What is it?
The Cayenne may already be one of the most sporting of all SUVs, but, Porsche being Porsche, there’s always room for an even more driver-orientated version, right? The new GTS version of the current Cayenne – driven for the first time on British roads – revives a formula that proved popular in the previous generation, slotting into the line-up between the standard petrol V8 S and the ballistic Turbo models with a more focused chassis set-up that promises to make it the best of the lot to drive.
With a body kit that includes the Turbo’s big-intake front bumper and a sizeable roof spoiler, as well as blacked-out exterior trim, the GTS is as close to handsome looking as a Cayenne is ever likely to get, and unmistakably a Porsche when specified in a bright exterior colour with black wheels. Inside, the cabin is covered in leather and Alcantara with contrasting stitching, including the superb sports front seats, while the rear bench is shaped to seat two rather than three.
What is it like?
With the regular normally aspirated 4.8-litre V8 uprated from 394bhp to 414bhp and the drivetrain sharpened up via a quicker-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox and shorter final drive ratios, the GTS delivers plentiful performance in a crisply responsive way, even though on paper it’s barely any quicker than the Diesel S model and well short of the Turbo. It can feel a little hyperactive at low speeds and in kickdown when left in Drive, but it responds well to shifting gears manually via the steering wheel paddles. The naturally aspirated V8 also sounds lovely in the top half of its rev range.
More important, though, is the way the GTS handles and the level of interaction that exists between man and machine. With a lower ride height (by 20mm when air suspension is fitted) and assisted by PDCC active anti-roll bars and torque vectoring (both must-have options on this model, surely), the GTS is even more physics-defying than Cayennes usually are. Its agility is quite remarkable for a two-tonne SUV, and there’s bountiful feel through the perfectly weighted steering and sporty yet comfortable seats.
On UK roads the ride can be a bit jiggly with the PASM adaptive suspension in Sport mode and strangely wobbly in Comfort, but in Normal the balance of body control versus ride comfort is just right. Crucially, this means passengers don’t have to suffer in any way for the GTS’s extra driver appeal. In fact, they’re very well catered for in a handsome and spacious (albeit button-littered) cabin.
Should I buy one?
For the ultimate in crazy-fast SUVS, the 493bhp Cayenne Turbo is still the go-to model, but otherwise the £20k cheaper GTS is probably the pick of the current range, especially if you’d secretly rather be driving a 911. Like Porsche’s sports cars, it gets the balance between driver appeal and usability spot on.
Porsche Cayenne GTS
Price £67,147; 0-62mph 5.7sec; Top speed 162mph; Economy 26.4mpg (combined); CO2 251g/km; Kerb weight 2065kg; Engine V8, 4806cc, petrol; Power 414bhp at 6500rpm; Torque 380lb ft at 3500rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic