Porsche’s Hotter, Track-Devouring Cayenne Coupe Hits the Nürburgring

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Update: Porsche’s taken its upcoming 600-plus-hp Cayenne Coupe to the Nürburgring Nordschleife, where driver Lars Kern drove the SUV around the 12.9-mile track in just a smidge under 7:39 (7:38.925, to be exact). In achieving this time, the forthcoming performance variant of the Cayenne Coupe claimed the track’s record in the “SUV, off-road vehicle, van, pick-up” category. The SUV that Porsche took to the track was largely stock, save for some light camouflage, a racing seat, and a roll cage. This includes the Nürburgring record-setting Cayenne’s specially developed 22-inch Pirelli P Zero Corsas, which Porsche states will come standard on the soon-to-be-released high-performance Cayenne trim.

You don’t trot out Walter Röhrl for fast laps at the Hockenheimring if you’re just doing a photo op with a pedestrian SUV. That’s why Porsche has our complete attention with the latest release, which features the legendary rally driver (and, more recently, Porsche test driver) getting some wheel time in a new version of the Cayenne Coupe.

Now, hold that thought and flashback to a few years ago, when our own Jonny Lieberman heard from a well-placed insider that Porsche’s GT division was finally going to do an SUV—the slinky Cayenne Coupe, per the source. Meanwhile, across the hall, senior editor Scott Evans heard directly from Mr. GT himself—Andy Preuninger, head of said division—that Porsche Motorsport was responsible for turning a “regular” Porsche 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 into the Lamborghini Urus’ 641-hp mill. That official output, by the way, is almost certainly an understatement.

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Scratch Lamborghini’s hatch, maybe Sant’Agata returns the favor. It’d make sense to use such an engine to vault a track-oriented Cayenne Coupe over its already potent GTS version, which makes 453 hp and can hit 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds—a little slower than the Turbo Coupe, which makes 541 horsepower, but more fun around the track. With a little more power and better brakes, it’d give the Turbo Coupe a run for its money in the figure-eight test, too. A lot more power, as we speculate it’ll get, and it’d leave the Turbo Coupe in the dust.

That seems to be what Porsche is cooking up here. Listen carefully to what Porsche says about what Röhrl is testing: an SUV that will claim best-in-class “performance … designed and developed even more single-mindedly to provide the ultimate in terms of longitudinal and lateral dynamics.” If this studied phrasing is to be believed, Porsche wants this upcoming Cayenne Coupe variant to whup all comers around a track.

Porsche also details some changes to the front axle: more negative camber and a half-inch wider front wheel ensure that there’s more grip available from the 22-inch Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires we spy on the prototype. The gold calipers suggest the company’s carbon-ceramic brakes are employed; we’d expect nothing less.

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A track-optimized, best-in-class performing SUV sure sounds like something that could emerge from the GT division. Whatever name it adopts—Cayenne Coupe GT, Cayenne Coupe GT5, something else entirely—we expect it to both improve upon the honed dynamics of the GTS and the startling acceleration and stopping power of the Turbo Coupe. Given the apparent late state of development here, with Porsche doing final calibrations, it shouldn’t take long for us to find out exactly what this thing is. But if it walks like a GT, and grunts like a GT, it’s probably a GT.

This story was originally published on May 21, 2021, and has since been updated to note the model’s Nürburgring run.

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