Porsches with the GTS badge on the back are always a good idea. Here we preview the big Cayenne GTS. Can it do the badge justice? Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review
The Porsche's restyled Cayenne has its own niche model beloved by the purists. This time round, the GTS does away with the big V8 and gets a more powerful 440PS twin-turbo 3.6-litre V6. It'll hammer to 62mph in just 5.2 seconds. With the most focused suspension of any Cayenne model, the GTS looks to be positioning itself as the prime pick for those who want a big SUV that handles like a hot hatch.
The GTS badge holds a special position in the Porsche hierarchy. It's usually reserved for cars that are optimised to be sporty on road without all of the track trimmings you'd get in something like a GT3 version or the massive wallop of the Turbo models. In other words, they might not make the biggest numbers, but they're usually some of the finest road cars Porsche makes and are sought after by Porschephiles. It's almost like a badge of honour amongst owners who know where the hidden sweet spot in the range lies. The first car to wear the GTS badge was the 904, way back in 1963. Since then, we've had some very tasty 911 variants, the highly collectable 924 Carrera GTS and, in latter years, the Boxster, Cayman, Panamera and Cayenne versions. Ah yes, the Cayenne. Some of you feel that a GTS badge has no place on an SUV that weighs over two tonnes. That Venn diagram would overlap almost 100 per cent with people who'd never driven a Cayenne GTS. Those who have know they're something very special and the latest model looks to continue that bloodline.
The GTS isn't short on power. While it can't compete with the ballistic Turbo model, 440PS sends it down the road quite adequately, 62mph being steamrollered in just 5.2 seconds. Choose the optional Sport Chrono package and you can shave a tenth off that. That's about half a second quicker than the old Cayenne GTS and top speed reaches out to 162mph. Torque? That goes up by 85Nm to 600Nm, the 3.6-litre twin-turbo V6 offering a very different power curve to the old GTS's 4.8-litre V8. The thing that defined the last GTS was how well it cornered. It just seemed the sweetest of all the Cayenne models to drive and this one looks set to build on that legacy. The Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) damping system has been optimised for a more focused drive. With the standard steel-spring suspension, the vehicle sits 24mm lower, while with the optional air suspension the figure is 20mm. Further standard features include the brakes from the Cayenne Turbo with 390mm discs on the front axle (358mm at the back).
Design and Build
The GTS is one of the most recognisable Cayennes, if only because most owners can't help but specify them in a lairy colour. As standard, it has the Turbo nose section with huge air intakes and the Sport Design package, including more contoured side sills and wheel arch extensions. The latter, like the roof spoiler and lower rear of the vehicle, are painted body colour. There's some black contrast detailing too, with the rear badging, 20-inch RS Soyder alloys, exhaust tailpipes, and headlight cowlings all finished in this colour, set off by the darkened tail lamp cluster. There's also some GTS lettering on the front doors and if you haven't noticed all that, you'll probably hear the sports exhaust first. Jump inside and the first thing you'll notice will be the eight-way electrically adjustable GTS sports seats in leather/Alcantara upholstery with the 'GTS' legend on the head rests. There's a lot of Alcantara slathered about the cabin, which looks classy and is harder-wearing than seems initially apparent. Should you wish, you can also specify the optional carmine red or rhodium silver interior finish with rev counter face, decorative stitching, head-restraint lettering and safety belts in contrasting colours.
Market and Model
The asking price for all this is just over £72,000, which seems quite a hefty sum, but when BMW wants over £90,000 for its X5 M and Mercedes-Benz will demand £87,000 of you for an ML63 AMG, perhaps Porsche hasn't gone too optimistic on that pitch. The GTS actually seems a more exotic thing than either of its German rivals too, with its appeal to those who really enjoy driving, as opposed to those who merely know about big numbers. Apart from the GTS-specific bit, standard equipment includes Porsche Traction Management all-wheel drive, Bi-xenon headlights with four point LED daytime running lights, a multi-function sports steering wheel with paddle-shifts, ParkAssist front and rear, cruise control, automatic climate control, a powered tailgate, a 'Sport' button, Start/Stop technology with coasting function and a three year warranty.
Cost of Ownership
Switching from a V8 to a turbocharged V6 has allowed Porsche to do a whole lot better on the NEDC fuel consumption test. In fact, the GTS registers a 28.8mpg figure which merely puts it into the category of eye-wateringly expensive rather than utterly ruinous. Its carbon dioxide emission rating is 228g/km. The old V8 model made 26.4mpg on the combined cycle with emissions of 251g/km. While those might not seem huge improvements, given that the engine is 1.2 litres smaller and has dropped a couple of cylinders, do remember that it's more powerful. We all like the idea of something for nothing. As indeed do used car buyers, and the big ticket item on the Cayenne has long been depreciation, but then that's not an issue exclusive to Porsche. Show us one large SUV that retains its value well. The pace of change has been dizzying in this sector and older SUVs date rapidly due to advances in engine efficiency. Look at the prices or early petrol-engined Cayennes for evidence of this. Later models have improved a bit, but don't buy a petrol-engined performance SUV if you're watching the pennies.
The Porsche Cayenne GTS is the very definition of a niche buy. Sports SUVs aren't everybody's thing, and those that are sold tend to capitalise on the fact that there is price headroom in the SUV market, attempting to justify their asking prices by delivering increasingly ludicrous power outputs. The Cayenne GTS shows that there is another way. Sure, 440PS isn't exactly puny, but it's a long way from the most powerful cars in the class and instead, the GTS concentrates on offering a focused drive. At which point, the awkward squad at the back will pipe up and ask whether the Panamera GTS isn't a better choice. They'd be right, too, but if you're set on an SUV and want something sporty, then the Cayenne GTS is going to take some licking. It's never going to be a car that the public at large will warm to per se, but the Cayenne GTS is a car that's easy to admire. It wears that GTS badge really well too, insofar as it's not a flagship model but is one that appeals to a certain clued-in buyer. Thick-skinned customers, form an orderly queue... Switching from a V8 to a turbocharged V6 has allowed Porsche to do a whole lot better on the NEDC fuel consumption test. In fact, the GTS registers a 28.8mpg figure which merely puts it into the category of eye-wateringly expensive rather than utterly ruinous. Its carbon dioxide emission rating is 228g/km. The old V8 model made 26.4mpg on the combined cycle with emissions of 251g/km. While those might not seem huge improvements, given that the engine is 1.2 litres smaller and has dropped a couple of cylinders, do remember that it's more powerful. We all like the idea of something for nothing.