2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS review: Heck yeah, the V8’s back

Nothing like carmine on a bright day.


Porsche produces some of the best six-cylinder engines in the world, but there is nothing that can replace the sound and fury of a smashing V8. That’s why I’m thrilled with the 2021 Cayenne GTS, ditching its old V6 for one hell of a twin-turbo V8. Does the overall GTS package change? Not really and that’s okay. The V8 simply adds a lot of character, enhancing the appeal of this high-performance SUV.

Like it

  • Powerful V8 with lots of character
  • One of the most manageable SUVs around
  • Comfortable ride
  • Great infotainment technology

I do not like

  • Driver assistance options are chargeable
  • Less interior space than some competitors

The 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 from the GTS is the same as you’ll find in the rootin’-tootin ‘ Cayenne turbo, weakened in this application to produce 453 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 457 Nm of torque at 1,800 rpm. That’s 13 horsepower and 15 lb-ft increases over the old GTS’s V6, but this small increase in power doesn’t tell the whole story.

Instead, consider the V8’s hearty roar upon startup settling into a low hum. The standard sports exhaust amplifies this robust soundtrack, and digging into the throttle is like an on / off switch to the loud and proud song of the V8. Use launch control – part of the $ 1,130 Sport Chrono package – and the Cayenne GTS will hit 60 mph in 4.2 seconds to hit a top speed of 168 mph. That’s 0.6 seconds faster than the acceleration time of the old GTS, as well as a 5 mph v-max boost, if that’s a boast you’re into. As with every Cayenne, all-wheel drive is standard, as is the eight-speed automatic transmission. If you were hoping that the V8 would also mark the return of the Cayenne manual gearbox, I’m afraid you are SOL.

In addition to the V8 and sports exhaust, the Cayenne GTS has a standard adaptive air suspension with a 30mm lower ride height and Porsche’s torque vectoring technology. In addition to these, my Carmine Red test car has a few other useful upgrades, including rear axle steering ($ 1,620) and Porsche’s Dynamic Chassis Control shock absorbers ($ 3,590).

Each Cayenne is a peach to ride, but the GTS is definitely the best of the bunch. The steering is light, direct and far more communicative than other sporty SUVs, and with the extra rear axle assistance, the GTS is far more adept at canyon carving than you might expect. Adaptive chassis technology keeps the Cayenne crouched and planted in tight corners, with almost no roll in its Sport and Sport Plus drive modes. You can push this Cayenne like you would a 911 and it’s more than happy to play along.

The V8 from the GTS produces 453 horsepower.


Upgrade to Comfort, however, and the ride is definitely luxurious, even with 21-inch wheels and summer tires. Highway expansion joints are shipped conveniently and the GTS travels with luxurious solidity. This SUV has a great dynamic breadth, capable of providing the right comfort and compliance when out and about in the city, but turns into absolute blast when the road gets winding. Compared to other sporty SUVs, the Cayenne GTS is better on both ends of this spectrum on the road.

Porsche offers a number of driver assistance technologies that make life a little easier, although, as usual, most good things cost more. My Cayenne GTS tester plays for $ 130,250 including $ 1,350 for the destination, but it lacks lane maintenance assistance and adaptive cruise control. The surround camera system also represents $ 1,200 of that price as tested. On the other hand, this a la carte options system means that you will not pay for technologies that you will never use and which are bundled into other option packages. Still, the fact that a six-figure luxury SUV doesn’t have some of these standard features is pretty absurd.

The only other drawback, to no one’s surprise, is the fuel economy. The EPA rates the 2021 Cayenne GTS at 15mpg in city, 19mpg on the highway, and 17mpg combined, and if you drive this SUV the way it should be driven, you’ll regularly see numbers in low to mid-teens. If efficiency is a priority, perhaps the Cayenne E-Hybrid it’s more your jam.

The interior of the GTS is as beautiful as any other Cayenne.


A standard Sport Design package is part of the Cayenne GTS treatment, with 21-inch black wheels, unique bumpers, adaptive LED lighting and aluminum interior trim. Porsche isn’t one to limit customization options, of course, so feel free to peruse the 14 21- and 22-inch wheel options available, as well as the 11 exterior colors and 11 interior schemes. Do you want a custom color? Feel free to choose from the extensive Porsche paint catalog – for an additional $ 11,430, of course.

Creature comfort and on-board technology match what you get in other Cayenne, with Porsche Communication Management infotainment software housed in a crisp and responsive 12.3-inch touchscreen. No, this is not the PCM updated it’s slowly making its way into new Porsches, so that means Android Auto is not supported yet. Apple CarPlay it is, thank goodness, and wirelessly.

The Cayenne’s sport seats offer plenty of support and are super comfortable for longer journeys, and a $ 2,970 GTS interior package adds contrast stitching and chalk or carmine red seat belts. Driver and passenger won’t complain about the lack of head or leg room, even if the rear seat isn’t as roomy as other sporty luxury SUVs. Ditto the hold which, with up to 60.3 cubic feet of space, falls behind some of the Cayenne’s competitors.

The Cayenne GTS is one of the most driven SUVs around.


If you are much more interested in function than form, Porsche offers the Cayenne GTS in the trendy crossover-coupe form, with a faster roofline and less interior space – and a $ 2,700 price increase. Opting for the Cayenne GTS Coupé unlocks the option of totally rad houndstooth seat fabric, although it requires the addition of a $ 8,670 lightweight Sport package, which adds carbon fiber interior trim, a carbon fiber roof , 22-inch wheels and central exhaust. I love those houndstooth seats, but damn, that’s a lot of money.

No matter how you cut it, the Cayenne GTS isn’t exactly a budget proposition, starting at $ 110,350 including $ 1,350 for the destination. You’ll pay slightly less for a 600hp BMW X5 M, albeit 603hp Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S it actually costs more. Those high-performance SUVs are certainly better equipped to fight a Cayenne Turbo, although the GTS matches them in price. And while the Bimmer and Merc offer higher performance and faster acceleration times, the Cayenne is both more comfortable and more rewarding to drive.

Furthermore, the GTS stands out as the true star of the Cayenne range, with arguably the best balance between performance and comfort. Plus, it costs $ 20,900 less than a Cayenne Turbo, while still delivering the same excitement and character that comes only from a sweet V8 engine.

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