DÜSSELDORF, Germany – Leaving the car park in E-Power mode, there is no telling this is the leading Porsche SUV and the fastest Cayenne to date. The 100 kW electric motor is providing near silent propulsion as we navigate the congested roads around Düsseldorf. Even turning onto the motorway and increasing the speed to 120 km/h does not awaken the 4,0-litre V8 turbopetrol beast lying dormant under the bonnet.
Three diagonal lines on the signpost indicate an unrestricted stretch of the autobahn and my fingers instinctively spin the drive-mode selector dial to sport plus before pressing the accelerator to the floor. The Cayenne’s persona changes in a split second from nature-loving to fire-breathing and the V8’s bellow announces serious acceleration in no uncertain terms. With total system outputs of 500 kW and 900 N.m, the digital speedo is given a proper workout: 160, 220, 250 and eventually 275 km/h flash by before traffic conditions force sensibility to return. This is a seriously quick vehicle with a credible top speed of just under 300 km/h.
The Cayenne Coupé is based on the third generation of the Stuttgart-based brand’s SUV released in 2018 and employs the successful MLB platform used extensively throughout the Volkswagen Group. With the Coupé, Porsche is aiming for a niche within a niche, a trend started by another German firm based in Munich. Many other manufacturers are now following suit and a recent example is an extended family member in the form of the Audi Q8 that’s based on the Q7. Whereas the Audi is more focused on luxury and comfort, the Cayenne targets performance in line with Porsche’s values.
From the outside, Porsche’s designers have done a remarkable job of adding even more sportiness and attitude to the Cayenne. The Coupé roofline mimics that of the 911 and ends in a clean, elegant rear quarter with the now trademark horizontal brakelamp styling line. Rear headroom is not as pinched as you would expect (the rear bench is lower than in the standard version) and my 1,92-metre frame easily fitted during the sit-behind-myself test.
There is an air of quality inside the cabin and the traditional analogue rev counter is still in its rightful central position in front of the driver. The 12-inch touchscreen is crystal clear and touch-sensitive buttons on the piano-black centre console add sophistication. The glass panoramic roof is standard and floods the cabin with light.
The Cayenne features similar plug-in-hybrid technology as found in the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. This means the 100 kW electric motor is housed between the engine and eight-speed transmission. A 14 kWh battery pack is enough for 40 km of all-electric motoring up to a speed of 135 km/h. Charging times range from 2,4 hours with a three-phase connection (7,2 kW) to around six hours employing a standard domestic wall socket (2,2 kW).
It offers several driving modes including Hybrid to optimise the balance between electric and petrol power, or E-Power for all-electric motoring. In this mode, the accelerator offers a notch in the travel to denote the maximum acceleration under electric power before the internal-combustion engine kicks in. Claimed fuel consumption on the conservative NEDC procedure is 3,9 L/100 km and 19,6 kWh/100 km electricity. While having fun on the autobahn, that figure understandably jumped to 17,0 L/100 km.
In terms of styling and performance, Porsche has created the most impressive Cayenne to date. It offers blistering straight-line performance and more dynamic appeal than an SUV has the right to (aided by 48 V roll-bar stabilisation). Combine that with plug-in hybrid efficiency and you truly have one vehicle that can do it all. The only potential stumbling block is whether a re-mortgage option is available on my house.