While most carmakers are busy ‘downsizing’ – reducing engine capacity and cylinder-count – Porsche has been doing the opposite.
First came the Boxster and Cayman GTS, which swapped their 2.5-litre four for a 4.0 flat-six. Now the Cayenne GTS has followed suit, ditching its 3.6-litre V6 for a 4.0 V8. In the case of the sports car siblings, bigger is most certainly better. Is the same true here?
Let’s start with some context. The Cayenne sits above the Macan as the larger of Porsche’s two SUVs, and is also available in curvier Coupe guise. As for GTS spec, that’s the mid-point of the range, above the still-very-swift ‘S’ and below the ballistic Turbo. Traditionally, it has been the sweet-spot for enthusiasts – thanks in part to a lower ride height and sportier chassis. The Cayenne for folk who really wanted a 911, perhaps.
The GTS borrows its new V8 from the Cayenne Turbo, detuned here from 550hp to 460hp. Even with 2.2 tonnes to shift, that means 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 168mph. With no electrification in sight, however, the downside is 20.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 306g/km, placing the Porsche firmly in the top tax bracket. Still, if you can afford the £88,750 asking price…
That said, ‘my’ GTS Coupe costs rather more. Tot up all the extras and – are you sitting down? – the final reckoning comes to £123,451. In other words, you could buy a Golf R for the price of options alone.
I won’t dwell on the soft-close doors (£497) or red instrument faces (£265) – the important extras are the Lightweight Sports Package (£6,692), adaptive air suspension (£1,511), Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (£2,315), rear-wheel steering (£1,448) and ceramic composite brakes (£6,321).
The Cayenne has been flicking V-signs at physics since 2002, but the GTS is on another level. Switch into Sport Plus and it feels laser guided and ruthlessly focused.
How much of this agility is due to extravagant box-ticking is difficult to say. I’d probably pass on the Lightweight Sports Package (a carbon roof seems a token gesture in a hulking SUV), while ceramic brakes are overkill for a car with no track pretensions. The suspension and rear-steering upgrades, though, seem worthwhile, helping you make the most of that fabulous V8.
Unlike the naturally aspirated Boxster and Cayman GTS, the Cayenne is twin-turbocharged – but what it loses in high-rev drama, it gains in mid-range wallop. Driving all four wheels via a paddle-shift auto ’box, it feels plenty quick enough – especially in a car that, on country lanes, often takes up more than half the road. It makes a great noise, too; not the full-on blitzkrieg of an AMG V8, but a big-chested growl, with over-run pops from the twin tailpipes.
Crucially, the GTS also does the expected SUV stuff (otherwise you’d just buy a 911, right?). It’s hugely spacious – even the Coupe seats five and carries up to 1,680 litres of luggage, versus 1,825 litres for the standard car – easy to drive and amply comfortable for long days on the autobahn.
Admittedly, the ride is slightly restless on 22-inch alloys, but forgo the Lightweight Sports Package and you get the standard 21s. Win-win.
The Porsche also has a nicer interior than some vehicles at twice the price (hello, Aston Martin DBX), with illuminated switches beneath gloss-black panels and a super-sharp touchscreen. It feels like stepping inside an iPhone, albeit one trimmed in (optional) retro-look houndstooth and tactile Alcantara. Build quality feels second-to-none, too.
Starting with such a heavy vehicle, then using technology and dynamic nous to make it handle brilliantly is hugely impressive. Yet it also seems counter-intuitive, so this remains a Porsche I admire, rather than one I could love.
That’s a personal thing, though. If you’re already sold on the merits of a large SUV, it’s hard to imagine why you’d want, or need, more than a Cayenne GTS. Save the £15k premium for the Turbo and spend it on options instead.
Tim Pitt writes for Motoring Research
TOP SPEED: 168mph
CO2 G/KM: 306
MPG COMBINED: 20.9