New car review

Porsche Cayenne Coupé E-Hybrid test drive

Porsche has introduced a more efficient plug-in hybrid version of its Cayenne Coupe, but is it the version to go for?

You might still think of Porsche for its 911 and Boxster models, but in production terms the company is now primarily an SUV maker that also makes sports cars. The Cayenne and smaller Macan are now Porsche’s two most popular vehicles, providing a slice of Porsche’s sports car inspiration in a much more practical layout.

It’s perhaps not surprising then that plug-in hybrid versions of models like the Cayenne have proven popular, which give the flexibility to pootle around town under electric power, and then utilise the petrol engine elsewhere. And now there’s a new plug-in hybrid version of the sleek new Cayenne Coupé*.
[* – not an actual coupé, simply a German obsession with plastering the name ‘coupé’ on four-door models that are slightly sleeker than regular models – Ed]

What’s new?

The Cayenne name will have soon been around for nearly 20 years, and for the majority of that time it has been available in just one bodystyle – a big, wagon-shaped, SUV.

But the increasing popularity of swoopier SUVs including the BMW X6 and Mercedes GLE Coupé has seen Porsche introduce a new ‘Coupé’ derivative to its large SUV. It has the same overall footprint as the regular Cayenne but the back end of the roof has been chopped to provide a more raked rear window, trading luggage capacity and rear headroom for style.

Buyers can also choose a new plug-in hybrid option, which is known as the E-Hybrid. It’s not a new powertrain – it’s already available in the regular Cayenne – but it adds a new dimension to this coupé-styled SUV.

How does it look?

Despite ‘coupé’ SUVs usually aiming to be more stylish than the car they’re based on, on many occasions they miss the mark and actually look worse – you only have to see the awkward fiddly styling on the BMW X6 for an example of this.

But that’s no such issue on this Porsche, which to these eyes is one of the best-looking SUVs on offer today. While large and imposing, it’s never brash to look at, and a particular highlight is the full-width rear light bar that illuminates the Porsche logo at night. Not that you can see that from the driver’s seat, obviously.

What’s the spec like?

If you’ve ever played with the Porsche online configurator, you’ll know that they don’t usually come especially well-equipped as standard. While you get electric sports seats, the large touchscreen and 20-inch alloy wheels here are just two of the many additional-cost extras on the options list.

But choose carefully, as those extras don’t come cheap. Our test car had more than £20,000-worth of options on top of the £71,424 base price. Like that black and red interior? Us too, but it’ll cost you £2,753. A head-up display? That’s another £1,052. Want an enhanced safety pack, which includes adaptive cruise control? Well that’s a rather steep £2,172 – unbelievable, given you get it as standard on an entry-level Volkswagen Golf.

However, what impresses about the E-Hybrid version is that it’s actually a bit cheaper than the similarly powerful Cayenne S, though that will be more enjoyable to drive.

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E-Hybrid models also feature ‘Acid Green’ detailing, including on the logos and brake callipers, and subtly placed around the interior.

What’s it like inside?

Show-stopping is the best way to describe the Cayenne’s cabin. It does away with the gimmicky twin screens that some rivals have and just uses one huge 12-inch touchscreen. It’s slick to use and looks superb as well.

The gearstick is also surrounded by buttons that utilise haptic feedback, with each lighting up whenever they’re in use. It’s a really cool touch, if a bit distracting to use when you’re on the move. High-quality materials are utilised throughout – as you’d expect from a £90,000 car – while subtle sporty features and logos remind you that you’re driving something special.

While the sloping roofline takes a chunk out of the boot space, the Cayenne Coupé’s cargo space is still vast, while there will be no qualms from adults sitting in the rear seats.

What’s under the bonnet?

Porsche has experience with plug-in hybrids, and the firm aims to utilise the electricity as much for performance as efficiency.

With the E-Hybrid, Porsche mates its regular 3.0-litre V6 from the base Cayenne with an electric motor and a 14.1kWh battery to produce a maximum of 462hp and 700Nm of torque. It certainly sounds plenty, and while it’s far from slow, it never feels quite as quick as the figures suggest.

It can hit 0-60mph in 4.9 seconds and would reach a top speed of 157mph given space. All-wheel-drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox are utilised too.

As for efficiency, Porsche claims you’ll return 60-70mpg, with CO2 emissions of 91g/km. However, you’ll need to be charging all the time and doing small journeys to get figures like that, as the petrol engine is particularly thirsty once it kicks in to life. A 15-20 mile electric range can be expected from a full charge.

What’s it like to drive?

While few large SUVs feel as good behind the wheel as the Cayenne Coupé, the additional weight of the battery pack means that it’s not quite as sharp to drive as other derivatives in the line-up. That said, it’s the best of any plug-in hybrid SUV, as the steering is direct and it handles better than any car of this size should have the right to. At nearly 2m wide, though, you won’t feel quite as willing to launch it down a twisty B-road as you would something a bit smaller.

Bizarrely for a Porsche, though, this is a model that actually lends itself better to more leisurely driving, and has an exceptionally comfortable ride, even on large 21-inch alloys. However, to make the most of the E-Hybrid, you’re best using it around town, where it’s smoother and far more efficient. Longer journeys or those when the batteries aren’t topped up just unearth how inefficient the petrol engine is on its own.

Verdict

The Cayenne Coupé is a stunning car to look at, whether you’re sat in the driver’s seat and admiring the interior or viewing it as a passer-by and taking in its cool swoopy styling. For many, that and the badge will be all the reasons in the world to get one.

The E-Hybrid itself is a mixed bag, though. The increased weight of the batteries numbs the driving experience somewhat, and while still impressing, driven back-to-back with a regular Cayenne Coupé you’ll soon feel the difference. The engine is also too thirsty on its own accord, so unless you just drive small journeys and charge all the time, it’s likely to not be much cheaper to run than a regular model.

However, if you’re in the position where you can run one as a company car, you’ll soon be saving money on tax, while given it’s more or less the same price as the regular petrol ‘S’ model, it should still prove to be an appealing choice for many.

Similar cars

Audi Q8 | BMW X6 | Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé

Key specifications

Model tested: Porsche Cayenne Coupé E-Hybrid
Price as tested: £92,957
Engine: 3.0-litre petrol plus electric motor
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic

Power: 462 hp
Torque: 700 Nm
Top speed: 157 mph
0-60mph: 4.9 seconds

Fuel economy (combined): 60.1-70.6 mpg
CO2 emissions: 91-108 g/km
Euro NCAP safety rating: Five stars (2017)
TCE Expert Rating: Not yet rated (November 2020)

Ted Welford
Ted Welford
Articles by Ted Welford are provided for The Car Expert by PA Media (formerly the Press Association). They include test drives of the latest new cars and features on various aspects of automotive life.

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