What is it?
The Porsche Cayenne GTS. One of eight drivetrain options in the large SUV range, it sits below the Turbo and above the S. Peaking at 414bhp, it’s the most powerful normally aspirated Cayenne available, and with its high-revving V8 engine, something of an old-school treat in the performance 4x4 sector. It’s priced from £68,117.
The 4.8-litre V8 engine is from the Cayenne S, but gains 20bhp and 12lb ft in the GTS thanks to altered inlet valve timing and a revised ECU. Other changes include a lower final drive ratio, quicker gearchanges for the eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic gearbox, a sports exhaust, lower suspension (25mm down on the Cayenne S for ‘steel’ sprung versions and 20mm lower if optioned with PASM suspension management) and wider wheels and tyres all round, giving the car a 17mm wider track than the Cayenne S.
The GTS shares the same exterior looks as the range topping Cayenne Turbo, with its larger cooling air intakes in the front air-dam and twin blade spoiler at the rear. Inside, there are exclusive GTS sports seats, Alcantara trim and individually trimmed seats in the rear compartment - similar spec highlights to the Porsche Panamera GTS.
What’s it like to drive?
Considering it’s a 2065kg SUV it’s very good. There’s never any escape from your perception of its size, height and mass, but the first time you turn quickly into a corner, the immediacy of its response to your steering input may surprise. It grips gamely and feels almost like a portly hot hatchback. The only hindrance to using British back roads with seriously indecent pace will be your awareness of just how wide you are when things start to narrow.
Conventional steel springs are standard, but we’ve only ever been given test cars fitted with the optional air-suspension (PASM), which offers great ride quality in ‘Comfort’ as well as several different ride heights, depending on what speed you’re travelling at and whether ‘Sport’ has been selected. With the lowest suspension and sportiest suspension setting things can be a little shaky over particularly rutted roads (especially with the rather silly 21in SportDesign alloy wheels optioned on our test car), but it’s likely nothing that will particularly upset someone who had deliberately chosen a GTS over a more conventional Cayenne. Our car also has Porsche’s anti-roll system (PDCC), which does a great job of keeping the car roll-free through corners and seems to be an option well worth having.
The engine is something of a peach, its slightly immature but excellent soundtrack and high-rev power delivery really letting the Cayenne stand out amongst its turbocharged rivals from the BMW M Division and Mercedes’ AMG range. Our only reservation is the GTS lacks the effortless torque delivery of the Turbo model, so you really need to rev its V8 engine to make the sort of progress the impressive performance claims seem to promise (0-62mph in 5.7sec and 0-100mph in 13.3sec) while there isn’t an instant surge when you simply want to utilise kickdown for a brisk overtake. The gearbox can shoulder some of the blame here, however; an automatic rather than Porsche’s impressive PDK twin-clutch transmission, it can be reluctant when you go for manual downshifts and a little dim-witted when you leave it to its own devices in Drive.
Porsche claims average fuel consumption of 26.4mpg; in mixed driving we’ve had the trip computer indicating around 24mpg. While hardly in keeping with today’s increasingly eco-consious car market, it’s an impressive figure for the combination of power, weight and size. That the 542bhp 911 Turbo S we’ve had on test at the same time matches this figure while being driven much harder shows how quickly Porsche’s tech is evolving…
How does it compare?
The new supercharged Range Rover Sport is a very impressive thing, but it’s much heavier than the Porsche Cayenne GTS as well as being around £13,000 more expensive in basic trim. The British product is a more refined car, and may impress more as an all rounder, but if that’s your concern than a diesel Cayenne is surely ideal. For thrills in this sector, the GTS is king, with only the Mercedes ML63 AMG coming close to matching it.
Another big advantage the Porsche has is its proper performance road tyres (optional Michelin 295/35 R21 Pilot Sports on our car). This makes a huge difference to the car’s dynamics, as well as top speed (162mph), which no longer has to be limited because of semi off-road tyres.
Anything else I need to know?
Perhaps the Cayenne’s toughest test will come from within its own family. The newly launched Porsche Macan is a smaller take on the sporty SUV and for those simply wanting family car practicality, imposing size and a supercar badge it could do the job without the Cayenne’s slightly lumbering size. There are only six-cylinder engine options for now, but it could be a more fun to drive option. We’ll report back once we’ve sampled it in the UK.