Porsche Cayenne GTS

Latest off-roader’s performance belies its size.

Mixing the genes of an SUV with a supercar can have some bizarre consequences. Long before the X6 was a twinkle in BMW’s eye, Porsche was putting the finishing touches to the 911-on-stilts Cayenne. Unlike the X6, it’s a fully fledged 4x4 with ample ground clearance, genuine mud-plugging abilities and practicality to match.

But there was no way Porsche was going to turn its back on its driving heritage. Although the Cayenne line-up has grown to include an entry-level V6 to go with the V8 and Turbo models, the latest GTS model is the sportiest of the lot.

A standard Cayenne isn’t exactly discreet, yet the GTS is even more in-your-face. From the front and back, it’s virtually identical to the Turbo, while the wheelarches have been flared by 14mm and the ride height dropped by 24mm. The finishing touch is the addition of huge 21-inch rims.

Inside, the Porsche’s SUV nature is plain to see. While the dials and basic controls have the German firm’s typical typefaces, the high seating position and upright dashboard are more durable mud-plugger than rakish coupé.

As you’d expect from the sportiest Cayenne, the front seats have extra bolstering to hold you in place. What’s more impressive is that those in the back get a comfortable sculpted bench, too. In terms of versatility, the Porsche is untouchable here – no rival has as much leg or headroom, and only the X6 can beat its 540-litre load capacity.

The under-bonnet statistics are just as grand. Even though it does without a turbo, the GTS has 20bhp more power than the standard Cayenne S, at 405bhp. And as you would expect from a model with a Porsche badge, the performance is immense – in our tests, we managed a 0-60mph sprint time of 6.3 seconds, which was only one-tenth behind the far lighter A5.

With the V8’s throttle response sharpened in Sport mode, the revs rise steadily to 4,000rpm. It’s then that the Cayenne really gets into its stride, launching its huge 2.2-tonne girth forwards with near-911 pace. Selecting gears quickly requires a strong left leg to operate the heavy clutch, but the GTS raises a grin with its pace.

Combining steel springs with PASM active suspension, this model offers a unique take on the Cayenne package. The set-up is firmer than a regular S, but it’s still a long way short of rivals here when it comes to cornering.

Turn into a bend, and the sheer weight causes the Porsche to pitch and roll. At least the steering is surprisingly weighty for an SUV, and the GTS is capable of higher cornering speeds than you might expect. Things improve with the dampers in Sport mode, even though that setting is too hard for tackling speed bumps comfortably. Most drivers will leave the suspension in Comfort mode to improve the Cayenne’s lumpy ride.

Porsche’s Dynamic Chassis Control, which automatically adjusts the suspension to suit road conditions, is available for £2,140, as is the full air-suspension package fitted to the Turbo.

Tick those boxes, and you are only adding to the Cayenne’s eye-watering £54,350 price. While the GTS is £20,000 less than a Cayenne Turbo, it’s easily the most expensive model here.

The Porsche is a brute in the company of precision instruments, and offers all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. For some buyers, that will be a large part of its charm – but will its excesses harm its chances of taking the top spot?

Details

Price: £54,350Model tested: Cayenne GTSChart position: 4WHY: Proving that SUVs can be fast and agile is the Porsche Cayenne. The new GTS model is the sportiest of the lot.

Economy

Don’t buy the GTS if your fuel budget is small. The Cayenne came close to its claimed combined economy figure of 18.7mpg – but 16.8mpg is difficult to justify.

Residuals

Costing a huge £26,251 over three years, the Porsche has the heaviest depreciation here. That’s down to its hefty asking price, while the 51.7 per cent residual is the lowest on test.

Servicing

Nothing about the Cayenne is cheap, including maintenance. While Porsche dealers provide a great service, GTS drivers will pay for it – three checks cost £1,428.

Tax

Only the most committed of Cayenne fans will run it as a company car – as it costs £7,609 a year in tax! Pricey road fund licence will have an impact on private buyers, too.

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