Goodwood Test: 2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS Coupe Review
When the first Cayenne came out in the early 2000s it did two things. Firstly it caused a fair amount of revulsion from people horrified at the weird transplant of a Porsche face onto a big SUV body. More importantly it revolutionised the world of sportscar brands forever. The Cayenne arguably saved Porsche, set it on a path to the size of company that it is today – dominating the world of high-end sporting cars. But the fact remained that it was pretty ugly. Then the next Cayenne came along, and it all began to soften a bit. By the third generation it was less repulsive and more acceptable. And then Porsche did something they probably should have done years before – they made a “coupe” version. It isn’t a coupe (we’ll save that fruitless argument for later) but it is a shape much more befitting a Porsche SUV.
Now the Coupe has been GTS-ed. I always like to think of the GTS as being the spec that Porsche would pick. It doesn’t have everything on the options list, and it doesn’t have as much power as the Turbo. But it has enough power and all the kit you really need.
- Epic V8
- Drive is better than it has any right to be
- Interior still has buttons
We don't like
- It’s still a massive SUV with a Porsche badge
- Very thirsty, and high emissions mean high tax
- The ‘coupe’ rear means less room than the standard car
The current Cayenne is not the worst thing in the world to look at. The modern shaped Boxster/Cayman lights, which are grafted onto the Cayenne, are much easier to look at. It was those original fried egg Boxster lights that never really fitted onto a big SUV, having to be moulded and tortured into some horrible, massive concoction to take their place on the original Cayenne’s front. Now more of a softened triangle they fit better.
It might be that we have also got much more used to the idea of SUVs in Europe, but the Cayenne is much less offensive as we move into 2021. It has the three-part grille that you find on all Porsches these days, but given the size of the Cayenne it’s stretched to GT2 RS levels, and is a pleasant face to gaze upon. The back is where the Coupe name comes in. With the bluff rear of the standard Cayenne making way for a sloping rear, it means the rear three-quarter window and roof take a more ‘Porsche’ design pattern, closer to the Panamera and 911 than ever before. Of course the Panamera is far more of the Cayenne’s sibling than the 911, but design queues come from both. That all-the-way-across rear light structure is pure Panamera and altogether it feels like a more balanced design for a car. Certainly a car with a Porsche badge.
Performance and Handling
Where the Cayenne diverts from any signs of 911 influence is under the bonnet. Once a V8 was a strange oddity for Porsche, only found in a series of slightly awkwardly styled coupes built in the ‘80s and early-‘90s, ones which now have a cult following. But vees have been the mainstay of the Cayenne throughout its life. No Cayenne has ever had a traditional Porsche flat-six, preferring the power of a V6 or V8 (some early cars had a VR6). In the GTS it’s the 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 that can be found in various forms across a lot of different VAG group cars. Here it has 460PS (338kW) and 620Nm (457lb ft) on offer. Driving all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Suspension is aluminium multi-link both front and rear, with PSM (Porsche Stability management) and PTM (Porsche Traction Management) as standard.
That means a surprisingly sprightly drive for a car that weighs 2,200kg. After nearly 20 years of Cayenne-ing we really shouldn’t be shocked that these cars feel so Porsche-y, but in reality it never fails to slightly blow our minds. The sprint to 62mph is achieved from a standstill in just 4.5 seconds and the Coupe GTS will hit 168mph where it’s allowed. The surprising thing is that you can attack the roads in the big Porsche. It isn’t that the car feels light, or disguises its weight, not in the way that a Stelvio Quadrifoglio pretends to be a big hot hatch (although the Alfa is 500kg lighter), it’s more that it doesn’t mind that the mass is there. You feel that the car is heavy, but not uncontrollable. It’s more that every movement and communication inspires more confidence. The throttle response is good and the weighty steering is where that confidence comes from, that and the fact that roll, while impossible the eliminate, is controlled.
Traction from the all-wheel-drive system is excellent, with a nose that digs and rear that pulls as you hunt for grip through a corner. It’s all sound-tracked by that big V8, which rumbles along to your every move. We’ve driven cars with this very same engine from several brands, and this must be the car in which it sounds at its very best.
Just one word, a word that should delight everyone in this world of sub menus: buttons. The biggest Porsche has a lot of them. Sure there is a central screen there, and it’s a big one, 12.3-inches to be precise, but a lot of the day-to-day functions, climate control, chassis settings etc. can be controlled by buttons on the centre console. That console is huge, dominating the interior of the Cayenne, and sits quite high up compared to your elbow.
The Cayenne also retains a proper gearstick, proper in terms of not being the little switch now found in 911 and Taycan, rather than as a manual. No doubt that will disappear in the next refresh for the Cayenne, but for now it’s appreciated, as it’s far too easy to miss-shift with that small switch. The dash is part digitised without losing the traditional binnacles for dials. As usual with Porsche everything is nailed together to the best quality and overall it’s quite possibly the most usable inside in the whole Porsche range.
Technology and Features
As this is the GTS the list of standard options is extensive. Sat-nav, Apple CarPlay (not Android Auto), a digital radio, USB charging, dynamic headlights, electric seats, rain-sensing wipers and climate control headline the list in terms of comfort. On the assistance side the Cayenne GTS has reversing cameras and dynamic guidance as standard, as well as cruise control and keyless entry and go. In fact it would be almost easier to mention the things that aren’t standard on the Cayenne Coupe. Given that we recently drove a Boxster that had been specced up beyond £100,000 that is a welcome change of pace, especially given the standard price for the GTS of £88,750. Of course there are still some options added, with privacy glass, full 360 parking, heated steering wheel, rear-axle steering and the paint and interior GTS markings extras. All together our car came to £98,646.
How we really should all hate the Porsche Cayenne. A big bloated SUV with a bunch of Porsche badges slapped all over it. But then you turn that starter and hear the V8 rumble its way into life and pretty much everything from then on is hard to hate. In fact it’s hard to even mildly dislike. Sure people around you will probably dislike you on sight, but do you really care when you know that you’re in the superior car? The Cayenne GTS is incredibly capable, able to swallow basically the whole of IKEA (helpful when Porsche GB HQ is right next to one) and a genuinely nice place to spend some time. Sure the ‘coupe’ styling makes it less practical than its sister with the standard hatchback, but it also looks a lot better, so you pays your money. It’ll also embarrass plenty of smug drivers who assume they are better than you in their S2000s, so really, what’s not to like? Don’t hate yourself for liking the Cayenne, it’s just impossible not to.
This score is an average based on aggregated reviews from trusted and verified sources.
|Engine||4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8|
|Power||450PS (338kW) @ 6,000rpm|
|Torque||620Nm (457lb ft) @ 1,800rpm|
|Transmission||Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel-drive|
Reviewed by Ben Miles