From £47,390
New Cayenne GTS is easily the best-handling SUV on the market. But you can't help thinking, so what?

What is it?

The sportiest Cayenne yet, according to Porsche. The GTS slots between the S and the Turbo in the range, getting a slightly revised version of the normally aspirated V8’s engine and most of the Turbo's visual accoutrements.

Suspension has been lowered and - for the first time in the Cayenne - it's now possible to get steel springs with PASM active dampers, a combination that promises to make this SUV handle better than many one-and-a-half tonne saloons.

What's it like?

As marketing claims go, pitching this kind of SUV as a hardcore driving machine should have 'em rolling in the aisles - but providing you can tune yourself into the sheer improbability of the concept, the GTS is an impressive beast.

The lowered, and slightly stiffened, steel suspension gives it an edge on its air sprung siblings in terms of agility and steering response, although at the cost of a firm ride that can get choppy over rougher road surfaces. Buyers can still opt to pay extra for air suspension and the PDDC adaptive anti-roll system, although that seems to defeat most of the purpose of the chassis revisions.

The revised V8 engine gets direct injection to improve throttle response, and yield an extra 20bhp over the standard "S". Porsche also claims this has improved emissions and fuel economy slightly. Which it has - but only to 18.1 mpg combined, so don't expect any awards from Greenpeace any time soon.

It sounds great, too - the engine putting out some impressively deep-chested harmonics which can be hardened further by switching to "Sport" mode and deploying some acoustic flaps within the exhaust.

The standard six-speed manual gearbox benefits from shorter ratios than the standard Caynenne and shifts cleanly and accurately too, although it needs to be addressed via a very stiff clutch pedal. Most buyers will continue to opt for the six-speed slusher.

Should I buy one?

Seen as a cheaper alternative to the Cayenne Turbo, the GTS makes plenty of sense, sharing most of its more powerful sibling's visual features and offering a slightly more responsive driving experience for a considerable saving.

It's plenty fast enough, too. If you can live with the aggressive image and the enormous fuel bills then the Cayenne GTS wins the slightly pointless accolade of being the best-handling SUV you can buy.

Mike Duff

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Brooklands 9 November 2007

Re: Porsche Cayenne GTS

I've never understood why a prestige car manufacturer famed for making supercars would make this incredibly ugly off roader. Off road, a Range Rover would leave it for dead. As for people who don't use it off road, get a saloon, coupe or estate. It would be faster, better handling, more fuel efficient, just as roomy and no doubt better looking.

Roy Fullee 9 November 2007

Re: Porsche Cayenne GTS

So, Autocar suggest 'so what' if the Porsche Cayenne is the best handling off-roader, even suggesting that it's a pointless excersise to have such a quality in a 4x4. Yet, when it comes to the BMW X5 Autocar revels over this car's handling and is the reason why on many occasions the current and previous model were top of the tree. Just re-affirms many suspicions of BMW bias.....