First drive review: 2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS delivers on the street and track

by admin July 1, 2020 at 3:32 am

For most automakers, SUVs are boxes on wheels, family-friendly mobile cargo carriers that excel at trips to Home Depot far more than laps around a racetrack. Porsche wants it both ways. The company dictates that its SUVs perform on a racetrack and for daily use. And among Porsche SUVs, the best performer is the new 2021 Cayenne GTS.

Very few Cayenne buyers will ever drive their vehicles on a racetrack, but that doesn’t deter Porsche from adding the capability. Maurice van de Weerd, Porsche’s director of driving dynamics for front-engine vehicles, offered advice for 2021 Cayenne GTS buyers: “I only can say they should do it. It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s not any problem for the car.”

He’s right. Cayenne GTS buyers should track their SUVs—or at least revel in the incredible ability their vehicles possess.

2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS

2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS

2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS

2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS

2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS

2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS

The V-8 returns

Given the travel restrictions brought about by the coronavirus, I’m not on a racetrack or even a canyon road. I’ve driven from Chicago to Novi, Michigan, to try Porsche’s sportiest SUV. When in Michigan, go to Hell.

Perched atop the optional, heavily bolstered 18-way power-adjustable driver’s seat in this Carmine Red 2021 Cayenne GTS, I’m tempted to treat the road like my own personal racetrack as I head to Hell. Situated in lake country north and east of Ann Arbor, Hell boasts some of the best open and twisty roads in Southeastern Michigan.

Two controllers taunt me with the promise of performance. The first is the drive mode selector with its taut Sport and Sport+ modes. The other is the throttle pedal, which taps into a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 that’s less powerful but more responsive than the version found in the Cayenne Turbo.

Here, Porsche forces 11.6 psi of boost down the V-8’s throat rather than 21.8 psi in the Cayenne Turbo. As a result, the GTS makes 453 horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torque instead of 541 hp and 567 lb-ft. That’s still enough to launch this mid-size SUV from 0-60 mph in a sports car-like 4.2 seconds when ordered with the Sport Chrono package that adds a Sport+ mode, a digital and analog lap timer on the dash, and launch control. That’s a half-second slower than the supercar-like 3.7 seconds of the Cayenne Turbo, but four-tenths of a second quicker than the twin-turbo V-6-powered Cayenne S and six-tenths quicker than the last, twin-turbo V-6-powered Cayenne GTS.

Without as much power to push to the wheels, the Cayenne GTS doesn’t need as hefty an 8-speed automatic transmission as the Cayenne Turbo. With a lighter gearbox, the GTS’s power arrives quicker, though not with the cacophony of the first V-8-powered Cayenne GTS from the 2008-2014 model years.

That first 405-hp 4.8-liter V-8 barked and wailed and cackled as it worked. This one speaks softer but carries a bigger stick. It rumbles and burbles during heavy acceleration through its standard sport exhaust, especially in Sport and Sport+ modes, and it occasionally sends a crackle or pop out of the exhaust between gears, but it fades into the background otherwise. Power comes on lower in the rev range with full torque available from 1,800 to 4,500 rpm. Faster and quieter, the 2021 Cayenne GTS is a better blend of performance and everyday drivability.

The Sport modes make the throttle touchier and the transmission hold gears longer. No matter the mode, though, stabbing the throttle snaps my head back and vaults the Cayenne’s near-5,000 pounds of metal, rubber, and hubris forward. Those 4.2-second bursts require using the GTS’s launch mode, which is activated by turning off traction control, choosing Sport+ mode, mashing the brake and the throttle, and grinning from ear to ear as the V-8 does its work.

The Cayenne’s standard all-wheel-drive system and set of wide, staggered tires provide the grip during those launches. In the Cayenne GTS, Porsche’s all-wheel-drive system is tuned to send more power to the rear wheels, but about 50% of it goes to the front during a hard launch. The tires on my tester are optional summer-performance Yokohama Advan Sports, 285/35R22 up front and 315/30R22 out back, and they transfer the power to forward momentum rather than losing it in wheel spin.

Porsche also adds standard torque vectoring, mechanical and brake-based, to send the power to the outside rear wheel for sharper cornering. That teams with a variety of suspension measures to combat the size and 4,954-pound curb weight of the Cayenne GTS.

In the U.S., the Cayenne GTS comes standard with a three-chamber air suspension and adjustable dampers. It sits 1.2 inches lower than the Cayenne S model, and the Sport and Sport+ modes lower it another four-tenths of an inch. That creates a lower center of gravity for a flatter ride, and buyers can add active anti-roll bars for an even flatter attitude and rear-axle steering for improved agility.

My tester has all the performance goodies: rear-axle steering ($1,620), active anti-roll bars ($3,590), and carbon-ceramic brakes ($9,070).

2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS

2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS

Fun in Hell

I arrive in Hell and put all those systems to the test on the twisty and undulating Patterson Lake Road. I engage Sport+ mode, and the first quick turn reveals the Cayenne GTS’s sports car-quick responses. The front end bites down, turns in sharply, and carves a consistent line. The direct steering provides excellent feedback and requires few corrections on the freeway despite its quick responses.

The rear end follows willingly, the turning radius is sharper due to the rear-axle steering in turns slower than 49 mph, and the body stays defiantly flat thanks to those dynamic anti-roll bars. In Sport+ mode, the body sits at its lowest point, 6.4 inches off the ground, but that’s still about an inch taller than a sport sedan, so there is some lean. The Cayenne GTS feels like a sport sedan except everything happens a little higher off the ground.

As the road surface becomes uneven so does the ride. Sport+ mode creates too much head toss for comfort, so I switch back to Normal mode when the short twisties turn into long sweepers. The Cayenne GTS still reacts with urgency and control, but it doesn’t feel as high-strung.

In any mode, the massive carbon-ceramic brakes (17.3-inch rotors with 10-piston calipers up front, 16.1-inch rotors with 4-piston calipers in the rear) provide more stopping force than I’d need anywhere short of reaching this family hauler’s 168-mph top speed. The standard 6-piston, 15.4-inch front and 4-piston, 14.1-inch rear brakes will do the trick for the vast majority of buyers.

2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS

2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS

2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS

2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS

2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS

2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS

The interior is as sporty and high-end as the performance. The optional 18-way power-adjustable seats provide excellent support for long drives and through corners—aided by synthetic suede inserts—but the base seats have just as much bolstering. My test car has far too many options, almost $60,000 worth—and a couple of them add more synthetic suede, which plays well with the GTS’s leather and dark-tinted aluminum trim.

Despite my tester’s $167,300 sticker price, the Cayenne GTS is a bargain among Cayennes. It starts at a lofty $108,650, but its equipment represents a $4,670 discount over a similarly equipped Cayenne S model, and that doesn’t take into account the more powerful engine, larger standard rear brakes, and sportier suspension tuning.

2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS

2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS

Those additional standard features include the body color and gloss black exterior bits of the Sport Design package, a sport exhaust system, adaptive headlights that point into turns, RS Spyder matte black wheels, the air suspension, the adaptive and adjustable dampers, synthetic suede and dark brushed aluminum interior trim, and eight-way sport seats.

The 2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS’s spacious rear seat and 27.2-cubic foot cargo area (60.3 cubes with the rear seats folded down) make it a good choice for a run to the big box hardware store. Its willing V-8 and suspension and brake upgrades give it racetrack capability unmatched even in the Porsche lineup. And its bundle of standard equipment represents a discount in Porsche’s extensive options list. Cayenne GTS buyers really can have it both ways, and at a discount, too.

Source link

more news from the blog

Add Comment