Â© All photos by Harvey Schwartz
SUV WITH A BIG EMPHASIS ON
By Harvey Schwartz
I don't know why versatile, flexible, four-door vehicles that can carry up to
eight people or a sheet of 8X4 plywood ever got the name 'sport utility'
vehicle. With a high center of gravity, body-on-frame construction and a solid
rear axle, these utility vehicles were never built to give a sporty handling
experience, no matter the price.
Porsche entered the sport utility segment in 2003 with the Cayenne to bring more
sport into the segment with their long heritage of building some of the world's
great sports cars. While they did dial-up the power and performance level with
the 500-horsepower Cayenne Turbo model, there was still room for improvement in
the handling department.
In 2008, Porsche offers its second-generation of Cayennes, featuring the all-new
GTS. Porsche is serious because the GTS designation has not been used by Porsche
since the 1963 Porsche 904 GTS.
Sharing its essential architecture and appearance with the Cayenne S and Turbo,
the GTS differs in purpose. Sacrificing some of its sibling's excellent off-road
capabilities, the GTS rewards the demanding enthusiast driver with increased
levels of on-road performance similar to the 911 sports car.
When viewed head-on, the GTS shows its purposeful, aggressive face by sharing
its fascia with the awesome Cayenne Turbo. Like the Turbo, the GTS has large
cooling intakes and new headlamp clusters moved to the sides behind clear lens.
Like the Turbo, drivers behind the GTS are greeted by the vehicle's chrome,
dual, twin tailpipes and an extended bi-plane spoiler at the roof's trailing
edge. Thanks to its wider track, 20mm lower ride height, standard air
suspension, and wider 21X10 wheels and tires, compared to the Turbo, the GTS
provides astounding agility on pavement. .
Commensurate with its place at the top of the naturally aspirated Cayenne
family, the GTS sports a unique interior tailored to help you and your
passengers fully appreciate the vehicle's abilities. Even with its performance
enhancements, the GTS comes standard with all-wheel drive and a broad palette of
traction and stability enhancing technologies so you can leave the pavement with
confidence as long as you use off-road tires.
At the heart of the all-new GTS is an enhanced engine and transmission.
Refinements by Porsche engineers to the naturally aspirated 4.8 liter V8 engine
have resulted in a 20-horsepower increase, totaling 405 horsepower, and 369
pound-feet of torque. Regardless of whether you opt for the standard six-speed
manual, or the optional six-speed Tiptronic S, you will feel the increase in
acceleration. The engine's power characteristics are further enhanced by a
specially created sport dual exhaust system which comes with the added bonus of
a throaty, growl from its four tailpipes. As a result, Porsche test drivers were
able to accelerate the GTS with the manual gearbox from 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds
and 6.1 seconds using the Tiptronic automatic.
The sport-tuned, fully-independent air suspension features double-wishbones up
front, and multi-links in the rear. The Porsche Active Suspension Management
system works together with the Dynamic Chassis Control system of active front
and rear anti-sway bars to cancel out any body lean when cornering. Click the
Sport button and the engine, suspension and steering reacts faster to your
To ensure more than adequate traction, the GTS is fitted with unique, ten-spoke,
21X10 light alloy wheels wrapped with high-performance rubber. Quickly and
safely slowing the GTS down from speed are powerful four-wheel disc brakes. Up
front are 13.7-inch vented rotors with 12.9-inch vented discs in the rear. The
front rotors are clamped by 6-piston calipers, and 4-piston calipers in the
rear. Braking control is further enhanced with ABS and Brake Assist. In the
sport mode with the chassis set at its lowest setting, the GTS corners close to
what you would experience at the wheel of a 911.
But this is a sport utility vehicle with all the flexibility and utility in
seating and cargo hauling, plus the spaciousness, comfort, luxury and
high-technology found in the world's finest SUVs. Like the exterior, the GTS's
passenger cabin shows the vehicle's performance potential. You'll appreciate the
newly designed leather sport seats with deep side bolsters and Alcantara centers
to help keep you in place during spirited driving. Both seats are 12-way power
adjustable. The instrument cluster is easy to see and mimics the 911 look.
Console-mounted controls for the active handling suspension are large and easy
to operate to get the most from the GTS, on or off-road. All dials, buttons and
switches are within easy reach. The beefy, leather wrapped, multi-function,
steering wheel features power tilt/telescope for the perfect angle for quick
turns, and gear-changing buttons to blast out of a steep curve. More exclusivity
inside is the unique aluminum trim and stainless-steel door entry guards with
the GTS logo. You are surrounded everywhere with luxurious, hand-cut and sewn
leather, including Alcantara on the entire headliner and pillars. Visibility is
excellent all-around. The folding, split-back rear seat is also unique to the
GTS by featuring raised bolsters and Alcantara inserts at the outer seating
positions to ensure stable and comfortable seating for three adults. The cargo
hold features plenty of space including tie-downs and a security shade.
Standard equipment includes aluminum foot pedals, grab handles above each door,
power windows/door locks, heated/retractable side mirrors, self-dimming rearview
mirror, A/C with filter, four 12-volt plugs, dark tinted glass on rear and side
windows, front/rear variable-speed wipers/washers, power liftgate, AM-FM-CD
audio system with 12-speakers, cruise-control, and a multi-function trip
computer. Options include HID headlamps with washers, Porsche Communications
Management with GPS Navigation, front/rear heated seats, floor mats, rear
parking assist, power moonroof, and a Bose Surround Audio System.
If you love the spirited performance of Porsche 911 sports cars, but need the
flexibility of a sport utility, you don't have to compromise – test drive the
all-new Cayenne GTS.
Â© Words and pictures by Harvey Schwartz
A stellar performer in almost every way – but if you have to ask about gas
mileage, this probably isn't for you.
2008 Porsche Cayenne GTS
$87,230.00 as tested
4.8 liter DOHC, VVT, all-aluminum V8
405 at 6,500 rpm
369lb.ft. at 3,500 rpm
EPA mileage specs:
13 mpg/city, 18 mpg/highway
6-speed manual standard/6-speed Tiptronic automatic optional
Independent, double-wishbones, air-springs, 3-position gas-charged shocks,
active anti-roll bar
Independent, multi-link, air-springs, 3-position gas-charged shocks, active
21X10 light alloy wheels/295/35R21 high-performance tires
Front: 13.8 in. vented rotors clamped with 6-piston calipers
Rear: 13 in. vented rotors clamped with 4-piston calipers
ABS, Brake Assist