Is this the best han­dling Porsche SUV there is? It cer­tainly makes a strong case


PORSCHE’S EN­GI­NEERS might ac­tu­ally be wizards. There have been sev­eral ex­am­ples of rel­a­tively in­ex­pen­sive cars from the Stuttgart brand best­ing pricier com­pe­ti­tion, but now Porsche seems to have done some­thing in­cred­i­bly rare. It’s made an SUV that han­dles well. Very well. That SUV is the Porsche Cayenne S Coupe, and it might just be the most sen­si­ble op­tion if you re­ally want an SUV that’s fun to drive. I’ll leave the ‘get a wagon’ ar­gu­ment out of it this time.

So, the first thing you need to know is that the Cayenne S Coupe will set you back at least $166K, more if you tick op­tions (you will) like the ‘com­fort ac­cess’ box which adds $2420 to the price for key­less en­try. Our test car was $190,580 as-tested, which in­cluded a $5000 paint op­tion.

Paint aside, the styling of the Cayenne S Coupe is much bet­ter than ini­tial press im­agery would have had us believe, and we sus­pect you may still feel the same with the shots you see amongst these words. It’s a bet­ter­look­ing car in the me­tal, so you’ll have to take our word for now. The rake of the rear end is rather sleek, and though it’s still Cayenne-sized, it looks pur­pose­ful. In­side, the same goes: sleek, sen­si­ble, and pur­pose­ful.

Once out on the test­ing route of our choice (hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced a pleas­ant ride on its stan­dard air sus­pen­sion for the com­mute), the top of Lake Moun­tain via Reefton Spur, the Cayenne S Coupe quickly made it known it could tackle a drive un­like many other SUVs can.

Rather than stiff­en­ing up far too much to be com­fort­able in Sport Plus, the Cayenne low­ers it­self slightly and uses its Porsche Ac­tive Sus­pen­sion Man­age­ment (PASM) with pre­ci­sion. It’s cal­i­brated well enough that, rather than be­com­ing an un­der­steer­ing mess though fast cor­ners, the S Coupe holds its line and ac­tu­ally ro­tates with a hint of over­steer, an ea­ger­ness to turn partly thanks to op­tional ($4300) rear­axle steer­ing.

It be­haves in such a way that, and I hes­i­tate to write this, mim­ics a sports car. It feels much more com­posed and far less top-heavy than any­thing its size

should. In fact, its han­dling and grip (on Pirelli P Ze­roes) al­low you to ask things of the car you shouldn’t be able to, then get away with it, and won­der ‘how?’ But we are con­fi­dent that the Cayenne S Coupe’s tal­ents are not solely down to grip, as there was plenty of tyre squeal and mi­nor slip­page as the two-tonne beast at­tacked cor­ners, with the Pirellis start­ing to reach the lim­its of their abil­ity but with­out giv­ing up com­pletely unan­nounced. Its chas­sis al­ways keeps you in the loop as to how much grip is avail­able; even on a cold, damp road, it feels as though it would take great ef­fort to over­es­ti­mate what the tyres have to give. Mean­while Sport Plus mode hints again at a wild dy­namic per­son­al­ity that makes us want to get this SUV on a track. Re­ally.

After the cor­ner, the sweet 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6’s 324kW and 550Nm come into play. It’s a strong en­gine which de­liv­ers power smoothly, so much so you wouldn’t guess it’s claimed to hit 100km/h in five sec­onds flat. It’s even rather re­spon­sive for a tur­bocharged en­gine, and if you’re on top of the gear­box (which can of­ten be left to its own de­vices) you’ll find there’s al­ways power when you need it. It pairs well with the chas­sis… and it sounds good too, which brings us to an­other op­tion.

The only other box we’d sug­gest you need to tick is the sports ex­haust, which was $5970 on our test car with tailpipes in sil­ver. This gives the en­gine’s sound a bit more bark and comes across rather in­tensely even from out­side the car, free of the false gen­er­ated sounds in­side.

With some fru­gal choices, you could prob­a­bly land a Cayenne S Coupe that’s as sat­is­fy­ing to drive as this one for around $175K. For this re­viewer, it’s the only SUV in re­cent mem­ory that’s re­ally worth tak­ing for a drive on moun­tain roads just for the sake of it. It feels more bal­anced and com­posed than even smaller, faster SUVs from ri­val com­pa­nies – AMG’s sim­i­larly priced GLC63 S, for ex­am­ple. It might be the best driver’s SUV for less than $200,000. In fact, As­so­ciate Editor Scott Newman had a steer with yours truly in the pas­sen­ger seat and upon be­ing asked if there was any­thing bet­ter in its class, he strug­gled to an­swer. The only SUV he could re­call as bet­ter to drive was the Lam­borgh­ini Urus, which leaves this au­thor think­ing the Cayenne S Coupe may even be one of the best driver’s SUVs full-stop.


ABOVE The Cayenne S Coupe is able to do things that a two-tonne SUV has no right do­ing so well

ABOVE In­side the Cayenne has an ap­pro­pri­ately pre­mium feel, with many of the shared Audi parts hid­den or well-in­te­grated

ABOVE LEFT Design de­tails on the Coupe are sat­is­fy­ing, and the over­all shape is pleas­ing to the eye in the me­tal

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