SPICY RIDE

Swoopy Cayenne blends style, lux­ury and pace — but at a steep price

The Province - - DRIVING - PETER BLEAKNEY

Iknew some­thing was afoot when first view­ing the 2021 Porsche Cayenne Coupe GTS’s head-up dis­play.

Proudly pre­sented in my line of sight as I peered over the Cash­mere Beige Metal­lic hood was a tachome­ter and G-force me­ter — ready to mea­sure my anti-so­cial behaviour in real time. Hmm.

Some will ar­gue a snarling SUV with fast­back body­work and sports car as­pi­ra­tions is noth­ing more than a wacky, rolling con­tra­dic­tion.

But no one can dis­pute the fact that Porsche is aw­fully good at this game — namely kick­ing poor old Isaac New­ton right where he lives when it comes to giv­ing un­likely be­he­moths the moves of a gazelle. Granted, a 2.5-tonne gazelle, in the case of this third-gen­er­a­tion 2021 Cayenne GTS that de­buts in both “reg­u­lar” and Coupe form in the fall of this year. But dang, this thing does han­dle.

This 2021 re­make re­turns to V8 glory with a de­tuned ver­sion of the Cayenne Turbo’s 4.0-L twin-turbo unit that kicks out a healthy 453 horse­power and 457 pound-feet of torque. While this isn’t a huge gain over the old GTS’s turbo V6, with its 434 horse­power and 443 pound-feet of torque, it cer­tainly is an ex­po­nen­tial boot up the emo­tional lad­der.

The V8 sounds the busi­ness, es­pe­cially with this tester’s ex­tra vo­cal Sport Ex­haust II with its cen­tral tailpipes — part of the $10,110 Light­weight Sport Pack­age that also adds car­bon-fi­bre roof and in­te­rior bits, a heated Al­can­tara steer­ing wheel, and 22-inch wheels. Trans­mis­sion du­ties are han­dled by a ZF eight-speed au­to­matic.

So, what gives the Cayenne Coupe GTS its moves? Tra­di­tion­ally, GTS ver­sions of any Porsche — be they sports car, sedan or SUV — have been dubbed the sporti­est. Not the fastest, not the most lux­u­ri­ous, but the it­er­a­tion that puts you clos­est to the pointy end of the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

And gen­er­ally a value propo­si­tion, al­though in this case “value” is en­tirely rel­a­tive.

The 2021 Cayenne GTS runs with three-cham­ber air-sus­pen­sion which sees a 30-mil­lime­tre drop in ride height, and the all-wheeldrive sys­tem gets more rear torque bias than the other Cayennes in the sta­ble.

The Coupe GTS comes stan­dard with the Sport Chrono Pack­age that be­stows launch con­trol, a dash­mounted lap timer, and a steer­ing wheel-mounted ro­tary drive se­lec­tor with Nor­mal, Sport, Sport Plus and In­di­vid­ual set­tings. Fur­ther, this tester raids the op­tion list for more go-fast bits: the 48-volt ac­tive PDCC Sport anti-roll bars and torque vec­tor­ing ($4,090), and rear-axle steer­ing ($1,840).

It’s Porsche’s mas­ter­ful blending of all this tech that gives the GTS its un­canny ath­leti­cism. Fac­tor in the alert and tac­tile steer­ing, tire­less brakes, and that eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion that works with nearly the brains and alacrity of Porsche’s ex­cel­lent PDK twin-clutch unit, and you’ve got a fam­ily hauler that will have your kids and dog puk­ing faster than you can say Nür­bur­gring Nord­schleife. The 2021 Cayenne Coupe comes across as hand­some and co­he­sive — not the vic­tim of some un­for­tu­nate surgery as some com­peti­tors are wont to do. Be­ing a GTS, it gets blacked-out trim, and this new-for-2021 Cash­mere Beige Metal­lic is lovely.

In­side we see op­tional seats trimmed in uber-cool hound­stooth fab­ric. They are supremely com­fort­able and sup­port­ive, but adopt­ing this retro vibe re­quires sac­ri­fic­ing seat ven­ti­la­tion. Con­so­la­tion can be found in the truly spec­tac­u­lar $7,980 Burmester au­dio sys­tem whose rich, well bal­anced, and as­tound­ingly clear sound nearly jus­ti­fies the price tag.

Ah, the price. Didn’t I say ear­lier that Porsche’s GTS mod­els were a value propo­si­tion? The 2021 Porsche Cayenne Coupe GTS starts at $126,500, putting it right be­tween the V6-pow­ered Cayenne S and bal­lis­tic Cayenne Turbo. How­ever, this Ger­man-spec tester that is do­ing press du­ties in Canada runs a heady $180,495 be­fore freight and taxes.

While that has us mere mor­tals up in arms, those who fre­quent Porsche deal­ers with real in­tent to buy ap­par­ently aren’t both­ered by the fact they still have to shell out for heated seat­ing, am­bi­ent light­ing, adap­tive cruise con­trol, prox­im­ity key en­try, lane-change as­sist, auto-dim­ming mir­rors, and so on.

Be­side the eye-wa­ter­ing price, there’s not much to com­plain about here. Yes, the ride is pretty stiff-legged on the blighted Toronto roads even in Nor­mal mode — the stan­dard 21-inch wheels would prob­a­bly help here — but get past that and this swoopy ute blends style, lux­ury, out­stand­ing build qual­ity, pace and pure driv­ing plea­sure like no other.

And now that it belts out a V8 sym­phony, the Cayenne Coupe GTS backs up all that good­ness with some spine-tin­gling emo­tion.

— PETER BLEAKNEY/DRIV­ING

While many ve­hi­cles of its ilk can get messy when pushed, the 2021 Porsche Cayenne Coupe GTS gets up on its toes and asks for more.

PHO­TOS: PETER BLEAKNEY/DRIV­ING

The Cayenne Coupe GTS re­turns to V8 glory with a 4.0-L twin-turbo unit that kicks out 453 horse­power and 457 pound-feet of torque.

The dis­play in the Porsche Cayenne Coupe GTS in­cludes a G-force me­ter.

PHO­TOS PETER BLEAKNEY/DRIV­ING

The 2021 Porsche Cayenne Coupe GTS starts at $126,500, putting it right be­tween the V6-pow­ered Cayenne S and bal­lis­tic Cayenne Turbo.

Op­tional seats trimmed in uber-cool hound­stooth fab­ric are supremely com­fort­able.

The Cayenne Coupe GTS is more than a pretty face — it also has plenty of cargo space.

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