Is this a joke?” read the notification that flashed on my iPhone’s screen. “I had to check my calendar because the Cayenne coupe press release reads like an April Fools’ post,” continued the text from my old friend, Darren. The document says in part, “A contoured carbon roof is optionally available for the [Cayenne] Coupe on request. The center seam gives the roof the characteristic look of a sports car, similar to the Porsche 911 GT3 RS. The carbon roof is available in one of the three lightweight sports packages.” As a long-time Porsche owner, racer, and fan, Darren doesn’t take too kindly to the German company referencing both the 911 GT3 RS and the term “lightweight” in the press release for a new, near-5000-pound SUV. I don’t either. Porsche would like you to think that a carbon-fiber roof panel connects its competitor to the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE coupe to the minimalist, track-focused version of its legendary 911. It doesn’t. It’s simply an example of cash grabbing and smoke-and-mirrors marketing to feed certain buyers who have more money than taste.
Darren isn’t short on money and owns some rather nice cars. Sitting next to a 911 GT3 RS in his garage is a Porsche Carrera GT that he purchased new. His daily driver is a new BMW M3 CS with a set of winter wheels and tires for year-round use in Michigan. Darren’s wife drives a BMW X5. But it’s not the 567-hp X5 M or even a V-8–powered X5—it’s a rather basic six-cylinder model. He could easily afford to put her in a much faster and more expensive X5 but as he says, “It’s an SUV. Why would I try to make it something it’s not?”
And that’s exactly what we have with the new Porsche Cayenne coupe. Who honestly walks into a dealership and says, “I want to pay more for the less attractive and less practical version of that big, heavy SUV?” The cargo capacity of the Cayenne Coupe drops by more than five cubic feet to 22 compared to the conventional Cayenne. And don’t get me started on the frumpy AMC Eagle-like design. German automakers are lemmings. Sure, the Cayenne coupe is better looking than the clumsy X6 and the ill-proportioned GLE coupe, but the new Porsche isn’t remotely attractive. And if you want to add that comically contrived carbon-fiber roof, it’s part of a package that hits your pocketbook for $11,570 on the Turbo or $14,790 on the regular model (including the forced sport exhaust option). Additionally, Porsche is more than happy for you to add loads of bulky features on top of that “lightening” package, including a trailer hitch, four-zone climate control, and power sunshades. Think I’m being too cynical? The “lightweight sports package” also includes a heated multifunction steering wheel. Ferdinand Porsche is rolling over in his grave.
It’s time to call a spade a spade. I fully accept that the regular Cayenne exists and has been good for the company. But you have to look at the Cayenne and its smaller Macan sibling as nice-driving SUVs with some sprinkling of Porsche fairy dust, making them more dynamic than most non-Porsche SUVs. The Cayenne is not a sports car and doesn’t carry 911 DNA. The Cayenne coupe simply pushes things too far. It’s a flagrant dilution of the iconic brand. It’s time to put a cork in marketing’s megaphone and reevaluate what really makes a Porsche a Porsche. The company could start by making their Panamera drive more like a Porsche; the fact that a Mercedes-AMG E63 and BMW M5 are both far more rewarding behind the wheel is an embarrassment to the company’s history. But I digress.
Porsche should continue building the regular Cayenne. It would be stupid not to. But please stop the forced, trying-too-hard attempt to directly connect the Cayenne to your sports cars, Porsche; an SUV will never be a sports car and that’s okay. An SUV is an SUV. Darren finished off his text to me as follows: “The lines have become blurred at Porsche. Marketing-department-driven superfluous design and options are destroying what Ferdinand Porsche told everyone to protect. I don’t even know who this new Cayenne coupe targets—it’s sure not anyone I know. Oh, and a coupe only has two doors.” Then he included a link to this very appropriate video: