What Is It?
When Porsche introduced the Cayenne almost 20 years ago, critics believed adding an SUV to the German automaker’s lineup marked the beginning of the end for this renowned sports car marque. That didn’t turn out to be the case — in fact, robust Cayenne sales made it possible for Porsche to continue building its legendary cars. The Cayenne has come a long way in two decades, and now it is one of the most powerful vehicles in the lineup as the 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe. After spending a few days with this high-powered hybrid, we can say with certainty that it earns its place in the storied pantheon of Porsche.
The automaker provided us with a 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe (yes, that’s a mouthful), painted in Moonlight Blue Metallic. Since this hybrid is the top-level trim of the Cayenne lineup, most items are standard. That said, the few additional goodies on the test vehicle included rear-axle steering, a sport exhaust, 21-inch wheels, 4-zone climate control and a Premium Package Plus for a total MSRP of $179,950. Competitors to the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid include the BMW X6M, Audi RS Q8, Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, Lamborghini Urus and Aston Martin DBX.
Granted it’s a matter of taste, but we’re not big fans of Porsche’s SUV Coupe. The automaker introduced the Cayenne Coupe for the 2020 model year, sporting a roofline that slopes downward to the rear taillights rather than employing a more squared-off shape of a traditional SUV. Unfortunately the shape has no performance gains, resulting only in a reduction of rear-seat headroom and cargo space. The proportions appear incongruous, and it seems a bit foolhardy to sacrifice space and utility for no added benefit except styling. The Cayenne Coupe also costs about $3,000 more than its non-coupe sibling.
Under the Hood
Powering this hybrid Cayenne that possesses an incredibly long name is a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine that produces 541 horsepower teamed with a 134-horsepower electric motor for a total output of 670 horsepower and 663 lb-ft of torque. The electric motor is positioned between the V8 and the 8-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission, which makes it possible for power to be delivered from either source independently — or both for maximum thrust. Power gets sent to all four wheels: Porsche Traction Management all-wheel drive is standard on all Cayenne variants.
The 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe has a plug-in hybrid system with a 14.2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a standard 7.2-kW onboard charger. A full charge can be achieved in about 2.4 hours using a Level 2 connection; however, when plugged into a standard 110-volt household outlet that time balloons to 25 hours. Designed with the European market in mind where standard power is 220 volts, the Cayenne charge time is much longer when using a 110-volt outlet. The U.S. EPA reports a range of 12 miles on electric-only power; however, we consistently saw more than 20 miles of range available after a full charge.
As the most powerful model in the Cayenne lineup, the Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe is understandably quick. It takes a mere 3.6 seconds to sprint to 60 mph, and odds are the SUV will be well beyond this speed in the time it takes to say the vehicle’s entire name. If given enough track, the Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe tops out at 183 mph — or 83 mph in pure electric mode. Despite its quick genetics, the Cayenne is still an SUV and has most of the utility expected of such a vehicle — it can tow up to 6,600 pounds, traverse up to 11 inches of water, and possesses a maximum ground clearance of 9.6 inches with the suspension raised to its highest level.
Typically for a vehicle that weighs more than 5.5 tons and boasts 670 horsepower, fuel economy is the last stat worth mentioning. However, the Cayenne hybrid is surprisingly efficient. According to the U.S. EPA, the 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe is rated at 39 MPGe combined in electric mode and 18 mpg combined when running on gasoline. During our time in this fast Cayenne we averaged around 21 mpg in a mix of electric-only and incredibly enthusiastic driving.
Tires and Brakes
The test 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe we drove features 21-inch wheels shod with Pirelli Scorpion Verde all-season tires that offer excellent performance in both dry and wet conditions. Stopping power comes courtesy of large Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes with 10-piston aluminum monobloc fixed calipers up front, 4-piston grabbers in the rear. The brake calipers are Acid Green — Porsche’s way of indicating this model is electrified.
The 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe features a large display screen that integrates well with the dashboard. The driver can quickly and easily access navigation, phone, media and other primary items via permanent controls on the left side of the screen.
Adding to the high-tech look of the Cayenne cockpit, the center console surrounds the gear shift with soft-touch buttons redundant to the display screen, as well as climate control settings and other drive controls. Although we appreciate the accessibility of these controls, the design doesn’t leave much space for storage.
Gauges in the 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe are a mix of analog and digital readouts. A large tachometer at the driver’s center view gets flanked by configurable digital displays. Acid Green needles perpetuate Porsche’s hybrid green theme by echoing the exterior badging and brake calipers. Information presented can include electric range, trip computer readout or even a full-color navigation map.
The test Cayenne we piloted was equipped with standard Adaptive Sport Seats featuring 18-way adjustments and larger bolsters for the seatbacks and bottoms. Although a bit stiff, the hybrid’s seats feel comfortably snug and offer great support. The front seats are also heated and ventilated, and head restraints get embossed with Turbo S, lest owners forget which Porsche variant they possess.
The aft area of the 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe has two-seat configuration that provides more room and additional storage for occupants sequestered to the second row. Offering plenty of legroom, comfortable seats and dual-zone climate control, the rear seats are not a bad place to travel. Granted this Cayenne has slightly less headroom than the non-coupe version, although for most adults this won’t be an issue. A panoramic sunroof adds to an overall spacious feeling within the cabin.
The Cayenne’s utility continues rearward thanks to a spacious cargo area. The rear hatch opens wide for easy loading and unloading; however, with the coupe body style the height of the cargo space — especially with the cover in place — can be limiting. That said, the large floor space adds to the everyday usability of this incredibly fast crossover.
On the Road
The 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe has two distinct personalities, selectable via a drive-mode dial on the steering wheel. In E-Power or Hybrid mode the Cayenne remains calm and quiet, providing a smooth and comfortable ride for all. The E-Power mode will remain in electric power until the battery gets depleted or full throttle is engaged. Acceleration is reasonable in this mode — not incredibly quick but certainly usable in city driving. Hybrid mode brings the gas engine online when needed, although with the muted exhaust starts and stops are practically imperceptible.
Changing the steering-wheel-mounted selector to Sport Plus awakens this hybrid’s Mr. Hyde. Suspension lowers, shifts get quicker, rpm climbs higher and the sport exhaust goes from silent to full roar. Full throttle results in an exhaust bark at every gear change, accompanied by throttle response that is immediate and strong. If the driver chooses to pin the right foot to the floor, passengers are also pinned to their seats well into triple digits, which does not take long to achieve. In addition to providing maximum performance, Sport Plus mode also charges the batteries; after several miles of enthusiastic driving we added enough juice to permit cruising through town in total silence.
As a proper Porsche, this hybrid Cayenne does more than simply go fast in a straight line. The Cayenne hides its weight well with wide, grippy tires, precise steering and excellent brakes. Helping preserve the legacy of Porsche drivability are Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus — all of which are standard equipment on the Turbo S E-Hybrid. Ultimately, this vehicle drives exactly like a Porsche SUV should.
With the 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe, the German automaker has created a sporting crossover with all the utility, capability and comfort expected of a luxury SUV. And with its innovative hybrid powertrain, the Cayenne makes a great daily driver — cruising smoothly, quietly and efficiently (if desired) or being driven hard on winding back roads while engaging all 670 horses. We’re still not superfans of the coupe styling, so we would likely opt for the standard Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid, although we would be happy to get into either Cayenne every morning.