It’s easy to look at an automaker’s lineup and conclude that bigger means better. That the shinier, newer, more expensive model is the one to get. That the car, truck, or SUV with the most eye-popping horsepower and performance numbers must be the best. While that is indeed sometimes how it works, when it comes to Porsche, the calculation is often harder to nail down. And so it was when I recently had a chance to drive the new 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe and the 2020 Porsche Macan Turbo back-to-back.
Yes, the Cayenne is bigger than the Macan (9.5 inches longer overall with a 3.5-inch longer wheelbase), and the Turbo version of the Cayenne Coupe (not to be confused with the Turbo S E-Hybrid) gets a more powerful boosted V-8 as opposed to the Macan’s twin-turbo six. The Cayenne Turbo Coupe also starts at close to $50,000 more than the Macan Turbo, and the third-generation Cayenne is newer in its lifecycle than the recently refreshed Macan. If you have the money to spring for the Cayenne, then the choice is clear. Or is it? Like with the 911 and Cayman, there are other considerations at work here that make that decision much harder to reach.
2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe vs 2020 Porsche Macan Turbo: Powertrain and Performance
The Cayenne Turbo Coupe’s potent 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 cranks out 541 horsepower and 567 pound-feet of torque, more than enough juice to propel its roughly 5,000-pound curb weight with authority. It’s wicked fast and fun to blast up to speed again and again. Bust down on the go-pedal and Porsche says the Cayenne Turbo Coupe can barrel to 60 mph in as little as 3.7 seconds. It feels every bit that quick. When you’re on the freeway and need to power past a pokey pack, the Cayenne has your back. It’s one of the fastest production SUVs in existence for a reason.
While the Macan can’t match the Cayenne in straight line speed (167 mph top speed to the Cayenne Turbo Coupe’s 177 mph), when equipped with the Sport Chrono package (which this test model had), Porsche says the Macan Turbo can touch 60 mph in 4.1 seconds thanks to its 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 (an engine that also powers the Cayenne S Coupe) with 434 horses and 405 pound-feet. The Macan’s boosted six is pushing about 800 fewer pounds around than the Cayenne Turbo Coupe, so it feels a bit more agile at times, though it naturally can’t match the Cayenne’s power surges. And that’s where the Macan Turbo doesn’t quite deliver—in providing the massive turbo surge you get with other Porsche Turbo models.
What the Macan does have up its sleeve is Porsche’s PDK seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, a unit with more polish than the outsourced 8-speed automatic that backs the Cayenne’s V-8. With everything dialed up in Sport+, the Macan’s PDK does a slightly better job holding the gears, making the smaller SUV feel that much more connected and quicker to respond. A bit more Porsche-like, if you will.
2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe vs 2020 Porsche Macan Turbo: Handling and Dynamic Capabilities
The first thing I remember thinking after jumping back and forth from the Cayenne to the Macan is how similar I felt bouncing into and out of the 911 and Cayman. Like the 911, the Cayenne feels bigger, higher, more commanding, and markedly faster to me than the Macan Turbo. And like the Cayman, the Macan shrinks around you and seems a smidge more connected to the road.
Both of the turbo Porsche SUVs I tested use similar active all-wheel drive technology to automatically modulate torque distribution depending on situation. The Cayenne Turbo Coupe and Macan Turbo also both came equipped with an adaptive air suspension with Porsche’s Active Suspension Management system (PASM) on board, which can tighten up ride from Normal to Sport+ at your command, as well as the automaker’s torque vectoring system (PTV+) that also locks the rear differential during hard corner exit situations (the + in PTV+).
The Cayenne Coupe was also fitted with Porsche’s active roll stabilization (PDCC), a 48-volt powered system that adjusts the torsional rigidity of the vehicle’s anti-roll bars in a matter of milliseconds when the going gets twisty on-road, or if you’re rolling over a bumpy trail off-road. Both of these Porsche SUVs can do some serious hauling as well: The 2020 Cayenne Turbo Coupe can pull up to 7,716 pounds; the Macan Turbo can tow as much as 5,291 pounds.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get much of a chance to truly test the dynamic capabilities of either the Cayenne Turbo Coupe or the Macan Turbo to their limits. But, suffice it to say, during my time rolling around in them on the mean streets of L.A., they both felt seriously composed at high speeds (the Cayenne Turbo Coupe has a fixed rear spoiler with an adaptive unit below for added stability), cornered as well as or better than the best SUVs on the market, and didn’t beat you up when everything was dialed back and in Normal mode. It was hard to tell where one started and the other left off when it came to overall handling ability, steering feel, and on-road connectedness. They are, in a word, superb—they’re super-sport crossovers of the highest order.
As you’d expect, the 2020 Cayenne Turbo Coupe’s brakes are substantial, with 16.3-inch tungsten carbide-coated discs and specially designed brake pads (PSCB in Porsche-speak) with 10-piston calipers up front and a 14.3-inch, four-piston design at the rear. The PSCB setup is said to keep brake dust to a minimum and improve brake performance. The same PSCB brake setup is also standard for the Macan Turbo, with its 15.3-inch, six-caliper front brakes and 14.0-inch single-caliper rear design. They rolled on remarkably similar-looking and -behaving 21-inch wheel and tire packages. Coming in hot from a freeway off-ramp, I was surprised once by the Cayenne Turbo Coupe’s brake pedal feel at the outset, but once I put my foot into it, they bit as you’d expect. Overall, both vehicles hauled down from high speeds with authority—no surprise, given the world class braking systems they’re fitted with.
2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe vs Porsche Macan Turbo: Interior and Exterior
Looking at the 2020 Macan Turbo, you could say it’s the Cayenne Turbo Coupe’s little bro. They are remarkably similar from the profile view especially, with almost identical greenhouses (the Cayenne Coupe is only 1.1 inches taller). Up front, the Macan has a deeper mug and defined side intakes framing it, whereas the Cayenne Coupe has a shallow opening that runs the width of the front. Light banks front and back are also similar, though the Cayenne’s rear appears more raked, and it also has the active lower rear spoiler that the Macan Turbo does not.
Inside, the changes are more acute, with the Cayenne Turbo Coupe getting Porsche’s new-generation center stack and console that eschews the button-heavy approach the Macan Turbo still employs for more haptic touch surfaces. While their multi-function steering wheels are very similar, there are significant differences in the Cayenne Turbo Coupe’s instrument panel with its two 7-inch HD screens and a full HD, 12.3-inch touchscreen dominating the center stack.
As you’d guess, the cabin is bigger in the Cayenne, and even given the sloped rear greenhouse of the Coupe variant, there is plenty of headroom in the back for rear seat occupants. The Macan is snug in the cockpit; not necessarily a bad thing, as it makes me feel more in touch with the vehicle, and it feels lower and more car-like in its approach than the Cayenne. Interestingly, despite the overall length and wheelbase differences, the cargo capacity of the two vehicles with the rear seats folded is roughly the same, at 53.0 cu-ft for the Macan Turbo and 53.3 for the Cayenne Turbo Coupe.
In the end, like the 911 is for its sports cars, the Cayenne will always serve as the vanguard for Porsche’s SUV lineup. It will always be bigger, faster, and have the latest technology. But like the Cayman, the Macan has charms that go far beyond just being the entry level, smaller, and less-expensive option. If given the choice between the Cayenne Turbo Coupe and Macan Turbo, honestly, I’m not sure which one I’d pick.
2020 Porsche Macan Turbo Specifications
|PRICE||$84,950 (base)/$94,120 (as tested)|
|ENGINE||2.9L turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6/434 hp @ 6,600 rpm, 405 lb-ft @ 1,800 rpm|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV|
|EPA MILEAGE||18/22 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||185.0 x 82.6 x 64.0 in|
|WEIGHT||4,244 lb (est)|
|0-60 MPH||4.1 sec|
|TOP SPEED||167 mph|
2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe Specifications
|PRICE||$131,450 (base)/$145,110 (as tested)|
|ENGINE||4.0L turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8/541 hp @ 6,600 rpm, 567 lb-ft @ 1,960 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV|
|EPA MILEAGE||15/19 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||194.5 x 86.4 x 65.1 in|
|WEIGHT||4,244 lb (est)|
|0-60 MPH||3.7 sec|
|TOP SPEED||177 mph|