Test Drive Review: 2016 Porsche Cayenne GTS

Test Car Information

2016 Porsche Cayenne GTS
3.6L twin-turbo V6, 440 hp @ 6,000 RPM, 443 lb-ft @ 1,600-5,000 rpm
8-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive
Options: Ventilation Front Seats, ParkAssist with Surround View, Adaptive Sport Seats, Premium Package Plus, Infotainment Package, Sport Chrono Package, 21″ SportEdition Wheels
MSRP as tested: $109,195 (including $995 S&H charge)


For the Porsche Cayenne GTS, regardless of the price, consumers will probably be divided into two groups: the one who loves it and the one who hates it.

People who love it may praise its sports-car style handling, and it can sit 5 guys with a relatively large cargo space; people who hate it may argue it is pointless for a SUV to have a stiff ride, their reason is: if you really want the sports car handling, why not just directly get the 911 or Panamera?

Of course there is no definitive answer for this, each side has its own merit. Here let me share with you my view on this sports SUV.


Despite using a boxy style (such as the Cadillac Escalade), Porsche follows its own design language (its heritage) to use an egg-shaped exterior. Whether it is good or not depends on your personal taste. From the outside you won’t find anything on the Cayenne that shows superior build/assembling quality than other mainstream luxury brands. From my point of view, people buy Porsche vehicles not mainly for its look.


Most of the interior panels are covered with leather, which should be considered a “necessary” or “minimum requirement” due to its 6-digit price tag.

The interior space is reasonable and practical for a mid-size SUV. This is one of the major reasons that the Cayenne is well received in the market.

There are lots of buttons on the dash and center console, but it is not complicated and quite easy to use. The location of different control is convenient, but my major complaint is: the display quality of the touch screen LCD on this SUV is so poor, to the extent that it reminds me of computer monitors 20 years ago.


The same as the Cayenne S, the 2016 GTS trim is also equipped with Porsche’s own 3.6L twin-turbo V6 engine (not the 4.8L V8 in the pre-2014 GTS). Unlike many V6s we have seen in modern cars, this 3.6L V6 is using the 90-degree cylinder bank angle design, which indicates it is derived from the firm’s 4.8L V8 engine.

Unlike the common 60-degree V6s, the 90-degree design requires the use of an extra balance shaft due to heavy vibrations caused by uneven firing. However, the benefit of using the 90-degree V6 is lower center of gravity of the engine, which generally speaking improves the vehicle’s handling.

Pumping out 440hp from the 3.6L displacement needs a certain amount of boost, and you can definitely feel the turbo lag when launch from a standstill – the Cayenne feels heavy and thus reluctant to accelerate hard enough; but after around 1 – 2 seconds the engine suddenly comes to life and the thrust will try to pin you in the seat. The best way to experience the Cayenne GTS’s power is to keep the engine revving and maintain the load on it.

The 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission is in fact sourced from Aisin, you can see its cousins being used on various Lexus models such as the IS350/GS350/LS460/RC350/RC-F/GS-F. The tuning of the shifting logic is different than on the Lexus cars. The Cayenne is more willing to downshift, and in lower gears it feels more like a double-clutch transmission. When it shifts in the 1st and 2nd gears, the jerk is evident and sometimes harsh (even in non-sport mode). This is a typical sports car feel, whether you like it or not depends on your purpose of purchasing a SUV. However when your speed is up and the transmission is in higher gears, you can barely tell when it is shifting.

Chassis and Handling

No doubt the handling is good.

The Cayenne GTS has a rather stiff suspension, almost all the imperfections on the road will be transmitted into the cabin. There is little body roll when cornering thanks to the stiff suspension (and with the help of the PDCC – Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control); the tire sticks to the road like a magnetic, provides sufficient confidence to the driver. But please note that your passenger may not feel comfortable when you are driving the GTS on a bumpy road: too many jarring and shaking due to the stiff tuned sports suspension.

The Cayenne GTS has a relatively small steering ratio (15.9:1), so the steering response is quick and sensitive. However, this reduces the “relaxing” factor when you are cruising on highway: you need to hold the steering wheel tight – a small turn on the steering wheel will make your Cayenne deviate from the lane. Again, this is a typical sports car style, you may want to thoroughly test drive it to see whether you prefer this or not.

The braking is good and with confidence. Due to the stiff suspension, there is little nose-dive after you applying the brake and come to a complete stop.

Something need Improvement

1. The Cayenne GTS has a button on the console to select sports exhaust sound mode. However even when it is disabled, the exhaust is still too noisy. The sound frequency is somewhat more close to the infrasonic wave range, makes it quite annoying when sitting in the cabin for a long road trip. It will be good if Porsche can make it quieter when the sports exhaust sound mode is disabled;

2. When the transmission is in “D” mode and the vehicle is stopped, there is lots of vibration from the running engine transmitted to the steering wheel – you can’t see it but you will definitely feel it if you put your hand on the steering wheel;

3. Head-up-display (HUD) is unavailable on the Cayenne, and this is in fact the case for all Porsche vehicles. It looks like Porsche does not believe in this technology, and they think its customers also agree on this too. Obviously this does not make any sense at all, and check out forum discussions on the interenet, you will see lots of consumers do want the HUD feature on their Porsche.


The Cayenne GTS is in fact a sports car dressed like a SUV, it has its own character. Its potential customer is someone who wants to buy a sports car and also has sufficient interior space to transport people/luggage when the situation dictates.

It has good handling and performance; despite its expensive price tag, some NVH issues still need to be addressed to increase its refinement level as a luxury vehicle.

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