SOME cars have it. Others, sadly, don’t. It’s called overtaking presence, and the lack of it can lead to huge frustration in the fast lane. And then there are those cars whose path seems to clear as though Harry Potter was sitting on the bonnet waving his wand. Whether it be the growl from a set of enormous tailpipes, the brilliance of xenon headlamps (or rows of LED driving lights, as is the latest fashion), these are the vehicles that demand respect on the road.
The Porsche Cayenne has always had presence, whether for its imposing, slightly controversial looks, or the fact that this is an SUV created by the makers of world-renowned sportscars. This latest GTS version seems aimed at reinforcing that head-turning appeal. And, under the skin, this model has been developed to incorporate even more of the famous Porsche sporting DNA.
Finished in one of two unique colours offered for this newest derivative, our Nordic Gold metallic test unit was always going to be noticed from afar. Up close, the GTS takes the Cayenne S looks a step closer to those of the mighty Turbo. Standard 21-inch alloys are layered with 295/35 rubber, and are accommodated in 14 mm wider wheelarches. The body is 24 mm closer to the ground than that of the Cayenne S. A larger rear spoiler protruding from the top of the tailgate improves downforce at speed, and the twin tailpipes of a sports exhaust system blare from either side of the rear bumper. More sporty touches can be found in the interior, including driver and front passenger bucket sports seats, as well as extensive use of leather and alcantara.
With an upgraded intake system, including a 6 mm wider throttle butterfly, the longitudinally- mounted 90-degree V8 engine powering the GTS boasts 15 kW more power than the Cayenne S, elevating the maximum motive force to 298 kW, available at 6 500 r/min. Torque is unchanged at an impressive 500 N.m, churned out at 3 500 r/min. In a vehicle topping the scales at over two tons, this relatively small increase in power does not necessarily translate to significant improvements in straight-line performance, but rather a satisfying augmentation of overall everyday drivability. An effortless 0-100 km/h sprint time of 8,06 seconds on our test day complemented a 1 km sprint time of just 28,20 seconds. A top speed of 228 km/h was recorded – bizarrely, some way short of Porsche’s claimed 250 km/h…
If the thought of travelling over 200 km/h in a vehicle of this size raises an eyebrow, take a look at the emergency braking times. The four-wheel discs’ ability to consistently stop such a mass in its tracks from 100 km/h in under three seconds is truly impressive.
The GTS is the first Cayenne to combine steel spring suspension with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), allowing the driver to choose between three damper settings, ranging from comfort bias to a firmer, sporty application. This, together with the lowered suspension, adds to the already impressive dynamics that the Cayenne range boasts. Our test unit arrived fitted with both the optional air suspension (R22 410), and PDCC (Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, R33 040), the latter providing some slightly “embarrassing” moments for a couple of our test team.
Along our test route’s familiar twisty bits, one gets accustomed to which corners are sharper or smoother than others and, depending on what vehicle is being tested, have an idea of how much lean might occur while negotiating each corner, leading to an anticipatory tilt of the head to counter the forces. However, with PDCC fitted, the Cayenne GTS all but defies these lateral forces, leaving the driver leaning for no apparent reason. The system incorporates active anti-roll bars to counter body-roll forces as the weight is transferred from one side to the other. The result is that, although the driver’s seat is positioned at an SUV’s “command” height, this Cayenne will out-manoeuvre, and possibly outpace, many a hot hatch along a winding road.
The Cayenne has come in for some criticism in its time, partly due to its looks, and from some people who question whether a company famous for producing sportscars could – or even should – produce an SUV. Styling will always be subjective, but worldwide sales show that the Cayenne continues to be a huge success for Porsche. With the GTS, slightly more of that famous Porsche DNA has been exposed in the form of subtly aggressive looks, effortlessly impressive performance, and some gravity defying dynamics.