When planning a six- to eight-year life cycle for a model, its a good idea to have a plan in place to keep things fresh. One way is to introduce new models with updated styling, features, and powertrains. Porsche is no stranger to this tactic and as the second-generation Cayenne approaches its third year, its no surprise that its variant range has swelled to six with the arrival of the 2013 Cayenne GTS.

Study the photos carefully, and you'll recognize the hood, front fascia, head and taillamps borrowed from the Turbo, although the big air inlets that cool that model's intercoolers are blocked off. Similarly, the GTS-standard gloss-black exterior trim and the sporty side skirts, wheel-arch extensions, and roof spoiler are available option packages on lesser Cayennes. (That twin-wing spoiler increases rear-end downforce, taking the coefficient of lift from -0.01 to -0.03.) The only distinguishing features you can't get on any other Cayenne, no matter how much you sweet-talk the salesman, are the matte black tailpipe extensions and the black lower-tailgate finisher. Emotion: braggadocio?

Inside there are special GTS seats with memory; Alcantara trims the seat inserts, console, and door panels; and a standard Alcantara headliner (a $1990 option on lesser Cayennes). Those opting for the bright Peridot green or Carmine Red paint ($3450 extra) will get coordinating stitching, embroidery, and seat belts. The Sportdesign steering wheel with paddle shifters and audio controls is also standard (a $290 value). If you're keeping track, optioning an S as close as possible to the equipment level of a GTS would run up a $91,415 sticker -- $8390 more than the GTS -- without any of the performance upgrades or Turbo-look styling. If your spouse/home finance accountant expresses displeasure upon hearing the price, explain that the GTS' base-price savings (nearly) paid for your optional PCCM brakes!

The 4.8-liter engine is largely shared with the Panamera GTS, including the revised camshaft boasting 1mm greater intake-valve lift (11mm total), stronger valve springs, and revised timing (delayed 5 degrees to account for the higher lift). This increases output by 20 hp and 11 lb-ft relative to the Cayenne S V-8, for a total of 420 hp and 380 lb-ft. (Does eagerness count as an emotion?) The Panamera's slightly less restrictive intake system gives that version an extra 10 hp and 4 lb-ft. Another delightful GTS-exclusive feature is the so-called Sound Symposer, which channels the sound waves generated in the intake plenum directly to the A-pillar cavities when the car is switched to Sport mode. This mode also opens an extra flap in the exhaust system that bypasses some of the sound baffles, and the resultant engine roar is quite intoxicating and way more stirring than the Turbo's stifled snarl. (How about bawdy garrulousness?)

That engine is bolted exclusively to the eight-speed Tiptronic S transmission (because only 3 percent of the last-gen GTS buyers opted for the manual, it's off the order sheet, provoking emotional regret among non-buyer journalists). By increasing the transmission's hydraulic operating pressure slightly, shifts at full load happen about 5 percent quicker. The internal gear ratios are the same as in all Cayennes, but the final-drive ratio is a noticeable 20 percent shorter. Combine the added horsepower and the extra gearing leverage with the fact that all 958-generation Cayennes weigh in some 400 pounds lighter than their predecessors, and 0-60-mph acceleration is claimed to improve by two-tenths to 5.4 seconds, while top speed increases by 2 mph to 162. (It's achieved in sixth gear, if you were wondering.)

All U.S.-bound GTS models will get the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system and air suspension and that are optional elsewhere. Its ride height is lowered by 0.8 inch, and the bump stops are shortened and stiffened accordingly. Shock damping rates are stiffened by roughly 5-10 percent at each of the three ride-comfort settings and the algorithm controlling the adaptive damping response is unique to the GTS. Other chassis tweaks include standard 20-inch wheels, with an array of optional 20- and 21-inch wheels. The wheel offsets are adjusted to place the sidewalls flush with the wheel-arch extensions, which increases the track by 0.5 inch in front, 0.7 inch in the rear.

Porsche introduced its latest GTS in the mountainous Carinthia region of southern Austria during what turned out to be a Noah-grade all-day rainstorm. It is therefore impossible to comment on the dry grip of the 295/35R21 Michelin Latitude Sport tires, but their wet traction seemed admirable, and the chassis communicated the approaching limits of their adhesion quite clearly. It's also impossible to really assess the functionality of the optional Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus system, and until we do we're hesitant to bless it as a lower-case torque-vectoring system. This is because it relies solely on a single multiplate clutch in the rear differential and possibly some brake interaction to control torque flow. It cannot overpower the outer wheel, as systems such as Honda/Acura's SH-AWD system can.

Flogging the sodden SUVs around a tight motorcycle track also showed off how lenient the stability control system is when in the Sport mode, allowing nice progressive four-wheel drifts out of the tighter bends, with a pronounced tail-wag accompanying any particularly abrupt tromps on the loud pedal. The test car was also equipped with the $8840 carbon-ceramic brakes, which boast particularly splendid pedal feel and bottomless reserves of fade-free retardation. Even on this too-small, too-wet track, the GTS managed to vastly outperform the low expectations one has of any SUV of this size and weight, provoking the giddy laughter in the driver.

Out on the open, twisty roads, the engine and transmission impress the most. The V-8's baritone roar stimulates the enthusiast glands like few other sounds, especially when slowing and downshifting in Sport mode, when the engine computer cuts ignition to a few cylinders for one or two cycles, sending a bit of raw fuel into the exhaust manifold, where it burns with a delightful bark. It sounds a lot like the good old days of carbureted overrun, except more orderly. You always get a discrete staccato brrrap of three or four distinct pops. Oh, and none of this sound seems to be emanating from the A-pillars. When exercising the accelerator and brake pedals hard, the computer commands the transmission to hold gears, grab downshifts as soon as possible, and execute upshifts double-quick. One observation the deluge afforded us: The low, sleek, pointy nose allows much of the water from big puddles to splash forward, up over the hood, and onto the windshield, temporarily blinding the driver.

We eagerly anticipate the opportunity to strap our test gear on a GTS in drier weather to decisively quantify its performance advantage and rule on the torque-vectoring system's effectiveness. For now, we're willing to go along with that "most emotional" claim for the GTS, and we're downright enthusiastic about any $8390 equipment discount that includes a free performance boost.


2013 PORSCHE CAYENNE GTS
BASE PRICE $83,025
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 4.8L/420-hp/380-lb-ft DOHC 32-valve V-8
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT 4600-5000 lb (mfr)
WHEELBASE 114.0 in
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 190.8 x 76.9 x 66.3 in
0-60 MPH 5.4 sec (mfr est)
EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON 15/21 mpg
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 225/160 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS 1.13 lb/mile
ON SALE IN U.S. September 2012