Moving Up the Scoville Scale

Porsche announces a new spicier Cayenne. Is less more?

(c) Autocar

Amongst the delicacies on offer at the recent Geneva motor show was the debut of Porsche’s latest derivation of the eternal Nunelfer, a revision apparently so accomplished, our German Palexpo explorer was moved to observe; “Changes [to the Porsche 992] are actually minuscule, but they’re all so superbly executed that this must rank, from an aesthetic perspective as one of the finest 911s of them all.

No rational being in the history of mankind has ever been moved to speak with such warmth regarding Zuffenhausen’s full-sized SUV, now in its third distinct iteration. The Cayenne’s creative trajectory has been one which has taken the model line from the deepest well of ugliness to the position where it currently resides, somewhere approximately South-West of just about okay.

Less offensive to the eye it may now be, but amongst many automotive aficionados, the Cayenne will live forever in infamy, not simply for the original’s cack-handed visuals, but for the fact that it largely kick-started the inane rush into upmarket pseudo-off roaders which now represents every carmaker’s true North, in product strategy terms at least.

Having for reasons best known to themselves held its announcement back from Geneva – perhaps to avoid stepping on the 911’s toes, Porsche saw fit to announce what they term the Cayenne Coupé – an elided variant of the existing vehicle. While clearly heavily based upon the existing more square-rigged version, the so-called coupé features all-new sheetmetal (and glazing) above the beltline.

From the windscreen pillars (now more steeply raked) through the revised DLO treatment, to the more flowing rear three quarters, the Cayenne has (visually at least) been brought into line with the rest of the Porsche range, now more closely resembling a jacked up version of its Panamera sibling.

Indeed, so much does the new roofline appear to suggest itself that to these eyes it renders the existing model somewhat superfluous – or at least it would do were it not for the fact that by appending the much abused Coupé nomenclature to its rump, Porsche’s product strategists can justify a healthy price premium – from £62 to £105 big ones, before one gets irredeemably lost in the tangled mangroves of the options list.

Joining the likes of Audi’s butch Q8 and Lamborghini’s even more steroidal Urus, not to mention the more ‘rakish’ looking versions of Mercedes and BMW’s larger SUV ranges, Porsche enters a modest, but growing market for sportier-looking SUVs. But perhaps more interesting than the car itself is the question of whether the “more progressive, athletic and emotional,” Cayenne Coupé will prove more of a hit with buyers and whether Zuffenhausen can justify the cost of both versions in the longer-term?

Porsche’s visual restraint amid a sea of hyped-up and overtly aggressive fare from the banks of the Mittelandkanal, from Ingolstadt and from Sant ‘Agata Bolognese has been notable and to many commentators, quite laudable. But a Cayenne Coupé is still a Cayenne with all the stylistic (and metaphorical) baggage (145 litres less capacity than the regular version by the way) that it brings.

So while it’s regrettable that Michael Mauer’s team have been tasked to create this ignoble confection, it probably moves a few degrees closer in visual terms to what one would imagine a Porsche SUV to resemble, while shifting the Cayenne a millimetre or two closer towards visual acceptability.

And while we can register our continued dismay that it’s necessary for Zuffenhausen to produce such vehicles at all (and the jury is still very much out on the necessity front) the damning with faint praise summation from here is that it could probably have been a good deal worse.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Founding Editor. Content Provider.

11 thoughts on “Moving Up the Scoville Scale”

  1. Is it wrong of me to admit that I quite like the new Cayenne Coupé? I think it’s the “least worst” of this type of vehicle by some margin. The front end is still problematic: trying to combine Porsche 911/Boxster design cues with that cliff face was always destined to fail and those big black rectangular holes are very dissonant elements on an otherwise smooth and flowing shape. That said, the side profile and rear views are nice and that orange colour is epic!

    When my back and hips finally make entry and exit too painful, my Boxster may have to give way to something taller and a Macan Coupé (assuming one is on the way) in that colour might fit the bill.

    1. It looks “in pain™” too (especially from rear 3/4). Success guarenteed.

    1. Hi,

      I like it too. What I find surprising is that there seems to be no mention of the ‘Coupé’ name anywhere on the outside ( inside even ?). For the uninitiated this might be confusing as they’d think this is just the regular Cayenne perhaps ?

  2. The humongous black, lacquered wheel arches of the new Peugeot 208 don’t seem so odd now that I realise they’re perhaps part of a broader trend towards oversized arches. This Cayenne Coupé has them I think, but before it and the 208 there was the Porsche Mission E Cross Turismo concept and since then, there’s been the new Mazda C30 and a few other examples.

  3. If they’d launched this as the new Cayenne without the coupé moniker attached, I’d have said that it makes (more sense – after all, shouldn’t a Porsche SUV be coupé like? It also has more of a family look with the Macam. In that way, the standard Cayenne is now the odd one out.

  4. Correct me if I’m wrong, but VW is basically selling five different versions of the same car? Plus att couple of variations of some of the versions?

    Audi Q7/Q8
    Bentley Bentayga
    Lamborghini Urus
    Porsche Cayenne/Coupe
    Volkswagen Touareg

    To me, they look all the same, because it’s obvious looking at any of them they all share basic hardpoints. And the profit must be enormous, because the building cost is pretty much all the same between them. VW is the new GM, with a car for every purse and any purpose. Is it only me that thinks this approach is cynic to the absurd? The Urus isn’t a Lamborghini, fer cryin’ out loud. The Bentayga ain’t a Bentley. They are all Volkswagens…

    “Quayle: Three times that I’ve had this question—and I will try to answer it again for you, as clearly as I can, because the question you’re asking is, “What kind of qualifications does Dan Quayle have to be president,” “What kind of qualifications do I have,” and “What would I do in this kind of a situation?” And what would I do in this situation? … I have far more experience than many others that sought the office of vice president of this country. I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency. I will be prepared to deal with the people in the Bush administration, if that unfortunate event would ever occur.

    Judy Woodruff: Senator Bentsen?

    Bentsen: Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy. “

  5. I don’t like the Cayenne Coupé at all.

    I never liked SUVs, I never liked what they stood for and remember my disgust when Porsche brought the first Cayenne to market. Since then, I suppose I have gotten used to them and reluctantly accepted their popularity.

    But the step from the SUV to the “SUV coupé” just makes the whole thing extra hard to bear. The basic shape of the SUV is at least based on a vehicle category that deservedly has its place in the automotive universe: the off-roader. From Land Rover Discovery to Nissan Patrol, Toyota Landcruiser and Range Rover – these cars can do what other vehicles can’t. They operate outside the asphalted world and offer space to transport people and equipment to wherever it may be needed. They are a (very special kind of) UTILITY VEHICLE. I think they are very cool.

    The SUV presents itself as their spiritual sibling. After all SUV stands for SPORT UTILITY VEHICLE, claiming to be basically an offroad-type utility vehicle, just a bit more sporty. Conceptually this is a bit of a contradiction in terms already, but like the low fat ice cream, the contradictory can sometimes be pulled of. Of course we know they are never used off road, nevertheless, the claim that theoretically they could be of some utility appears to be important.

    If one now drops the estate shape for some coupé-esque body style, the utility completely disappears from the equation. But clearly it’s not merely an SV, a SPORT VEHICLE, either, because we know those look different.

    What the SUV coupé is then, and in a way it’s being more honest to its own misguided schizophrenia this way, an SBV, a SPORTS BLING VEHICLE, of which the main purpose is to demonstrate one’s own oversized sense of self-importance to the other road users. Or to just have more bling, in a very imposing way.

    If this indeed is the most profitable trend in the automotive industry right now, it truly is a sad reflection of the state of society. I refuse to get used to the BMW X4/X6 and the new Mercedes GLC Coupé versions and I find the choices their owners have taken most regrettable indeed.

    Will the Porsche Cayenne Coupé sell? Absolutely. Should Porsche have built this? No. (“We just give the people what they want to buy!”, you here them screaming in there defense. I’m sure that’s what Smith&Wesson says too…)

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