2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS Coupe: V8-Roaring, Track-Ready Family Hauler

Published on August 18, 2021 in Test Drives by Louis-Philippe Dubé

The introduction of the first Cayenne at the end of the 1990s was nothing less than sacrilegious for Porsche purists. As it turns out, the Cayenne saved the automaker from going under and is currently the most popular product – along with the Macan - coming out of the Stuttgart brand plants today. The Cayenne did get bigger and bulkier over time. Although its purpose remained the same, which is to cater to families who love the Porsche brand but still need to conduct their daily errands, the Cayenne got much finer and much more versatile in terms of performance and chassis calibration if not in terms of cargo space or passenger amenities.

Porsche also threw in a Coupe variant to make owners think they’re buying something sportier. But the Cayenne is sporty enough as it is, especially in the GTS variant.

The GTS moniker is back with the Cayenne and it comes with a package that encompasses all the best ingredients the Porsche manufacturer has to offer in terms of chassis calibration, weight reduction, and electronics, which are all incorporated into the family hauler that is the Porsche Cayenne.

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

As Sporty as a Large SUV Can Look

Before we go into the finer details of this driving experience, we must point out one of the coolest aesthetic features of the GTS package for the Porsche Cayenne, which is undoubtedly the center titanium exhaust system with tail pipes coming out of the center of the bumper. This one is not only aesthetically unique for a family vehicle, it is beautifully savage in terms of its capabilities to terrorize the neighborhood in its most aggressive setting.

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

The 2021 Porsche Cayenne is very spacious inside and delivers sporty, yet plush comfort for all occupants with a design that is truly, well, Porsche! In the center console, you will find captative touch controls that are stylish while adding uniformity and modernity to the center column. However, these controls can be dissatisfying for drivers who enjoy good ole analogue feedback from buttons and levers.

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

Like a (Big) Bat Outta Hell

The Porsche Cayenne GTS is no slouch. While most manufacturers tend to remove cylinders and axe displacement, Porsche opted to bring back the V8 engine. This model is a 4.0-liter, twin-turbo that produces 453 hp from 6,000-6,500 rpm and 457 lb-ft of torque from 1,800 rpm all the way to 4,500 rpm. This power plant is mated to the 7-Speed PDK automatic transmission, which plays a key role in not only delivering the signature drivability that Porsche drivers are looking for, but also feeding the Porsche all-wheel drive system that makes the Cayenne such an agile SUV during our harsh Canadian Winters.

It won’t take long after you’ve ventured out on the road with the Cayenne to question whether you are really driving a large family vehicle. To almost completely forget this physical reality, twist the drive selector mode to Sport or Sport+ mode. The Porsche Cayenne GTS also allows you to curate your own experience by individually calibrating certain aspects of the chassis, such as the suspension, exhaust note, and more.

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

While you may experience a certain amount of light body roll in Comfort mode (understandably, since the vehicle is high off the ground), this clearance is modified in Sport mode. Along with the carefully dialed-in pneumatic suspension, the Cayenne will virtually eliminate this feeling while sharpening its senses for steering, acceleration, and shifting, while feeling much less like a family vehicle. True bliss!

Conclusion

A question still remains. Why would anybody want that much performance or even track equipment integrated into a 5,000+ lb sport utility vehicle? While bragging rights are part of it, after driving one, you will understand that the systems and drive modes can seriously modify the dynamics while retaining all the essential aspects of a good family hauler. That’s the uncompromising approach of the Cayenne.

And with an uncompromising approach comes a cost. The biggest problem with the Cayenne (and Porsche vehicles in general) is always the selling price and options you have to add on. However, if you want the dynamic experience and the V8 roar that comes with it, the GTS variant is a good strategy—if you can afford it.

Test drive report
Test model 2021 Porsche Cayenne
Trim level GTS Coupe
Price range $77,500 – $191,200
Price as tested 126 500 $
Warranty (basic) 4 years/80,000 km
Warranty (powertrain) 4 years/80,000 km
Fuel economy (city/highway/observed) 15,2 / 12,4 / N/A L/100km
Options N/A
Competitive models Acura MDX, Audi Q7, Audi Q8, BMW X5, BMW X6, Buick Enclave, Genesis GV80, Infiniti QX60, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Land Rover Range Rover Sport, Lexus GX, Lexus RX, Lincoln Aviator, Lincoln Nautilus, Maserati Levante, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Volvo XC90
Strong points
  • Terrific handling for its size
  • Roaring V8 with plenty of power
  • Unique looks
Weak points
  • The GTS doesn't have the best ride comfort
  • The cost of certain options is mind-boggling
Editor's rating
Fuel economy N/A Not evaluated.
Comfort 4.0/5 Bucket seats deliver support and comfort.
Performance 4.5/5 Plenty of horses for the size.
Infotainment 3.5/5 This system still needs improvement.
Driving 4.0/5 The Cayenne GTS is impressively fun to drive for a big SUV.
Overall 4.0/5 The Cayenne GTS doesn't compromise much
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