What is it?
The Cayenne GTS, driven in the UK for the first time following an initial go near the Arctic Circle. As with the Panamera, the GTS badge signifies an even sportier breed of Cayenne, but unlike the hatchback, which continues for now with the old 4.8-litre V8, the SUV gets a lightly fettled version of the new turbocharged 3.6-litre V6 already seen in the S model.
The power increase is modest, the £10k premium paying instead for an enhanced chassis that lowers the ride height by 24mm. That’s as standard, which our test car certainly wasn’t, having received self-leveling air suspension for £2328, Dynamic Chassis Control for £2186, Torque Vectoring Plus for £1011 and ceramic-composite brakes at £5924.
Serious ticking, then, and all contributing to a whopping £94,196 bottom line – £21,673 more than the GTS’s list price and very slightly dearer even than the Cayenne Turbo, a car which gets many of those goodies as standard. The model does come with a slightly different look though, the GTS Design Package including black gloss lettering, side sills, 20in wheels (optional 21s here), a roof spoiler and smoked LED tail-lights.
What’s it like?
In Sweden, our evaluation of the ride and handling was limited to confirming that yes, the GTS goes sideways on snow, and no, it isn’t unduly upset by hitting an occasional frozen bank of the stuff. In England, the reintroduction of friction into the dynamic equation does the car’s reputation no harm at all. Except here it’s that whopping additional spec that makes it difficult to see the wood for the trees.
The experience, it’s fair to say, is consistent with the big-ticket enhancements. Initial turn in, body control and almost certainly lateral grip have all advanced deeper into silly territory, even if the basic Cayenne formula remains fundamentally unchanged.
As such the steering is heavy but encouragingly keen, the chassis is alert and fervently torque-vectored, its body is apparently impervious to what ought to be an inherent handicap and the rear axle is happy to provide throttle-based evidence of its back-end bias.
Thanks to the air springs, the car’s refusal to significantly compromise on rolling refinement is impressive. Even in Comfort mode the GTS is a firmer prospect than the standard model, but that hasn’t resulted in the splintering of the secondary ride that occasionally dulled the Range Rover SVR.
The Porsche suffers from fewer road surface intrusions, and consequently settles into fast road driving with an insulated finesse replicated almost nowhere else at the same hip-point.
However, there’s no getting away from the fact that some of the character – of the sort that the SVR dishes out in flagons – has vanished along with the V8. In every department the GTS responds brawnily to interrogation, except, that is, the throttle, where the retort has reduced from double-barreled to pea shooter.
There’s a button to tweak the six-cylinder sound, of course (the sports exhaust is actually standard,) but that only adds a drone to the distant hum.
The performance on dry roads, too, it must be said, is not gland-troubling. There is no slow breed of Cayenne, and doubtless the GTS has the shove to back up Porsche’s 5.2sec-to-62mph claim, but where its predecessor felt like an air-breathing, slightly bonkers alternative to the Turbo, the latest version seems overly buttoned down.
Should I buy one?
Hard to say, because what we’ve driven here is a particularly long way down the road from where a GTS starts. If money is no object, then it’s fair to say that by ticking practically every available option, you’re going to end up with a very capable Cayenne indeed.
But if your wallet doesn’t flinch at the idea of a £20k premium on the model’s original cost, it’s hard to see why you wouldn’t simply buy the Turbo, which, while slightly more portly, has the sinew-busting pace and presence to go with the silly price tag.
Porsche Cayenne GTS
Location Surrey: On sale Now; Price £72,523; Engine V6, 3604cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 434bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 442lb ft at 1600-5000rpm; Gearbox Eight-speed automatic; Kerb weight 2110kg; Top speed 163mph; 0-62mph 5.2sec; Economy 28.8mpg; CO2/tax band 228g/km, 35%
What is it?