Ok, I admit it, I don’t love SUVs, I prefer sports cars, I can’t really imagine how can a SUV being transformed into a proper sports car. Until now. Porsche, once again, really surprise me with this amazing car. Obviously we can’t feel the driving pleasure that can give a 911, but the result is unexpected. I had the pleasure to spend a few days with this new Cayenne GTS (Grand Touring Sport) to write this review.
The fundamental innovations are to find under the hood rather than in the aesthetics, in line with the trend the engine has been downsized and renewed with a twin-turbocharged V6 instead of the naturally aspirated V8. If you are disappointed by this news, you have to know that soon the 911 will be downsized too. I have to say that this new engine will absolutely not make you miss the old V8.
Looking at the spec there are significant improvements in performances. This new engine is a six-cylinder twin turbo of the latest generation, equipped with a dry-sump lubrication system and the VarioCam Plus technology (variable valve timing that acts on the adjustment of the camshaft and on the walking of valve). Compared with the naturally aspirated V8 gains 20 HP and 85 Nm of torque. So the new specs are of 440 hp at 6000 rev / min and 600 Nm between 1600 and 5000 rev / min, these are enough to push about 2200 kg from 0 to 100 in just 5.1 seconds and reaching 262 km / h top speed.
The engine is only a small part of the amazing performances of this GTS, there is more to discover in this car. In the market you can find, in fact, the more powerful Turbo and Turbo S with 570 hp. The real surprise of this SUV is the ability to be extremely effective in the turns, enough to register an impressive 8.13 at the Nurburgring, leaving behind many sports sedans. Here it is finally in front of me.
I allow myself a few minutes to walk around it for discovering every little detail. It doesn’t take so much time to realize that this is not a normal Cayenne. The “Grigio Meteorite” Metallic paint is stylish and aggressive at the same time, and I immediately notice the huge red brake calipers, with six-piston calipers and 390 mm discs at the front and four-piston with discs of 358 mm at the back. Superb the 21’ rims “turbo design” (not as standard) with 295/35 tires.
The front end is essentially the same of the Turbo version, with the three large air intakes in the rear stand instead the four sporting exhaust at the back and a big spoiler. Very beautiful LED headlamps, now a signature of the design in the modern Porsches. Once behind the wheel I can’t find big differences in design compared to other Cayennes. To remember us that we are driving a GTS we can find the abbreviation shown in the tachometer and the headrests.
Those who had experiences with other supercar will recognize the distinctive Alcantara smell. Inside the interiors of the GTS, the use of this material is extended to many details: the centre of the sports seats, pillars and even the roof. The rest, dashboard, steering wheel, seats and handles are covered with fine leather. Some finishing details are embellished with carbon inserts (not as standard), such as the dashboard or the gear knob.
The general feeling of quality is at the highest level, anything you touch is covered with high-quality materials. I love the steering wheel, beautiful and ergonomic to handle. Very nice also the metal flappy paddles of the gearbox.
The instrumentation is the same as in all Porsches, really complete, with the rev counter in the center. The central tunnel is full of switches, certainly spectacular but perhaps a bit too crowded, it is possibile to be confused searching for the right command. Although this is all very well organized.
The central screen in a high resolution of the Porsche Communication Management (not as standard) and can also be activated with the touch screen. The navigation function can also be displayed on the multifunction screen embedded in the dashboard. That is very practical and informative. Considering the excellent overall quality, I would expect an higher resolution on this display.
You can find the perfect driving position in a moment, the adjustments are many in both seat and you can also have the memory of the position of the driver’s seat as an option. The rear passenger compartment is excellent, the seats are comfortable and well profiled, even those who are tall have plenty of space for the legs and for the head. In this car we also find 4 areas AC and heating seats (not as standard).
Even in a 5 people journey you really feel in first class. After all the adjustments my test drive begin. You definitely feel that you are driving a “big” car but the driving setting helps keeping everything under control. I move in traffic with a gentle touch of gas, with the setting set to “comfort” the bumps on the road are perfectly absorbed. The Tiptronic S 8-speed gearbox pushes the Cayenne at just 1500 rpm making it almost imperceptible.
The feeling is to have under your right foot a fantastic reserve of infinite power. I set the mapping on “sport plus”, press the sports exhaust system switch and finally try to push hard on the throttle. I remain glued to the seat, the feeling of the fantastic noise is entertaining thanks to the Sound Symposer: from the air filters starts two acoustic ducts that reach inside the car making it easy to hear the sound of the aspiration.
The exhaust bypass valve act as well as ensure to hear the thrilling roar from the engine that revs to almost 7000 rpm, the automatic transmission changes gear violently accompanied by the exhaust backfire. The torque seems never to stop. These brutal performances really surprise when you think that you are driving an SUV.
As I said on the other hand if you need some silence and comforts this car fits very well. On the highway at 130 the engine runs very quiet at about 2200 rpm in the eighth gear. The interior is perfectly isolated, the only in terms of sound you can hear only a slight rolling noise of the tires, probably due to the high pressure of them (3.0 bar on the back). The lane change assist guarantees the safety during the driving. It is also useful reporting of any vehicle in the blind zone.
I approach some turns in the “Appennino” for testing this car. It really seems to drive a sports sedan. The trim is neutral, by setting the suspension on “sport” the cars feels well balanced and, thanks also to the very big tires, is very stable and secure. The engine is always ready, from just 2000 rpm, if you want to deal with a overtake, rapidly wakes up in a moment. The kick-down is instantaneous; the only issue would be a slow returning to higher gears without the sport mode enabled. It ends up keeping the engine in high revs for a few moments.
It’s night time, stuck in the traffic in the evening I start to appreciate the technology on board. Not as standard there is exceptional Park Assist with Surround View, makes a tight parking very easy thanks to the cameras that are able to give you the vision of the car from above (virtually of course). You can also see traced the trajectory of the wheels or activate the visual left-right to get out of a narrow gate without visibility.
Music lovers will love also the BOSE Surround Sound System. The fidelity is unique, the high power ensures a clear and enveloping sound. Fantastic also the full LED headlights with automatic high-beam.
You don’t pass unnoticed with the Cayenne GTS, many are curious about the details of the sporty lines or turn their heads hearing the roar of the engine. The next day taking advantage of the beautiful autumn sunshine I decided to test the two opposing souls of this GTS, sports and off-road. Started the path for a nice picnic in the mountains, when the road starts to turn I press the button for the “sport plus” mode. Down the air suspension to low (2 cm lower) and select the manual transmission.
What you can with the GTS in mixed roads is amazing! Thanks to high double wishbone suspension at the front, there is no understeering, the multilink at the rear ensures extremely stable support too. Our GTS also features Torque Vectoring (not as standard), a system that brakes the inside wheel to enhance the directionality. Moving from corner to corner with the power of the V6 and a sound of a race car. The steering is very precise, very communicative, almost all curves are faced without taking your hands from the right position.
It feels so good to make you forgetting the big mass that carries. You can only feel the weight of the car in the fast direction change. Anyway I would suggest to not exaggerating too much. The seats offer a good support, the central part in Alcantara helps not to slip down and provides a good grip. The gearbox used in manual mode could be better; the gear changes are not very quick as you would expect. Maybe the PDK dual-clutch would be a better choice, as is the younger sister Macan. It’s time to see what he can do off-road. I took a dirt road and set the air suspension level to “extreme off-road.”
The ground clearance increase from 203 mm to 261 mm. Despite the very sporty tires (unfit to off road driving) the Cayenne faces the rugged terrain with ease, it seems virtually unstoppable.
Even with standard tires this car has managed to tackle a course that would have made it difficult for many other SUVs, leading me to enjoy the beautiful landscape from a unique location, a like her.
Throughout the test it proved to be not economical in fuel consumption in line with expectations. Average of 10 Km / l are impossible, the highway is about 8.5. In cities the situation worsens dramatically down to 6. Given the performances, size, and weight the result is satisfactory, thanks to features like the start / stop system.
It is certainly not in this type of car that you are going to look for fuel economy. The 100l tank is a good choice (not as standard). Great car for sure, what about the price? The standard GTS costs 102 400 euro, this tested version is 126,600. All the extras are in my opinion necessary. Air suspension, the camera with Surround View, the full LED headlights, the Torque Vectoring Plus, Porsche Communication Management and 21’ wheels are a great value.
In conclusion this car surprised me, I’m amazed about her unique versatility. Exciting on road, surprising when off-road, confortable for long trips. Those that are looking for space, practicality, luxury and performance have found the right car.
By: Leonardo Stefani
Photos: Edoardo Mascalchi, Marco Dellisanti