the rear. Brake pedal feel is firm with good modulation capabilities, and Porsche claims that the tungsten carbide-coated rotors and special brake pads can cut down on brake dust by up to 90% compared with standard steel brakes. In addition to helping to keep the Cayenne's exterior cleaner, Porsche says these brakes provide more consistent performance in extreme conditions such as track work. How many Cayenne Turbo Coupes will ever see a proper racetrack? Probably not many, but hey, it's nice to have the power.
For something weighing a smidge over 2.5 tons, the way the Turbo turns, corners and stops is truly impressive, making for an engaging drive. On top of that, it can be damn comfortable. As I said, I covered a lot of miles during my test week on all types of surfaces ranging from broken and rutted pavement to baby-smooth asphalt. The suspension offers some semblance of ride compliance in Sport, but Normal is what you want when the going gets rough, with the air suspension expertly taking the edge off small to medium impacts. It makes clicking off the miles a cinch.
Visually, the Cayenne Coupe is pleasing to look at. The faster roofline and abundance of rear spoilers do give it a slightly sportier look than the standard Cayenne. Throw in the Turbo's more aggressive front bumper, its bigger wheels and the Coupe-only lava-orange paint and it garners lots of positive attention from other motorists. I'm usually not one for retina-searing hues, but this car packs the performance to back up the paint job, so it's all right in this case.
Heading inside, the Turbo Coupe's cabin is like other Cayennes, boasting an attractive, intuitive design and excellent build quality. The Coupe's standard panoramic glass roof keeps surroundings light and there isn't a cut-rate surface anywhere. The major portions of the dash and door panels are wrapped in leather and there's an Alcantara headliner. It's also comfortable, with the Turbo's 18-way adaptive front sport seats doing a good job of holding riders in place and keeping them ache-free during longer expeditions.
There are, however, some interior shortcomings. The faster roofline means people getting in and out of the backseat will need to duck their heads more, but once inside, there is serviceable headroom since the rear passengers sit 1.18 inches lower in the Coupe than in the regular Cayenne. Cargo space also takes a hit, at 21.1 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 53.3 cubic feet with the seats down instead of the standard car's 26.3 cubic feet and 59.3 cubic feet, respectively. That's not really a huge decrease, as I loaded the Coupe with a lot of stuff a couple of times. But what is annoying is not being able to fold the second-row seats down from the trunk area and having to walk around to each rear door to flip them forward.
The Turbo's tech hand is strong. The Porsche Communication Management infotainment system oversees things on a 12.3-inch touchscreen that offers a healthy amount of configurability. It also runs a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound audio setup, navigation, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay. Sadly, Android Auto is a feature that's still missing in action.
When it comes to safety technology, my test car is light in that department, with front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring and forward collision warning. Other popular systems are available as options, such adaptive cruise control for $2,000, a 360-degree camera for $1,200, night vision for $2,420 and a head-up display that will set you back $1,720.
If you're not careful, it's easy to get carried away building any Porsche vehicle. For me, it's an exercise in restraint and checking the boxes for the things I want to have in an entertaining daily driver. Sign me up for the $3,150 chalk paint color, the 21-inch RS Spyder Design Wheels because they look so much better than the standard ones, the $950 blind-spot monitoring and the $690 wireless charging compartment. To increase performance, I'll take the $3,220 sport exhaust system and $1,500 torque-vectoring rear differential. Including the $1,350 destination charge, my ideal Cayenne Turbo Coupe will cost me not insignificant $144,020. Not drastically more affordable than my $146,920 test car, but still cheaper.
The 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe starts at $133,250 including destination, representing a rather steep $4,100 increase over the regular Cayenne Turbo. Whether the additional cost is worth having a modestly more stylish take on the Cayenne is going to come down to personal preference. Personally, I think I would pony up for the sleeker body, which is a little surprising, but the small tweaks Porsche made to the Coupe are just enough to do it for me.