Porsche purists need to chill here for a minute and listen up. They've never been too fond of the Cayenne SUV. One blogger once summed up the sports car/SUV crossbreed like this: It makes as much sense as trying to breed a snowmobile with a personal watercraft.
Personally, I was not been a big fan of the merger either when Porsche succumbed to the SUV craze five years ago and introduced the Cayenne. But along comes this new GTS version, which debuted earlier this year, and I'm having to rethink everything.
It's not the fastest of the Cayennes -- that honor still belongs to the Turbo version. But it is likely the most agile of the group, aided by Porsche's adaptive suspension system (first time Porsche stuck it on a Cayenne). And, combined with steel springs, it sits about an inch lower than other Cayennes so it can handle serious corners with amazing grace.
With a horsepower boost to 405 plus and -- for the first time -- a standard six-speed manual tranny (previously only available in Europe), the Cayenne is a sport SUV you can't take home to mother.
Gary Fong, press fleet manager for Porsche North America, told me the GTS may look like the Turbo at the front end, but you can get a sport-design kit and have an even more aggressive look. Plus it offers more luxuries and options than other Cayennes, he said.
Not that it's for everyone, but the six-speed manual makes an amazing difference in the sporty feel of this SUV. The optional automatic gets the Tiptronic S for the part-time shifter types.
Still, the GTS' 4.8-liter V-8 doesn't leave you gasping for air with a 0-60 mph at around 7.5 seconds. The 5,000-pound GTS strives but strains to truly impress you with its speed.
But acceleration is smooth and swift enough at any rpm and the sport exhausts give it just the right note. The ride is firm but not obnoxiously so. An off-road package is available and I wouldn't leave the road without it, most especially due to the lowered ride here.
Every Cayenne is tow-rated at 7,700 pounds. And, you might want to shop around if cargo capacity is a top priority. You can do better for a midsize SUV. It does have an optional power liftgate, though, for hands-free access.
While you navigate the twistys, hand grips on the center console for both driver and passenger give you someplace to hang on -- also helpful when stepping into the vehicle, too.
When talking Porsche, it's not often it's the interior that impresses as much as the speed and ride. But this second-generation Cayenne is much improved inside. Seats are firm and sport a soft blend of leather and Alcantara. Other surfaces have a nice, quality feel. Large gauges give it a 911 look, certainly not by accident.
I like the Cayenne GTS' aggressive look, too, which is better than most crossovers. But fleet manager Fong reminds this is no crossover. It is not car-based; it has its own platform.
So maybe you had trouble seeing a Porsche emblem on an SUV. Maybe it's time to deal with that.
And, for you tree huggers, Fong says a hybrid version is due out in the next year or two.
Base Price: $69,300