New Porsche Cayenne Coupe facelift prototype review

We drive an updated prototype version of the Porsche Cayenne Coupe SUV in 631bhp Ultra guise


In an era when even Porsche is going full steam ahead with its electric models, this pure-petrol range-topping version of the facelifted Cayenne could be the last of its kind. But on first impressions it’s a remarkable achievement that hits back at cars like the Lamborghini Urus and Aston Martin DBX as a driver-focused SUV that combines performance, handling and all the luxury, tech and refinement you want in an expensive but sporty SUV. 

The Lamborghini Urus hit Porsche hard. Not that sales of the Cayenne were terribly affected by the first SUV from Porsche’s Italian intra-VW Group sibling, but the pride of the engineers in Weissach suffered slightly. The Cayenne Turbo had always been the sportiest SUV, but with the 641bhp Urus the Cayenne was outgunned - and by a long way.

But now Porsche is hitting back, because in a few months the German brand will tame the raging bull with a spiced-up Cayenne ‘Ultra’ model, increasing the 4.0-litre twin turbo V8’s output up to 631bhp and 850Nm of torque – but not by adding an electric motor, but instead by fine tuning and remapping the engine to keep this car solely combustion-powered.

Compared with the outgoing Cayenne Turbo that is an additional 89bhp and 80Nm, bringing down the 0-62 time by roughly half a second and raising top speed from 178mph to 186mph. The Turbo S E-Hybrid might still have a bit more power and maintain its flagship status – at least when you add up the V8 and the E-Motor’s combined 671bhp output – but it can’t keep up with the new performance model when it comes to acceleration and top-speed.

The new high-performance Cayenne we’re driving here is therefore still the most driver-focused model in Porsche's updated large SUV line-up - reinforced by the fact it will only be offered in the sleeker Coupe body style - needing only an estimated 3.4 seconds to complete the 0-62mph sprint. 

Once we got behind the wheel of the prototype this much was clear to see, as Porsche’s improvements are even more impressive. The Cayenne’s chunky kerbweight seems hard to fathom once you touch the throttle.

The V8 bellows through its new titanium exhaust as the Cayenne takes off at an incredible rate for such a larger, luxurious off-roader. You really notice the extra performance compared with its predecessor, as the Cayenne’s thump is incredible, with the motor still offering excellent response to your throttle inputs.

We also had a chance to sample the car’s improved agility too, as Porsche didn’t spare anything and loaded this Cayenne with all of the dynamic features it had to offer.

The three-chamber air suspension is now 15 per cent stiffer, while the Cayenne sits 7mm lower than in the GTS, dynamic chassis control, torque vectoring and rear-axle steering help to improve the car’s agility and even on the tight infield section at the Hockenheim race track, the Turbo acquits itself well. 

Bespoke Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres wrapped around 22-inch alloy wheels help here too, with the Cayenne clinging on around the sharpest corners.

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To shed the serious speed the stronger engine will propel you to, the huge carbon-ceramic brake set-up has huge bite, even though the Porsche weighs 2.2 tonnes. 

Of course, an SUV like this will rarely be seen in a pit lane - and since the exhaust pipes mounted in the centre of the rear bumper prevent the installation of a tow bar, it won’t even be able to tow your favorite track car. 

But the new Cayenne variant is incredibly agile for an SUV and you might be surprised by just how much this is the case. The upgrades are palpable.

Despite this, though, and all of the technology available to make the car as agile and aggressive as possible when you want it, Porsche has maintained an impressive level of long-distance comfort.

The seats aren’t deep buckets despite the performance potential but offer a balance of comfort and support, while the pretty forgiving suspension set-up in the default driving mode and some GT-like luxury with added Alcantara upholstery inside means the Cayenne has a broad spread of ability. 

Porsche has also worked hard to reduce weight too. Offered exclusively in Cayenne Coupe form, the new performance model comes as a four-seater only and is fitted with the carbon roof as a standard, saving 22kg alone. 

Another 18kg is saved with the titanium exhaust and a further 22kg with the carbon-ceramic brakes: “The result is exactly the same weight as the Turbo – just with more technology”, an engineer tells us.

The styling clearly reflects the extra performance too, with the camouflage of our test car only lightly covering the squarer light units, larger air intake in the revised front bumper and the deployable spoiler at the rear. It seems like this new ultra-high performance Cayenne model will have the looks to back up its ability.

But that’s one of the intriguing things about this car - Porsche hasn’t yet given it a name, although it could wear the moniker ‘Turbo GT’. Porsche has also trademarked the GT5 tag.

Whatever it will be called, we’re told it will sit above the Turbo S E-Hybrid when it comes to price, so available exclusively in Coupe form £170,000 could be possible when it goes on sale later this year.

Model: Porsche Cayenne Coupe Ultra
Price:  £170,000 (est.)
Engine:  4.0-litre twin-turbo V8
Power/torque:  631bhp/850Nm
Transmission:  Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
0-62mph:  3.4 seconds (est.)
Top speed:  186mph
Economy: TBC
On sale:  Late 2021

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