The coupe-SUV will not appeal to everyone.
Things we like
- Return of the V8!
- Benchmark SUV dynamics
- Comfortable, quality interior
Not so much
- Looks an acquired taste
- Options can swell price significantly
- Too heavy for ultimate thrills
Remember when Porsche offered just two models? Ho, what simple times they were. These days manufacturers, particularly those of a premium persuasion, scramble to fill every available niche, which leads to curious creations like the Cayenne GTS Coupe.
It’s basically a sportier version of the Cayenne GTS wagon, which itself is the sportiest version of the Cayenne, which are all sporty but not as sporty, and it uses the Turbo’s twin-turbo V8 engine but without enough power to classify as a true Turbo. Clear?
Probably not, so in layman’s terms Porsche’s GTS models are pitched as the connoisseur’s choice, for those who value driving engagement above all else and who aren’t seduced by raw power. Of course, the concept of a purist’s SUV raises its own philosophical arguments.
Nevertheless, let’s start with how the Coupe differs from the regular Cayenne GTS. With your sensible hat on, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. At $198,200 before on-roads it’s $5300 more expensive (though does have more standard equipment such as Sport Chrono and a panoramic glass roof), is less practical – 592/1507L of luggage seats up/down versus 772/1708L – and is actually 30kg heavier.
In size it’s 10mm longer, 12mm wider and 20mm lower than the wagon courtesy of its flatter A-pillars and windscreen, so its weight distribution and centre of gravity are likely marginally altered, but mechanically the two are otherwise identical bar the Coupe’s centrally-mounted exhausts and extra 18mm of rear track.
A quick word on specifications. The Cayenne GTS Coupe is well-equipped as standard, with 21-inch RS Spyder design wheels, dynamic LED headlights, front seat heating, a 90-litre fuel tank, adaptive air suspension, privacy glass, digital radio, Bose stereo system, head-up display, lane-change assist and surround-view camera all included.
The big news with the latest Cayenne GTS is the return of a V8 engine
It’s easy to send that basic price skyrocketing, though, our lightly optioned test car listed as $214,970RRP thanks to Carmine Red paint ($5000), the GTS interior package in Carmine Red ($4550), tinted headlights ($2220), 18-way adjustable seats ($800) and more.
Differentiating the GTS is a smorgasbord of black exterior highlights including the front air intakes, side window trim, exhaust pipes and Porsche badging at the rear, while the tail-lights are also tinted and the Coupe scores a snazzy roof spoiler.
The big news with the latest GTS is the return of an eight-cylinder engine. Tightening emissions regulations forced the switch from a snarling 4.8-litre naturally aspirated V8 to a 3.6-litre twin-turbo V6 that had plenty of grunt (324kW/600Nm) but little character.
Now under the bonnet is a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 that lives in a wide variety of high-end Volkswagen Group products in various states of tune. In the Cayenne GTS, it produces 338kW from 6000-6500rpm and 620Nm from 1800-4500rpm.
This is substantially less than some of its rivals, which smash way through the 400kW barrier, but it doesn’t handicap the Porsche by the margin you might expect. The official claim is 4.5sec from 0-100km/h – an impressive 0.6sec quicker than its predecessor – but we managed 4.37sec, backed up by a 12.65sec quarter mile at 175.6km/h.
Though certainly adequate for a vehicle this size, those aren’t ground-breaking numbers in this day and age. But on the road, the GTS feels more than fast enough. In fact, driving it back-to-back with those more powerful rivals it’s difficult to really notice much of a difference in the way it belts down a road.
Certainly the noise helps take your mind off any pace deficiency, a dirty, aggressive note from the standard sports exhausts that sounds roughly 6485 times better than the previous V6 and plays a pivotal role in the GTS’s desirability. Best of all is the vicious crack on full-throttle upshifts.
There are faster SUVs, for sure, including in Porsche’s own range, but the extra grunt benefits bragging rights above all.
If anything, it’s the V8’s relatively low rev ceiling – the fun’s over by about 6000rpm – that’s an issue than the acceleration per se. While the gearbox is a conventional torque converter automatic rather than a dual-clutch, there are no qualms with the shift speed and the upside is much smoother urban behaviour.
Another ace in the Cayenne GTS’s hand is its dynamics. As standard it includes Porsche torque vectoring, which can distribute power left and right between the rear wheels, as well as electronically controlled centre and rear diffs.
In addition there’s plenty of rubber on the road, the tyres measuring 285/40 front and 315/35 rear, while braking is taken care of pizza-sized 390mm front discs and six-piston calipers, with 358mm rear discs and four-piston calipers offering able assistance.
It’s simply not possible for the Cayenne GTS Coupe to overcome its 2175kg kerb weight, but golly it does its best to disguise it.
If you really want to go the whole hog you can option roll-cancelling active anti-roll bars and agility-enhancing rear-wheel steering but our test car has neither and nor does it need them.
Accurate, consistent steering controls an obedient front end and the all-wheel-drive system does a remarkable job of sending the power where it’s needed most, though it’s only too keen to send plenty of it rearward for throttle-steer histrionics. Wonderful.
Like all Porsches, it has that knack of feeling organic and natural to drive, a characteristic that encourages driver confidence.
Personally, I think the wagon is the looker over the Coupe but you can make up your own mind on that. While the sloping roofline does reduce its practicality, the boot is still voluminous and entry to the rear seats is no problem whatsoever.
Once inside, you’ll find heaps of room and the ability to seat five, with the middle passenger not having the terrible time you might expect.
Up front it continues to impress. The seats are quite firm but that feels in tune with the car’s personality, as does the fact that there’s more Alcantara than an over-stocked Alcantara factory (but crucially, not on the steering wheel, well done Porsche).
Everything that isn’t Alcantara is leather and it’s just a lovely place to be – it feels like a quality product.
Porsche’s model proliferation may know no bounds these days and a 2.2-tonne twin-turbo coupe-SUV might be a far cry from the old 911-or-Boxster days but all these new models still retain traditional Porsche values: quality engineering with a strong focus on the driving experience.
The Cayenne GTS Coupe will be an acquired taste but the reintroduction of eight cylinders, in addition to its benchmark dynamics and quality cabin, make it a strong contender for the pick of Porsche’s SUV range.
Porsche Cayenne GTS Coupe specifications
- Body: 5-door, 5-seat SUV
- Drive: all-wheel
- Engine: 3996cc V8, DOHC, 32v, twin-turbo
- Bore/stroke: 86.0 x 86.0mm
- Compression: 10.1:1
- Power: 338kW @ 6000-6500rpm
- Torque: 620Nm @ 1800-4500rpm
- 0-100km/h: 4.37sec (tested)
- Fuel consumption: 11.4L/100km (claimed/combined)
- Top Speed: 270km/h (claimed)
- Weight: 2175kg
- Power/weight: 155kW/tonne
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Suspension: multi-links, air springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar (f/r)
- L/W/H: 4939/1995/1656mm
- Wheelbase: 2895mm
- Tracks: 1682/1683mm
- Steering: electrically assisted rack-and-pinion
- Brakes: 390mm ventilated discs, 6-piston calipers (f); 358mm ventilated discs, 4-piston calipers (r)
- Wheels: 21 x 9.5-inch (f); 21 x 11.0-inch (r)
- Tyres: 285/40 ZR 21 (f); 315/35 ZR 21 (r) Pirelli P Zero
- Price: $198,200 (RRP)