Sunday Drive by Hormazd Sorabjee: Coup(e) de Cayenne
The rise of the SUV is a phenomenon that has gripped the car world for several years now. Every carmaker and their uncle have several SUVs in their line-up and it’s not hard to understand why. The SUV is the golden goose for auto companies as customers buy a lot of them, but more importantly, pay a lot for them which translates into juicy profits no company wants to let go off. In fact, to milk the golden goose further, car brands are inventing new interpretations of SUVs and this has led to another phenomenon, the SUV coupé.
Tapering the roof of an existing SUV to give it a coupé-like look would seem like a pointless exercise, but that’s missing the point. Customers seem to love this rather awkward body style, which force fits a sleek coupé silhouette on a high-riding SUV.
It was BMW that pioneered the SUV coupé category with the X6 and after seeing its success, arch rival Mercedes hurriedly joined the bandwagon with the GLE Coupé. Porsche was a bit late to the party but it’s finally here with the Cayenne Coupé. It sticks to the formula, which is to take a regular Cayenne and lower the roof by around 20mm for a more coupé-like look. And for this privilege, you have to fork out ₹1.31 crore, which is a neat ₹11 lakh more than the regular Cayenne.
Now you know why car companies are tripping over themselves to jump into the SUV Coupé category. The question is should you be spending the extra premium or should you stick to the regular Cayenne?
On the road
If style is your thing, then there’s no denying the Coupé looks much sportier than the standard Cayenne. The upright profile gives way to a much sleeker look, which fits well with this SUV’s personality. Under the new roof, the Cayenne Coupé is much the same as the standard model and you don’t have to worry too much about the lowered roof eating into headroom.
The rear seats have been dropped by around 30mm to compensate. But you don’t buy this car for the rear seats, you buy it for the driving experience a Porsche gives.
The first thing you notice is how good the ride is. Sure, the air suspension has an underlying layer of firmness, but it rounds off sharp edges and bumps and allows the Cayenne Coupé to pass off as an everyday car. But again, it’s not the city you should buy a Cayenne for, but a nice road which will allow you to exploit the phenomenal dynamics only a Porsche can deliver.
The experience starts with the steering, which is almost telepathic, responding with delicious precision to the tiniest of movements at the wheel. The grip around corners is phenomenal and the way the Cayenne Coupé switches directions makes it feel much, much lighter than its considerable 2.1 ton weight. The brakes too are very effective, but a bit too sharp for my liking and I would have preferred a more progressive pedal feel.
I would have also proffered a stronger engine to further exploit the Coupé’s brilliant handling. Unfortunately, the Cayenne Coupé in India is (for now) only available with the base 3-litre single-turbo V6 motor, which develops a modest 340hp. That’s still good enough to propel you from 0-100 kph in six seconds flat, but the truth is you are left wanting for a stronger punch, the bigger rush of power you get in higher variants. You can’t even opt for the one-higher 430 hp ‘S’ variant and that’s a shame.
But if you are looking for a sexy-looking luxury SUV that drives brilliantly, the Cayenne Coupé ticks most of the boxes. Apart from the looks and driving dynamics, it has a high-quality cabin and the 12.3-inch screen with its ‘haptic’ touch response still stands out as something special. Driving a Porsche is always special no matter which one it is.
The views expressed by the columnist are personal
From HT Brunch, October 04, 2020
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