Can the originator of the segment beat the newcomer?
Back in 2008, BMW created a new vehicle segment called the sports activity coup (SAC), otherwise known as the SUV Coupe, with the X6. Although the segment seemed like a silly idea at the time (and still does even today), it has caught on with consumers and the X6 now faces some stiff competition.
BMW has just announced the redesigned X6 for the 2020 model year, which will enter the battle against the Audi Q8 and the upcoming Mercedes GLE Coupe replacement. But before the X6 was revealed, Porsche announced its first entry into the segment with the 2020 Cayenne Coupe. Can the X6 keep its title as the best SUV Coupe, or will the Cayenne Coupe steal its thunder?
SUV Coupes are a brilliant idea because it gives automaker the ability to charge more for an SUV with less practicality and more "style." BMW launched the X6 in three trim levels. The base sDrive40i model starts at $64,300, the all-wheel-drive xDrive40i models costs $66,600, and the range-topping M50i costs from $85,650.
Porsche is also offering the Cayenne in three trim levels including the base Coupe for $75,300, the S Coupe for $88,600, and the Turbo Coupe for $130,100. Both vehicles cost significantly more than their standard counterparts, the X5 and Cayenne, but the X6 holds a major advantage in terms of pricing. And once those infamous Porsche options kick in, the BMW's price advantage will only widen.
BMW may have Porsche beat on price but at least for now, the Cayenne Coupe tops the X6 in performance. Porsche currently offers three engines to go along with its three trim levels. The base engine is a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 producing 335 horsepower while S models receive a smaller 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 pumping out 434 hp. 0-60 mph in the base model takes 5.7 seconds but drops to 4.7 seconds in the S trim. Stepping up to the Turbo brings a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 producing 541 hp resulting in a 0-60 mph sprint of 3.7 seconds.
On the low end of the scale, BMW has Porsche matched with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six developing an identical 335 hp going to RWD or AWD. 0-60 mph takes 5.2 seconds or 5.3 with AWD, beating the base Cayenne Coupe. There is no X6 trim to directly compete with the Cayenne S Coupe but the M50i trim splits the difference between the S and the Turbo using a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 producing 523 hp, resulting in a 0-60 mph time of 4.1 seconds. Porsche holds the performance advantage now but the upcoming X6 M and Cayenne Turbo S could move the scales.
Styling is a major reason why someone would choose an X6 or Cayenne Coupe over their standard SUV counterparts but we have never been huge fans of the SUV Coupe aesthetic. Neither car is particularly beautiful to our eyes and we'd prefer to have an actual two-door coupe or the standard Cayenne or X5 over either of these. This decision is highly subjective but we'd give a slight edge to Porsche because the Cayenne Coupe almost looks like a normal SUV from some angles.
Both of these SUVs carry high starting prices and both are equipped with interiors reflective of that fact. BMW has taken a very sporty yet elegant approach using carbon fiber, quilted leather, LED mood lighting, and even a shifter made of crystal. Porsche's cabin is more simplistic, placing more of an emphasis on driving enjoyment. The houndstooth seating option looks fantastic but the X6's interior feels more upscale as a whole.
Porsche has come a long way with interior technology but BMW is among the class-leaders in infotainment. The X6 features wireless Apple CarPlay (the Cayenne Coupe requires a cord) and BMW's iDrive feels more advanced than Porsche's PCM. In addition to having a touchscreen, iDrive can also be controlled via a rotating knob or through voice command. BMW also includes luxury features like massaging seats and a massive suite of active safety features.
Both of these SUV coupes are less practical than their standard counterparts, but which one is the most practical? BMW says the X6 offers 580 liters of storage with the rear seats up or 1,530 liters with the seats folded, which translates to 20.5 and 54 cubic feet. Since the Cayenne has a taller rear end, it offers a bit more storage with 22 cubic feet (seats up) or 54.3 cubic feet (seats down). There really isn't a major difference in terms of carrying capacity and the X5 and Cayenne are both better suited to hauling large items.
We may not be totally on board with the SUV Coupe craze but that probably won't stop shoppers from looking at the new BMW X6 and Porsche Cayenne Coupe. Both vehicles benefit from the latest improvements of their respective base SUVs while offering more coupe-like rooflines for buyers who enjoy this design aesthetic. The X6 seems like the more luxurious SUV but the Cayenne will likely be more fun to drive (albeit at a higher price). It will be interesting to see how the X6 M and Cayenne Turbo S Coupe eventually turn the tides but these two SUVs appear to be very evenly matched.