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Porsche Cayenne 2020 review: Coupe Turbo S E-Hybrid

The Turbo S E-Hybrid is an absolute beast in a straight line.
EXPERT RATING
7.8
The Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid is a contradiction on paper, but does that mean it isn't an enthralling sports car on stilts in reality?

Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe is a mouthful to say aloud, but what's in a name?

Well, we are all familiar with the Cayenne by now, and Porsche history indicates the Turbo S badge is saved for the highest-performing variant in the range, so there's that.

But this is also an E-Hybrid, which means it's a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) that can run on petrol and electric power, with the advantage of doing so, of course, being vastly superior fuel economy.

And it's also a Coupe, which is now no more than a marketing term for a presumably more stylish, but less practical, SUV.

So, is the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid having an identity crisis? We attended its local launch to find out.

Porsche Cayenne 2020: Turbo S E-Hybrid
Safety rating
Engine Type4.0L turbo
Fuel TypeHybrid with Premium Unleaded
Fuel Efficiency4.4L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$292,800

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

Porsche finally gave into the 'coupe' SUV craze when it conceived the Cayenne Coupe, which is based on the third-generation Cayenne wagon.

The Coupe and its wagon counterpart are actually quite different, only sharing their bonnets, front fenders and front doors externally.

Indeed, the Coupe has a more steeply angled windscreen (20mm lower at the front edge), the obligatory sloping roofline, redesigned rear doors and chunkier rear fenders.

  • It's the rear end where the differences between the Coupe and wagon are most apparent, courtesy of a swoopier tailgate. It's the rear end where the differences between the Coupe and wagon are most apparent, courtesy of a swoopier tailgate.
  • Porsche finally gave into the 'coupe' SUV craze when it conceived the Cayenne Coupe, which is based on the third-generation Cayenne wagon. Porsche finally gave into the 'coupe' SUV craze when it conceived the Cayenne Coupe, which is based on the third-generation Cayenne wagon.

However, it's the rear end where the differences between the Coupe and wagon are most apparent, courtesy of a swoopier tailgate.

We'd argue the Coupe's best angle is out back thanks to its 18mm increase in track width, and its delicious adaptive boot spoiler that extends up to 135mm when driving faster than 90km/h.

Of course, the E-Hybrid version goes a step further with 'Acid Green' highlights on its badging and brake callipers, which are very cool but certainly not to everyone's taste.

Inside, the Coupe is a familiar affair, sharing its cockpit with the wagon. Inside, the Coupe is a familiar affair, sharing its cockpit with the wagon.

Inside, the Coupe is a familiar affair, sharing its cockpit with the wagon. And yes, the signature grab handles on the centre console carry over.

Conversely, the second row is a massive departure from the norm, with two bucket seats fitted in the Coupe instead of the usual three-seat bench from the wagon, although the latter can be optioned for no extra cost.

To bathe occupants in natural light, a massive fixed panoramic glass roof is standard, although keener drivers might opt for $20,270 'Lightweight Sport' package that substitutes it for a carbon-fibre panel and adds other go-fast bits.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

At 4939mm long, 1989mm wide and 1653mm tall, there's no doubting the Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe is a large SUV, which is a good thing for its occupants.

Those up front are treated to plenty of space, divided by a wide centre console to really amplify that cockpit feel.

There are plenty of storage options, too, with a pair of cupholders located in the middle of the centre console, while a small tray resides in front, perfect for the key fob or some coins.

Behind is a lidded storage bin with a pair of USB-C ports located inside. Yep, there's no USB-A ports to be seen here, so make sure you have a newer cable, or purchase an adaptor if need be – this is clearly a Porsche with two feet (or four tyres) firmly positioned in the future.

The second row is a massive departure from the norm, with two bucket seats fitted in the Coupe instead of the usual three-seat bench from the wagon. The second row is a massive departure from the norm, with two bucket seats fitted in the Coupe instead of the usual three-seat bench from the wagon.

Two 12V power outlets can also be found up front alongside a decently sized glove box and big door bins that easily accommodate large bottles.

Porsche claims that by lowering the Coupe's rear seats by 30mm, it offers the same amount of headroom as the wagon. With the driver's seat set for my 184cm height, though, there was less than an inch between my scone and the roof, but that's not too bad for this niche.

There's no such compromise to legroom, however, as I had more than three inches of it to play with alongside an adjustable back rest, making finding the perfect position for longer journeys much easier.

Two cupholders are hidden in the fold-down centre armrest, while map pockets are naturally located on the back of the front seats.

Rear occupants are also treated to their own climate controls and therefore air vents, while two more USB-C ports are found at the rear of the centre console.

This layout optimises packaging and improves throttle response by shortening the length of the exhaust plumbing to the turbochargers. This layout optimises packaging and improves throttle response by shortening the length of the exhaust plumbing to the turbochargers.

Despite Porsche's trickery in the second row, it wasn't able to pull a rabbit out of a hat in the boot, where the Coupe's stylish tailgate has resulted in a 145L reduction in cargo capacity over the wagon (when comparing their Turbo S E-Hybrid forms).

That said, a family friendly 500L is still on offer, even with the electric motor, battery and other componentry in tow. Drop the 40/20/40 split-fold second row and there's 1440L.

Tie-down anchors are located at each corner of the boot floor. There's also a 12V power outlet but no spare wheel for the Turbo S E-Hybrid. Instead, you get tyre sealant and an electric air pump.

Maximum braked towing capacity is 3000kg, while unbraked is 750kg. Porsche's Trailer Stability Management system is standard.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

Starting from $292,700 plus on-road costs, this Turbo S E-Hybrid isn't cheap, but you didn't expect it to be, did you?

And when you're spending this much, $4700 is a small price to pay for an extra dose of style the Coupe brings over the wagon.

Beyond the safety equipment that we'll cover three sections from now, the Turbo S E-Hybrid comes standard with the 'Sport Chrono' package, 22-inch alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, LED daytime running lights and tail-lights, rain-sensing wipers, rear privacy glass and a power-operated tailgate.

Starting from $292,700 plus on-road costs, this Turbo S E-Hybrid isn’t cheap, but you didn’t expect it to be, did you? Starting from $292,700 plus on-road costs, this Turbo S E-Hybrid isn’t cheap, but you didn’t expect it to be, did you?

Inside, a 12.3-inch touchscreen multimedia system, satellite navigation with live traffic, wireless Apple CarPlay support (Android Auto is not available), DAB+ digital radio, a 710W Bose sound system with 14 speakers, dual multi-function displays, keyless entry and start, 18-way power-adjustable front sports seats with heating, a sports steering wheel with paddle-shifters and heating, heated rear seats, four-zone climate control, ambient lighting, full leather upholstery, gloss-black trim and stainless-steel pedals and scuff plates feature.

Considering how much it costs, there are plenty of key features missing, with a head-up display ($3070) headlining the list of desirable but expensive options, which we've all come to expect from Porsche.

As is stands right now, the more or less Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe rules the roost until the new-generation Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe, BMW X6 M Competition and Audi RS Q8 arrive later this year.

It comes with a 12.3-inch touchscreen multimedia system. It comes with a 12.3-inch touchscreen multimedia system.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

If you thought the Turbo's 404kW/770Nm 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 was pretty neat, the Turbo S E-Hybrid has news for you: an additional 100kW/400Nm electric motor. Yep, petrol power is simply not enough for the Cayenne flagship.

The bent eight's twin-scroll counter-rotating turbochargers are located between the cylinder banks, otherwise known as the 'hot V' configuration.

This layout optimises packaging and improves throttle response by shortening the length of the exhaust plumbing to the turbochargers and the distance compressed air travels back to the intake side of the engine.

If you thought the Turbo’s 404kW/770Nm 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 was pretty neat, the Turbo S E-Hybrid has news for you: an additional 100kW/400Nm electric motor. If you thought the Turbo’s 404kW/770Nm 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 was pretty neat, the Turbo S E-Hybrid has news for you: an additional 100kW/400Nm electric motor.

Iron coating of the cylinder linings and a chrome nitrite finish on the piston rings are claimed to improve durability and reduce oil consumption by up to 50 per cent when compared to Porsche's previous 4.8-litre naturally aspirated V8.

Electric power is drawn from a 14.1kWh lithium-ion battery, which can be recharged in about six hours when using a domestic power socket.

The Turbo S E-Hybrid is mated to an eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission, with drive sent to all four wheels via a variable system built around an electronically variable, map-controlled, multi-plate clutch.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

Considering the performance on offer, the Turbo S E-Hybrid's claimed fuel consumption is staggering, at 4.4 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle test (ADR 81/02). This goes along with carbon dioxide emissions of just 100 grams per kilometre.

However, during its local launch, we averaged 11.1L/100km over 300km of driving heavily skewed towards highway stints and therefore not taking full advantage of the electric motor's efficiency in city areas.

Either way, the Turbo manages 12.3L/100km and 280g/km, or nearly triple those claimed figures. There's no doubting, then, that the Turbo S E-Hybrid is kinder to the hip pocket in the long run.

Considering the performance on offer, the Turbo S E-Hybrid’s claimed fuel consumption is staggering. Considering the performance on offer, the Turbo S E-Hybrid’s claimed fuel consumption is staggering.

The latter also has the option of electric-only driving, with its claimed zero-emissions range set at 40km. Due to our extensive highway driving at the local launch, we weren't able to assess how it stacks up in the real world.

The minimum fuel requirement for the Turbo S E-Hybrid is 95 RON premium unleaded, and you'll need 75 litres of it to fill its tank.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

The entire Cayenne Coupe range – and therefore the Turbo S E-Hybrid – hasn't been assessed by ANCAP or its European counterpart, Euro NCAP.

Standard features include anti-skid brakes (ABS), brake assist (BA), electronic stability and traction controls, forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, surround-view cameras and front and rear parking sensors.

It also comes with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), but this version only slows the vehicle down and doesn't bring it to a complete stop.

If you want such functionality, you'll have to tick the $3570 box for adaptive cruise control, which should be standard at this price point, with the same true of lane-keep assist, which costs $1220.

Eight airbags (dual front, front side and knee up front, and dual curtain for the rear) are fitted if the unfortunate occasion arises.

An active bonnet helps to reduce pedestrian injuries, while there are two top tether points and ISOFIX anchors for child seats and/or baby capsules in the second row.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Like all Porsche models sold in Australia, the Turbo S E-Hybrid comes with a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, which like that of Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, lags behind the mainstream players, the majority of which offer five or more years of coverage.

That said, a 12-year/unlimited-kilometre rust warranty is also bundled in, while the Turbo S E-Hybrid goes a step further with eight years or 160,000km of coverage for its battery.

Service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first. Capped-price servicing isn't available, with Porsche dealers determining how much each visit costs.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

Make no mistake, the Turbo S E-Hybrid is an absolute weapon in a straight line.

Porsche claims it sprints from a standstill to 100km/h in a scarcely believable 3.8 seconds. We say scarcely believable because the Turbo S E-Hybrid feels much quicker than that in reality due to the sheer violence of its initial shove.

Either way, it's only a tenth of a second quicker than the Turbo on paper, which hardly makes sense given its 96kW/130Nm advantage.

Well, it all comes down to weight; the Turbo S E-Hybrid is 335kg porkier (sorry, we had to) than the Turbo, but more on that later.

The instant torque of the electric motor is key to this visceral experience, of course, but it's certainly helped along by the hard-hitting 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. Well, we're understating it a little bit.

The instant torque of the electric motor is key to this visceral experience, of course, but it’s certainly helped along by the hard-hitting 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. The instant torque of the electric motor is key to this visceral experience, of course, but it’s certainly helped along by the hard-hitting 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8.

Either way, full-attack mode is only a push of the steering wheel's 'Sport Response' button away, with 20 seconds of savage acceleration on hand to help overtaking manoeuvres and the like.

Given how devastating the performance is, you'd be hoping to wash away speed with ease. Well, how does a set of carbon-ceramic brake discs sound? Not good enough? Okay, we'll raise you 10-piston callipers up front and four-pot stoppers at the rear.

It goes without saying that they're more than up to the task, and brake pedal feel is predictably good... unless you are driving around town with electric power only, at which point it instantly becomes wooden.

Inconsistency here is a hallmark of PHEVs, partly due to their regenerative braking systems, which use kinetic energy to gently recharge the battery using while on the move.

Despite being somewhat eco-friendly, the Turbo S E-Hybrid has one hell of a soundtrack to accompany its speed, with it easily confused with gunfire when on the overrun.

Granted our test vehicle was fitted with the optional sports exhaust system, but it still sounded phenomenal, so it's a must-have, no matter the cost.

Now it's time for a fun fact: the Cayenne takes its Turbo S E-Hybrid powertrain from the Panamera, but it makes one significant change...

While both models feature an eight-speed automatic transmission, the former goes for a torque-converter unit instead of the latter's dual-clutch set-up.

This is big news as smoother gear shifts result, particularly at low speed, all while not sacrificing that much in the way of quickness when driving with intent. It's so good, in fact, you hardly notice it doing its thing.

It comes with 22-inch alloy wheels. It comes with 22-inch alloy wheels.

Sporting intent or not, the Turbo S E-Hybrid still gets three-chamber air suspension with adaptive dampers as standard, which sounds like an amazing combination on paper.

In reality, it rides really well, particularly at speed, but a damper (pun intended) is put on this suppleness by its 22-inch alloy wheels, which are wrapped in low-profile tyres and manage to catch sharper road edges with ease, even in the comfiest setting.

Adjustment of these suspension settings, and that of the engine and transmission, are enabled by the Sport Chrono package's drive mode selector, which cycles through the obligatory Normal, Sport, Sport+ and Individual options.

The Turbo S E-Hybrid does, however, go one step further with E-Power and three hybrid modes: Hybrid Auto gives you the best of both worlds, while E-Hold maintains the battery's current level of charge, and E-Charge does a brilliant job of recharging it while on the move – at the cost of fuel consumption, of course.

Handling-wise, the Turbo S E-Hybrid is both a revelation and a relative disappointment. As we alluded to earlier, it comes with a significant weight penalty – one that cannot be ignored when attacking the twisty stuff.

Yes, the adaptive dampers and active anti-roll bars do a brilliant job of managing body roll (particularly the latter), but there's no denying 2535kg.

By comparison, prior experience shows the Turbo is much lighter on its feet, although it is a heavy proposition in its own right.

Make no mistake, the Turbo S E-Hybrid is an absolute weapon in a straight line. Make no mistake, the Turbo S E-Hybrid is an absolute weapon in a straight line.

Either way, the variable all-wheel-drive system on hand has torque vectoring, helping to provide next-level grip. Push hard into a bend and it simply won't budge, and the tyres barely make a whimper – it's impressive... most impressive.

And as we all know, Porsche loves to deliver a steering masterclass from time to time, and the Turbo S E-Hybrid is its latest instalment.

Yes, the power steering is electro-mechanical, but that doesn't mean its without feel. This is also a variable-ratio set-up, which means its lighter and easily manoeuvrable at low speeds and heavier and very stable at high speeds.

Our test vehicle was also fitted with rear-axle steering, a $4300 option, which makes for even sharper turn-in when carving up corners, or a smaller turning circle when navigating car parks and the like.

Verdict

There's no doubting that improvements to straight-line acceleration are always nice – and so is the option to go electric around town – but at the end of the day, the Turbo S E-Hybrid isn't worth the $39,100 premium it commands over the Turbo, which just so happens to be the better drive, anyway.

That said, the Turbo S-E Hybrid Coupe is currently in a league of its own. And contradiction or not, it also proves you can have you cake and eat it, too. So, if being the biggest and baddest means everything to you, there's only one logical choice in the Cayenne range...

Is the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe in a league of its own? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.

Pricing guides

$210,100
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$121,700
Highest Price
$298,500

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(base) 3.0L, PULP, 8 SP $121,700 2020 Porsche Cayenne 2020 (base) Pricing and Specs
E-Hybrid 3.0L, Hyb/PULP, 8 SP $141,800 2020 Porsche Cayenne 2020 E-Hybrid Pricing and Specs
GTS 4.0L, PULP $192,900 2020 Porsche Cayenne 2020 GTS Pricing and Specs
S 2.9L, PULP, 8 SP $172,900 2020 Porsche Cayenne 2020 S Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.8
Design8
Practicality8
Price and features7
Engine & trans9
Fuel consumption8
Safety7
Ownership7
Driving8
Justin Hilliard
Deputy News Editor

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