Will the bridge between the mild-mannered Porsche Cayenne S and its fire-breathing Turbo cousin be bridged by the new GTS model?
On the face of it, you’d be forgiven for wondering whether there is a place for a model such as the Cayenne GTS in Porsche’s Cayenne range. Think about it; the frugally minded are catered for by the capable diesel and hybrid models, the V6 offers a bit more grunt while not causing the folks at OPEC to crack open the bubbly, the S is a refined creature that’s as happy scrambling over rough terrain as it is showing a clean pair of heels to most performance cars, while the Turbo and the upcoming S Turbo apex models are the no-compromise options serving up jaw-dropping performance and price tags to match.
It may look like an expansive line-up, but is there a viable gap between the V8 S and the fire-breathing Turbo, and this is where Porsche posts its GTS as a viable span.
Given its task of treading between the subtle S and the more overt Turbo, There’s always potential for a GTS model to stray too far either side of the line. Larger intakes on a revised front apron, LED lights based on those of the Turbo, Black bezelling around the windows and headlamps, more pronounced side skirts, black tinting on the brakelamps and twin tailpipes, 20-inch alloy wheels and a twin-wing roof spoiler – on paper, at least – may not sound too tasteful but the Cayenne GTS carries them off neatly. The cabin is as solid and ergonomically sound as you’d expect and the addition of swathes of Alcantara and supportive GTS sports seats with 8-way electrical adjustment add a touch of sportiness without being too shouty.
The 4,8-litre V8 is based on the unit doing service in the Cayenne S, but has undergone a number of revisions to the camshaft and intake valve lift to liberate 309 kW and 515 N.m of toque (15 kW and 15 N.m up on the S), essentially making it the most powerful naturally aspirated petrol engine in the Cayenne line-up. This unit is coupled with Porsche’s 8-speed Tiptronic transmission and is capable of propelling the GTS from standstill to 100 km/h in 5,7 seconds on the way to a 261 km/h top whack. Porsche even claims that this model’s average fuel consumption figure is only 0,2 L/100 km more than that of the S. To give the GTS some additional aural grunt, Porsche has fitted this unit with a Sound Symposer comprising a pair of resonance channels terminating at the base of the A pillars, through which the exhaust note is channelled. The result is a satisfying burble when left to its own devices and an addictive, hard-edged growl when the sport button is pressed and the accelerator stowed flat.
On the road:
The GTS is one of those cars that remind you just how satisfying a large-displacement naturally aspirated V8 engine can be. Power delivery is linear and the gearbox, with its shortened changes and final drive ratios, drops cogs willingly to keep that rev-happy motor on the boil when pressing on. Our air-suspended test unit managed to rein in body roll to an impressive degree in its sport setting, ensuring that the car felt fantastically planted at high speeds, but its stiffness transmitted larger road scars through the cabin with an audible thud. Switch to comfort, however, and even with its 20-inch rims on low-profile rubber it manages to iron out all but the very worst corrugations. Refinement is generally good, but there is some noticeable tyre noise when the speeds pick up. With the engine’s soundtrack, good levels of feedback and responsiveness from the helm, bags of grip and the ability to inspire confidence when aggressively engaging challenging backroads, you briefly forget that you’re piloting a two-ton SUV. Is it any good off-road? Admittedly our test route didn’t take in any rough stuff, but if you take into consideration the road-biased tyre/rim combination and take a circumspect approach it should prove fairly capable for a performance-oriented SUV.
The GTS manages to balance a good degree of civility with just enough on-demand brutishness to make it broadly appealing. A fiddle on Porsche’s model configurator also reveals that, as an overall package, it even manages to marginally undercut an S with equivalent specification. If you’re looking for something with a bit more aural/visual impact but don’t need the tectonic plate-shifting power of the Turbo, the GTS could well fit the bill.
Model: Porsche Cayenne GTS Tiptronic
Engine: 4,8-litre, V8 petrol
Power: 390 kW at 3 500 r/min
Torque: 515 N.m at 3 600 r/min
0-100 km/h: 5,7 seconds
Fuel consumption: 10,7 L/100 km
CO2: 251 g/km
Top speed: 261 km/h
Price: R983 000 (R1 030 000 with 5 years maintenance plan)
Maintenance plan: 3 years/90 000 km (5 years optional)