Those of you who regularly read Truck Trend may wonder why you'd want to read about another Porsche SUV. After all, they're expensive, don't have best-in-class ground clearance, and only have two rows of seating. What's so special about that? Our answer is simple: Because it's a Porsche you can tow with, and that's good enough for us.
The GTS is the newest model in the Cayenne line, which was revamped for 2008 after a year-long hiatus. The GTS recently went on sale, joining the V-6 Cayenne, S, and Turbo, which were available at launch in late 2007. Its MSRP is $70,195, placing it above the Cayenne ($44,295) and S ($58,795) and far below the Turbo ($94,595). But don't categorize the GTS based solely on its pricetag--while power, luxury, and feature content increase with price from Cayenne to Turbo, the GTS is almost its own branch of the Cayenne family tree. This is the most Porsche-like Cayenne money can buy.
Yes, its basic layout is largely the same as that of the S. Both models have four-wheel drive, V-8 power, and a 7700-pound towing capacity. But Porsche went to great pains to address some criticisms of the other models, a major one being that a Porsche--any Porsche--should have fantastic handling and plenty of power. The Cayenne wasn't lacking in the power department (with the possible exception of the V-6), but even with that, Porsche found a way to pull another 20 horsepower out of the 4.5-liter V-8, bringing the total to 405 for the GTS. (Torque numbers are identical to those of the S, at 369.) The new-for-2008 V-8 uses direct fuel injection, which works with VarioCam Plus valve lift and timing control to provide more power than the previous-gen's V-8, plus helped the SUV earn an ULEV rating. And unlike the S, the GTS comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, with which it can reach 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. Our tester, with the six-speed Tiptronic automatic, reached that speed in 6.1 seconds, 1.2 seconds faster than the current-gen V-6-powered Cayenne and 0.8 second faster than the previous S. Braking was equally impressive--its 13.8-inch, six-piston front and 13.0-inch, four-piston rear calipers brought the GTS to a stop from 60 in 110 feet, a distance that's comparable with that of the Cadillac CTS-v and the Audi TT. Fuel economy is 11/17 (city/highway) with the manual, 13/18 with the automatic.
Some critics felt the Cayenne compromised too much Porsche-quality handling in exchange for off-road ability. The GTS answers that, coming standard with Porsche's Active Suspension Management (adjustable air suspension) and steel springs--the first time that combination's been made available on a Cayenne. PASM brings ride height down 20 mm (a little less than an inch), which doesn't seem like much, but makes a noticeable difference on twisty roads. It also rides on 21-inch wheels unique to the GTS.
We were thoroughly impressed with the Porsche's new SUV. If you want to enjoy the GTS, put it in Sport mode and leave it there. The exhaust, which was retuned for a sportier note, growls every time you accelerate, and the V-8's power backs that tempting sound with quick responses to driver input. The transmission does an excellent job of keeping up with the engine, but the paddle shift buttons are in odd places on the front of the steering wheel. Still, the suspension changes, PASM, and the vehicle's active anti-roll bars give the GTS a feeling of confidence almost beyond belief. In addition, we like the extra GTS-exclusive touches, such as the black cues on the door handles, red brake calipers, Turbo front fascia, and the light-gray Alcantara sport seats in the cabin.
For those who like the regular Cayenne's mix of off-road capability, towing capacity, and on-road driving feel, there's no need to consider a GTS--you can get into something close for a lot less money without losing a single millimeter of ground clearance. Our tester priced out at a somewhat surprising $87,230 (due to the special interior, Bose surround with XM, Xenon headlights, Porsche Communication Management, moonroof, trailer hitch, and a few other items). For that money you could get a fully loaded F-450 and have plenty left over for another vehicle. However, there is no heavy-duty pickup (or any pickup, for that matter) that handles like this Porsche. You pay extra to get into a Porsche, but you get what you pay for.