by Karl Furlong
It's tough at the top. Although the Porsche Cayenne range has been the dynamic benchmark for performance SUVs for years, the competition keeps getting tougher. Now, the 2021 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe - with its less practical cabin but more stylish sloping roofline - also needs to contend with the new Audi RS Q8 and Lamborghini Urus. Porsche is confident that the Cayenne Turbo Coupe still has what it takes to fend off tough rivals, though, because it hasn't introduced many changes this year. That means that a 541-horsepower twin-turbo V8 remains and can see this SUV annihilate the 0-60 mph run in only 3.7 seconds. At over $130,000, it's a very expensive privilege, but the Cayenne Turbo Coupe's agility remains astounding for such a heavy beast. It's also got a great cabin and looks the part. Rivals may be closer than ever before but judged purely as a performance SUV, the Cayenne Turbo Coupe might just hang onto its crown.
The regular Porsche Cayenne Coupe range (reviewed separately) has been bolstered by the addition of a GTS model this year, which means that the Cayenne Turbo Coupe is no longer the only V8 in the lineup. However, the Turbo remains the most powerful non-hybrid derivative and otherwise enters the 2021 model year without any major changes. This isn't a great surprise since the model is still a fairly fresh arrival on the market.
4.0-liter Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
Although nearly identical to the regular Cayenne from the front, the Cayenne Coupe has its own personality with its coupe-like roofline and sportier rear aspect. It's definitely the more fashionable choice between the two and, in Turbo specification, even more so. This model has 21-inch Cayenne Turbo alloy wheels, which partially conceal brake calipers painted in white. The Turbo Coupe comes standard with a fixed panoramic roof, an automatic rear hatch, a fixed upper wing, and LED lighting. The twin dual-pipe Turbo tailpipes in brushed stainless steel hint at the towering performance on offer.
The Cayenne Turbo Coupe has a length of 194.5 inches, a width of 86.4 inches including the side mirrors, a height of 65.1 inches, and a 114-inch wheelbase. Overall, the Turbo Coupe is very similar in size to the regular Cayenne Turbo - it is almost an inch lower, though. With a curb weight of 5,024 pounds, it weighs 32 pounds less than the Cayenne Turbo. If, for some bizarre reason, you do decide to head off-road with your Cayenne Turbo Coupe, you'll find a maximum wading depth of 20.8 inches and a ground clearance of up to 9.6 inches with the air suspension in its highest setting.
The Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe uses a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine producing 541 horsepower and 567 lb-ft of torque. It's paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission that directs power to all four wheels. The combination endows the Cayenne Turbo Coupe with epic acceleration - it storms off the line and pushes you firmly back in your seat, with 60 mph coming up in only 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 177 mph reached not too long after that. The V8 perhaps isn't as soulful as some older, naturally aspirated Porsche units, but it isn't entirely devoid of character, either. More importantly, it responds instantly to throttle inputs and the gearbox goes about its business without you even noticing. But as fast as the Porsche is, both BMW and Audi achieve the same 0-60 sprint time with the X6 M and the RS Q8, respectively, and for less money than the asking price of this Porsche. The Cayenne Turbo Coupe isn't all about straight-line speed, though, as it also has a good 7,700-pound maximum towing capacity.
Porsche doesn't seem to know how to engineer a second-rate chassis and it isn't about to start with one of its halo SUVs. The Cayenne Turbo Coupe isn't just wickedly quick, but it's got the handling and crisp responsiveness through the steering wheel to match the engine's power. While it isn't a 911, the Cayenne feels a lot lighter on its feet than its weight would lead you to believe. With power sent to all four wheels, there is plenty of grip to exploit before the limits of adhesion are breached. Feedback through the steering wheel prevents the Cayenne from feeling overly computerized, despite all the tech working hard to keep everything in check, but it still isn't the most involving of drives. The adaptive air suspension manages to provide a supple enough ride when cruising and the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system keeps body roll at bay. Rear-axle steering is a $1,620 option that improves maneuverability at low speeds, and traction can be enhanced by speccing the Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus system. With or without these extras, the powerful Cayenne Turbo Coupe is a joy to drive.
Although EPA ratings for the 2021 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe hadn't been released at the time of writing, we don't expect these to change from the 2020 model. That means that the most powerful non-hybrid Cayenne Coupe will return figures of 15/19/17 mpg city/highway/combined, which is heavy but not unexpected for a heavy vehicle with this much performance. With the 23.7-gallon tank filled up with premium gasoline, a range of just over 400 miles will be possible.
As standard, the Cayenne Turbo Coupe is equipped with a 2+2 seating concept. Instead of a traditional bench seat at the back, the rear seat is sculpted for two passengers and divided by a storage compartment. However, customers who want to seat five can equip the crossover with a 2+1 seating arrangement at no extra cost, which adds a narrower middle rear seat. All seats are upholstered in high-quality leather and the four major seating positions offer sufficient legroom and headroom. Porsche lowered the rear seats compared with the standard Cayenne to ensure that the sloping roof doesn't compromise the headroom too badly. Access to all seats is easy enough, although the sloping roof does require rear-seat passengers to stoop down a bit when entering or exiting.
Compared with a sedan, the Cayenne Turbo Coupe's trunk is spacious and measures 21.1 cubic feet, easily swallowing up large suitcases or a set of golf clubs. However, the BMW X6 has a bigger trunk and so does the regular Cayenne Turbo. Fortunately, larger items can be accommodated by folding down the 40/20/40-split rear seats, which frees up a total of 53.4 cubes. Again, this is short of competitors like the Audi RS Q8, which has a total of 60.7 cubes with the rear seats folded. In the cabin, small items can be stowed in the large door pockets or the glove box, which isn't the biggest. The center console storage bin is more useful, though, as are the four cupholders.
Porsche often isn't generous with standard features, but the Cayenne Turbo Coupe fairs a bit better due to its positioning in the range. Outside, it has full LED lighting, a fixed panoramic roof, and an automatic rear hatch. The cabin has dual-zone automatic climate control and 18-way power-adjustable front seats with memory settings. Both the front and rear seats are heated. Porsche's standard driver aids pale in comparison to many rivals, though. A head-up display, a surround-view camera, lane change assist, and adaptive cruise control are all optional features. A few essentials don't cost extra, though, including a standard reversing camera, front/rear ParkAssist, and cruise control. Other luxuries that can be included at an extra cost are soft-close doors, comfort access, ambient lighting, and ventilated seats.
Porsche's latest interiors feel as high-tech and modern as anything else on the market. Much of this comes down to the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system which, in this Cayenne Turbo Coupe, features a beautiful 12.3-inch high-definition central touchscreen. Below this screen are several touch-sensitive controls and, ahead of the driver, twin digital displays. Owners coming from an older model might be overwhelmed at first, but they'll have no complaints about how quickly the touchscreen responds to inputs. Standard features include navigation, Bluetooth, USB, and auxiliary inputs, and wireless Apple CarPlay. Porsche is, however, one of the last premium brands to still not offer Android Auto. Also part of the standard setup is both HD Radio and SiriusXM satellite radio with a three-month trial. The standard sound system is a Bose unit with 14 speakers, although this can be upgraded to a 21-speaker Burmester 3D system. Wireless device charging is another option, as is a rear-seat entertainment system with twin ten-inch screens.
The Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe is off to a good start in its young life, with J.D. Power rating last year's model at 84 out of 100. That being said, the 2020 model was recalled by the NHTSA for an issue whereby there was no visual warning of brake pad wear. In another recall, some Cayenne models were affected by leaking transmission fluid, while the Cayenne Turbo Coupe was recalled specifically for a leaking fuel line connector. In case the Cayenne Turbo Coupe runs into any trouble, it's covered by Porsche's four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty, which also packs in 24-hour roadside assistance. There is also a standard four-year/50,000-mile limited paint warranty and a corrosion warranty for 12 years, regardless of miles covered.
The Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe, like all other Cayennes, has yet to undergo crash-testing by local agencies. We expect it to meet current safety standards, though. Porsche hasn't skimped on the airbag count, with a total of ten airbags protecting occupants including knee airbags for the driver and front passenger, as well as front/rear side airbags. The Cayenne also has tire pressure monitoring, a reversing camera, front/rear ParkAssist, Porsche Traction Management, and Porsche Surface Coated Brakes (PSCB), which doesn't rust and improves stopping times. Available driver aids encompass night vision, lane keep assist, lane change assist, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, and a surround-view camera system.
The Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe is the perfect choice for shoppers who would have liked a 911 Turbo but simply need the space that can't be found in a two-door coupe. It may not be as dynamically talented as a 911, but it's as good as it gets for a 5,000-pound SUV with up to five seats and a reasonably-sized trunk. The turbocharged V8 engine is immensely powerful and easily overcomes the Turbo Coupe's weight, and the superb chassis mixes sharp, flat cornering with a comfortable ride. All that being said, it's hard to ignore the cheaper and equally quick BMW X6 M or Audi RS Q8. The new Cayenne GTS Coupe also has V8 power and costs $20,000 less, money that could go towards equipping the Cayenne to a level more befitting of its status as a high-performance luxury SUV. But if money is no object, the Cayenne Turbo Coupe is about as much fun as you can have in a crossover.
The 2021 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe has a starting MSRP of $131,900, which amounts to an increase of $1,800 over last year's model. This price excludes tax, licensing, registration, and a delivery/handling fee of $1,350. The Cayenne's direct rivals are all cheaper, with the new Audi RS Q8 starting at $114,500 and the BMW X6 M in full-fat Competition guise carrying a price tag of $117,600 as of 2020.
The Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe is a standalone performance variant that sits at the top of the non-hybrid Cayenne Coupe range. However, since Porsche has left some essential items on the options list, we expect that few Cayenne Turbo Coupes will be sold in its base specification. If it were up to us, we'd spec our Cayenne Turbo Coupe in Moonlight Blue with the intricate but aggressive 22-inch RS Spyder Design wheels. We'd also add the $6,250 Assistance Package which includes a head-up display and adaptive cruise control. The next box we'd tick is for the $3,750 Premium Package Plus which equips four-zone climate control, ventilated front seats, ambient lighting, and more. The final price including destination comes to a jaw-dropping $145,630, but it's easy to equip this Cayenne Turbo Coupe to $200,000 with the sheer extent of upgrades offered by Porsche.
Audi's new RS Q8 is its most focused performance SUV yet. Its 591-horsepower V8 engine is even more powerful than the Cayenne's unit, although both will hit 60 mph in the same time of 3.7 seconds as the Audi is heavier by over 400 lbs. Fans of each brand will prefer one over the other, but it must be said that the Audi looks like the more aggressive and confident of the two stylistically. And at over $15,000 cheaper, the RS Q8 is not only less expensive, but better equipped too. The Audi gets standard features like a 360-degree camera system, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic assist, four-zone climate control, and ventilated front seats, which are all optional on the Porsche. We expect the Audi to hold its own from behind the wheel, too. All things considered, the Audi may just have enough in its arsenal to edge - if not embarrass - the mighty Porsche.
Like the Audi, the BMW X6 M is at the top of its game and generates more power than the Porsche. In Competition guise, the X6 M's 4.4-liter V8 cranks out 617 horsepower but is around 350 lbs heavier than the Cayenne Turbo Coupe, so has an identical claimed 3.7-second sprint time to 60 mph. With its xDrive all-wheel-drive system, the X6 M can be hustled at high speeds but the lighter Cayenne has more feel through its major controls. Both are immensely accomplished performance SUVs, though. The BMW's cabin is immaculately assembled, and it has more equipment as standard, such as blind-spot detection and lane departure warning. If you go for the negligibly slower X6 M (3.8 seconds to 60), it comes at a saving of around $23,300 over the Porsche. This is a really tough call, and we wouldn't blame you if you went with either the better-equipped and flashier X6 M, or the more precise but expensive Cayenne Turbo Coupe.
Check out some informative Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe video reviews below.