Auto123 reviews the 2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS Coupe.
As I've mentioned in the past, I'm not an SUV fan. I understand families owning one for its practicality, storage, space and all the rest - but when it comes to the driving experience, you lose me. There are exceptions to the rule, however, and today's review takes a look at one of those. The Cayenne SUV has always been more about the sport than the utility, and its GTS variant represents the right balance between comfort and emotion, between sportiness and balance - and this is even more true with the 2021 model.
The return of the V8
My interest in recent GTS models had waned in recent year, mainly because of the V6 engines that came to power them. Actually power wasn't the issue; rather the issue was emotion, or the lack of it. This engine, although efficient, was very discreet. It seems that Porsche got the message, and it has returned the V8 to its place under the hood.
Porsche didn't have to look far to find it either. It used the 4.0L turbo V8 already found in the very powerful top-of-the-line Cayenne version, though the performance numbers a somewhat reduced here. Still, you still get 453 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque, enough to get this 2-ton beast from a stop to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds. Beyond the power you feel, there's also the thrill of the sound of the V8 under full acceleration and the ideal pairing with the 8-speed automatic transmission that can also be used in manual mode with the steering wheel paddles when you feel like it.
As a result, this GTS is once again my favorite Cayenne, though I must point out that not everything is perfect. More on that in a bit.
A soundtrack that's hard not to love
Unlike some V8s with guttural voices that eventually get on your nerves, it is possible to modulate the soundtrack of a GTS’s engine. To get the full raging Tiger effect, you put the little knob on the steering wheel in Sport+ mode; your beast will roar to life and its exhaust pipe will positively fart with joy when you’re downshifting. At other times, in everyday congestion or at highway cruising speed, the Normal mode isn't much louder than the old V6.
Despite the presence of 22-inch tires (our tester had 21-inch winter tires), comfort is very decent thanks to an effective air suspension that modulates ground clearance according to speed. You're also dealing with a very stiff chassis. Few SUVs respond so well and so quickly to driver input. That’s the kind of compliment that usually goes to a sports car, not an SUV.
Power is always at the driver's service and not the other way around, which makes for a very secure driving experience. You always feel in full control, for instance you can attack curves as if you were behind the wheel of a Boxster, and at no time will you feel the slightest worry lines soil your forehead.
Did we say not everything’s perfect?
Those who know Porsche understand that when it comes to its products, the base price means nothing. Buyers getting one usually add more than $20,000 in options. Our test model had over $30,000 in options and even at that price it was still missing items that should be considered essential at that price.
First, let's talk about the base price at $126,500. It's true that you already have quite a machine for that, which I would dare to call the Gran Turismo of SUVs. But to increase the fun, you have to dig deep into your wallet.
Our model was equipped with the $18,160 Sport Premium Plus package. At that price, you get the Carbon Fiber Package, which includes a roof and carbon-fibre inserts in the cabin. You also get heated and ventilated seats, LED headlights, 22-inch wheels and some electronic driving aids. The red colour on our tester is $3,590 more. The torque vectoring package that adds to the performance is $4,090. The 360-degree cameras are $1,360.
And even at that price, you'll be leaving out a lot of options like a top-of-the-line audio system at $8,000 that wasn't part of our options or an induction charger at $700 or better soundproofed windows at $1,280. And worst of all, the intelligent cruise control, at $4,110.
It's frankly nuts that you have to pay extra for such things in a vehicle costing this much. Wireless charging is standard equipment in $25,000 Hyundai cars, for Pete’s sake. And if you have an iPhone, you'll need USB-C cables, of which there are 4 inputs for in the Cayenne GTS - no USB-A plugs and no wireless charger. I ran out of juice in my iPhone and this GTS is not compatible with Android.
You'll also have to devote a bit of time to fully mastering the infotainment system, as in a few hours of training. Otherwise, though, the rest of the interior environment and its finishing is beyond reproach. The seat is a bit short and too high for my taste, but I ended up finding a good driving position.
Not only does the Cayenne coupe version look good, it's capable of towing 7,700 lb, loses little cargo space in comparison with the 4-door version, and offers a unique driving experience that puts it in a class of its own in the SUV domain. Once you're behind the wheel, you'll forget about the little things and fully enjoy the mechanical symphony. Which is what we did.
Truly impressive handling for an SUV
Plenty of power to play with
We like less
Many features that should be standard at this price are optional
Glossy black interior panels can quickly look dirty
Poor rear visibility