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2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS review

With a V8 back under the bonnet, the Cayenne GTS is once again the sweet spot in Porsche's large SUV family – but is it worth the near $200,000 price tag?

1 month ago
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Alborz Fallah
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PROS
  • Stupidly quick powertrain
  • V8 burble and note hard to ignore
  • Great interior and technology
CONS
  • Brakes can feel underwhelming
  • Active safety systems not standard
  • Not as aggressive in appearance as some rivals

In this age of downsizing and striving for efficiency, perceived or real, the idea that a car company would go from a six to an eight-cylinder engine with a generation change is unheard of.

But that’s exactly what you get with 2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS – a twin-turbo V8 that replaces the V6 of the previous model. 

Have the Germans lost their mindS? No, they just want to give the mighty internal-combustion engine a proper last hurrah.

Porsche seems to be giving a big middle finger to the new emission regulations and the ever-strengthening rhetoric against combustion engines in favour of electric cars.

That’s not to say it’s not diving head first into electric vehicles, because it definitely is with the likes of the Taycan EV and the upcoming Macan EV.

But for now, if you have a giant 4.0-litre V8 that also happens to be in a Lamborghini Urus and other members of the wider Volkswagen Group, you may as well put it in a Cayenne GTS.

This will undoubtedly be the last V8 Cayenne GTS you’ll ever see. If you’re going to go out, you may as well go out with a bang. 

How much does the Porsche Cayenne GTS cost?

There are two models of the Cayenne GTS: the wagon and the Coupe. To be honest it’s not all that easy to tell them apart on the road and the Coupe, which has less room, costs $5300 more than the $192,500 before on-road costs Cayenne GTS wagon.

That makes it $53,500 cheaper than the Cayenne Turbo (with which the GTS shares its V8 heart) and $31,000 more than the Cayenne S .

What do you get?

You get a lot, but you also don’t get enough. Typical Porsche, then. 

The Cayenne GTS vehicles coming to Australia are better equipped than their European equivalents, with adaptive air suspension, a head-up display, a Bose premium sound system, metallic paint, privacy glass, the driver memory package, heated front seats, lane-change assist, and surround view cameras all standard.

Additional standard kit includes a sports exhaust, 21-inch RS Spyder wheels (with a 20-inch spare), Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus. If you buy the Coupe, you also get the Sport Chrono package thrown in. 

To be fair, they should be standard equipment so there is no need to make a song and dance about heated seats on a $200,000 car. But we are talking about Porsche, and to give credit the company’s Australian arm has clearly listened to customers about the need for higher specification cars.

The Cayenne GTS really doesn’t need an awful lot of options to make it great. 

Perhaps the most important thing you get with the Cayenne GTS, though, is the V8 engine without the Turbo price tag. The application of this car’s excellent 4.0-litre engine in a car under $200,000 is a real win.

Is the Porsche Cayenne GTS safe?

Short answer, yes. It has been rated five stars by Euro NCAP (though it doesn’t appear to have a local ANCAP rating) and is based on the same MLB Evo platform as the Volkswagen Touareg, Audi Q7/Q8, Lamborghini Urus, and even the Bentley Bentayga.

Nonetheless, Porsche’s list of standard equipment for active safety is somewhat lacking.

You’ll need to tick a few boxes to get all the bells and whistles when it comes to assistance systems that will help prevent an accident and frankly, for a family car that costs this much that should absolutely not be the case. 

One can make the argument Porsche keeps the price down by giving buyers the choice when it comes to active safety, but we feel safety should never be an option. 

Here are some options to give you an idea of cost: night vision assist ($4650) and lane-keep assist ($1220), as well as adaptive cruise with AEB and active lane-keeping ($4870). The last one should definitely be standard in a car like this.

What is the Porsche Cayenne GTS like on the inside?

The Porsche Cayenne GTS carries over a lot of the standard SUV’s interior. This is a good thing because the Cayenne is a great car inside to start with.

GTS models gain some unique features, such as a stainless steel door entry guard with the GTS lettering. You’ll find additional GTS badging on the seat headrests and the rev counter, not to mention subtle badging on the outside.  

Perhaps the most noticeable part of the GTS’s interior is the Alcantara used generously on the roof lining, seat inserts, centre console, and door armrests, nicely complementing the black leather covering the rest of the cabin.

You should probably order the GTS interior package to go all-out with contrast and decorative stitching in either Carmine Red or Crayon for the dashboard, seats, centre console, doors, and seatbelts. 

We found the sports seats pretty comfortable, with reasonable bolstering to hold you tight when the going gets fast without losing out on the main purpose of the car, which is being a comfortable but sporty daily. 

There is reasonable storage around the cabin but it could be better given the size of the car. The lack of a wireless phone charger is also a little backward. 

Porsche’s infotainment system works pretty damn well, with a super crisp screen that presents very little glare even in direct sunlight.

The default system is good enough to do most of the tasks you need but the availability of Apple CarPlay makes it even better, and we did not encounter any issues using smartphone mirroring. 

The Bose sound system is also very punchy and bass-heavy but lacks the clarity of the better systems from brands like Meridian that are available in Range Rover vehicles. You will need to spend $9630 to get the proper Burmester system.

Boot space is 741L.

What’s under the bonnet?

A mighty 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 punching out a healthy 338kW of power and 620Nm of torque. To say the engine in the GTS is running a safe tune is an understatement. 

The same block runs 404kW and 770Nm in the Cayenne Turbo and an insane 485kW and 850Nm in the Lamborghini Urus.

Of course, Porsche wants to charge more to give you that extra power and there are no doubt some hardware differences, but let’s just say this engine has potential to be a lot more than what Porsche has allowed in the GTS with some… tinkering.

That might is pushed through all four wheels through an eight-speed torque converter automatic (dubbed Tiptronic S) we found to be rapid on upshifts and downshifts, and was always in the right gear.

With the Sport Chrono package Porsche claims the Cayenne GTS will do 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds, which seems quicker than you will ever need – and it is in our nanny state of a country – but in fairness, that figure is now what the hottest hatches are punching.

Porsche claims combined fuel economy of 12.2 L/ 100km (more than the Turbo), but don’t expect that be achievable unless you’re so gentle with the throttle you allow the V8 engine to turn off a few cylinders to save fuel.

The engine and transmission combo are hard to beat, and the burble of the V8 engine at full noise is hard to not love. The sports exhaust with its quad pipes are a nice addition and give the car a tougher look, but we do like the idea of an optional centrally-mounted exhaust that further enhances the noise. 

While you can go and buy a Range Rover Sport SVR with a supercharged V8 engine and Spitfire-style exhaust, what makes the Cayenne GTS really shine is how it drives.

How does the Porsche Cayenne GTS drive?

Weighing in at a hefty 2220 kg (kerb), you wouldn’t expect the Cayenne GTS to be agile. But every time we drive a Porsche we ask how it continues making cars that you can daily drive, but then push at 10/10ths around corners without consequence. 

The multiple personality of Porsche vehicles is the company’s greatest asset. Even its SUVs carry an essential part of the sporty soul that makes the brand what it is.

That’s why when we found ourselves going hell for leather in the GTS around twisty roads on the outskirts of the Gold Coast, there wasn’t too much surprise at how amazingly well it handled the bends… well, until we had to brake.

Porsche offers carbon brakes on the Cayenne GTS for $18,770, but we would suggest saving your money for more useful options as the standard brakes should be enough. In saying that, we found ourselves going into corners a few times where the brakes simply did not pull the car up as quickly as we had anticipated. 

Once we generated some heat stopping performance undoubtedly improved, but not enough to say we felt super confident in the braking capabilities of the Cayenne GTS when driving hard.

It’s a shame, because as a dynamically capable SUV – especially when optioned with rear-axle steering ($4300) and dynamic chassis control ($6870) – the only other SUV we’ve sampled that can shame the GTS in the bends is a Lamborghini Urus, which is more than double the price. 

Brakes aside, the Cayenne GTS conquers corners in a manner that makes its inherent SUV-ness seem laughable. At times you could be forgiven for thinking you’re driving a hot hatch half its size and weight.

Engage Sport or Sport Plus and the steering, throttle response, and general attitude of the car changes to encourage driving that doesn’t necessarily suit Australia’s speed limits. This is not the sort of car you want to drive if you don’t have all your 12 points. 

The torque delivery mid-gear is ridiculous, and the engineering that has gone into this motor to make it lag free (and this is the lowest state of tune you will find it in a Porsche) feels more refined than what brands like Mercedes-AMG offer with its equivalent 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. 

Overall, you’re getting the Cayenne Turbo powertrain for a significant discount. While it may be down on power and torque, it’s not down on character.

How much does the Porsche Cayenne GTS cost to run?

Porsche offers a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, with a set service fee of $695 for the Cayenne GTS.

You’ll get a longer warranty from Mercedes-AMG, but Porsche is basically obliged by Australian consumer laws to fix your car in years four and five so long as you service it with a Porsche Centre. 

CarExpert’s take on the Porsche Cayenne GTS

It’s hard to fault the Cayenne GTS given what it is – the best way to buy a V8 Porsche. 

Porsche’s Cayenne GTS Coupe and wagon deliver a level of dynamic capability that defies what should be possible from an SUV.

The GTS presents an overall interior and exterior package that makes for one hell of daily. It’s not as ostentatious as you might want from a super-SUV, but if you like to stay under the radar while piloting a genuinely capable sports car head to your Porsche Centre without hesitation.

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OVERALL RATING8.5
Show Breakdown
Cost of Ownership 8.6
Ride Comfort 9.1
Safety 8
Fit for Purpose 9
Handling Dynamics 9
Interior Practicality and Space 8.2
Fuel Efficiency 7.4
Value for Money 8.1
Performance 8.4
Technology Infotainment 9
A$192,500 MRLP
338kW
209g
View full specifications