What is it?
Our experience of the latest Porsche Cayenne, in all its forms, continues. This time round, in Sweden of all places, it’s the turn of the GTS, the willfully sporty (but not the fastest) version of Porsche’s best-selling model.
For most people, the standard Cayenne is plenty sporty enough; even the diesel-engined variants tend to feel seriously brisk. With the GTS, however, the Porsche engineers assume you’re a special kind of patriarchal head case, and perform a series of tweaks that include a finger’s width worth of lowering and stiffening on the steel suspension (slightly less if you opt for air).
The aim is tighter body control and superior lateral grip. Previously, this racier attitude came with perfectly matched propulsion in the shape of Porsche’s air-breathing V8; a combination that positively radiated performance heft.
Predictably, that engine is now considered as dirty and as outdated as an oil-burning street light and has been replaced with the same turbocharged 3.6-litre V6 which we’ve already experienced in the cheaper Cayenne S.
Except it isn’t quite same because Porsche has tweaked the software code to get an additional 20bhp out of it - 20bhp more, in fact, than the old V8 developed. It does this while emitting around 23g/km CO2 less and managing greater distances between fuel stops.
It also makes the car handily lighter - by around 120kg over the latest Turbo. The GTS also gets the 20-inch RS Spyder alloys, deeper sills, fatter arches and larger air intakes that typically go with the badge.
What's it like?
Inside, mostly thanks to the Alcantara sprayed up the doors, pillars and roof lining, the GTS feels expensively athletic, like wearing a Gore-Tex lined trail shoe. Not covering the steering wheel in the stuff seems like a missed opportunity, however.
Like all Cayennes, it’s as well insulated as a hobbit hole and just as snug. Sweden’s snow-covered roads are not the best place to properly evaluate ride quality, but the suggestion is - despite being quite conspicuously slammed - that Porsche’s current GTS chassis compromise is very well judged indeed.
The V6 engine follows suit. It's responsive, eager, and far quicker than the old V8 was from low revs and is very refined, too. Twinned with the excellent eight-speed Tiptronic, the accumulation of crank speed would almost be syrupy if it weren’t accompanied by such an abundance of torque - 442lb ft from just 1600rpm.
The engine isn’t shy at the top end either, although above 5000rpm, where the torque spirals away, is possibly where an enthusiast might start to pick holes. Its last 1500rpm is a determined, slightly restrained final emptying of the lungs; in the previous GTS, it was more obviously the V8’s area of peak performance.
The speed produced at this point is relative and largely irrelevant - the difference is how you drive the car. Particularly keen drivers no longer have such a compelling reason to sample the engine’s redline, which, if nothing else, makes it that bit harder to differentiate the model from its stablemates.
Should I buy one?
That distinctiveness is clearly critical when you consider the premium the GTS commands over the car that shares its engine. The Cayenne S, only modestly less punchy, is around £12k cheaper.
Obviously there’s the trim and spec levels to consider, but the improved handling characteristics on offer are impossible to judge on snow.