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2013 Porsche Cayenne GTS (Petrina Gentile for The Globe and Mail)
2013 Porsche Cayenne GTS (Petrina Gentile for The Globe and Mail)

First Drive

Porsche Cayenne peppered with power Add to ...

The mid-sized Cayenne SUV is the sports car of SUVs and one of Porsche’s top sellers.

Nearly 60,000 Cayennes were sold globally in 2011. And one of the most popular trims is the GTS. “We sold almost 16,000 units of this first-generation [GTS]. That makes it a 17 per cent volume share of the total Cayenne line. We are really convinced that this new Cayenne GTS will lead to the same success,” says Michael Hugo Leiters, Porsche’s director, Product Line SUV.

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For 2013, the second-generation Cayenne GTS gets a more powerful engine, more dynamic power delivery, a firmer chassis with lower ride height, and design changes inside and out.

The Cayenne lineup consists of six models, including the base Cayenne with a 300-horsepower V-6 engine, the diesel Cayenne with a 240-hp TDI V-6 that will come to Canada later this year, the Cayenne S with a 400-hp V-8, the Cayenne S hybrid with a supercharged V-6 gas engine and two electric motors that deliver a combined output of 380 hp, the Cayenne Turbo with a powerful 500-hp twin-turbocharged V-8.

The GTS falls between the Cayenne S and the Cayenne Turbo. Under the hood of the GTS is a 4.8-litre uprated V-8 engine, based on the Cayenne S power unit. It delivers 420 hp, 20 more than the Cayenne S, and 380 lb-ft of torque. It’s the most powerful naturally aspirated engine in the Cayenne model lineup.

Mated to the engine is an eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission with an auto start/stop system and gearshift controls on the steering wheel. While the first-generation GTS had a six-speed manual transmission, this generation only comes in automatic because demand for the stick was too low, accounting for only 3 per cent of sales.

Personally, I prefer an automatic in an SUV. And the eight-speed transmission is great. It’s smooth and offers quick gear changes. You can also select between two driving modes – normal and sport. It’s easy to engage on the fly – just hit a button on the centre console and the driving dynamics change instantly. I love the auto start/stop function; it works seamlessly. When stopped, the system kills the engine and restarts it again to save fuel and reduce CO 2 emissions. The fuel consumption is rated at 10.7 litres/100 km; while the CO 2 emissions are 251 g/km. That’s a big improvement over its predecessor which averaged 13.9 litres/100 km in fuel consumption and 332 g/km of CO 2 emissions.

The GTS is agile and nimble; at 2,085 kg, it weighs 160 kg less than its predecessor. Its chassis is also completely redesigned with a lower ride height (24 mm lower), a wider track (13mm wider in the front and 17 mm wider in the rear axle) and stiffer dampers. With the lowered suspension, it’s more fun to whip around the track, but there is some body lean when cornering sharply. Porsche’s traction management system with all-wheel-drive also worked well on the rain-slicked roads.

We push the GTS a little harder on a test track near St. Veit. Nail the throttle and the engine responds instantly, sprinting to 100 km/h in 5.7 seconds; its top speed is 261 km/h. The engine noise is more pronounced, akin to a racing car engine. The deep growl echoes in the cabin thanks to a specially tuned intake and exhaust acoustics designed to resonate in the cabin. The new sound symposer system has two acoustic channels in the A-pillars, so when you hit the sport button, the channels are opened, directing the sound of the intake pulses into the cabin.

Visually, the GTS shares the same hood, front fascia, and larger cooling air intakes as the Cayenne Turbo. As a result, it looks more hefty and muscular than the S. The GTS also comes with frames and trims in high gloss black paint, unique side skirts, wider wheel arches, a prominent twin-wing roof spoiler and two muscular matte black twin tailpipes. Stunning 20-inch RS Spyder design wheels are standard, but you can get 21-inch wheels as an option. The brake calipers, painted bright red, are also a visual knockout.

The cabin is distinctive with an attractive blend of leather and alcantara. But the dashboard and centre console layout is too busy. Similar to the Porsche Panamera, there are buttons and gauges everywhere. It can be distracting for the driver to find simple functions fast.

Inside, there’s room for five. The driver and front passenger seats are cozy, but the side bolsters on the bottom seat cushions are too high, which makes it awkward to get inside. But once in the sport seats, they hold you firmly in place along the twisty mountain route. The front seats are eight-way electrically adjustable. The rear seats have single seat styling – they offer ample leg and headroom for passengers. The trunk is spacious. With 670 litres of room there’s enough space for several hockey bags, golf clubs or shopping bags.

The 2013 Porsche Cayenne GTS is built for the racetrack – it loves the curves, but it makes for a practical and useful daily driver. It will start at $93,600 when it arrives in Canada this fall.

pgentile@globeandmail.com

Twitter: @PetrinaGentile

Tech Specs:

2013 Porsche Cayenne GTS

Type: Four-door, five-passenger pr emium SUV

Price: $93,600

Engine: 4.8-litre V-8

Horsepower/torque: 420 hp/380 lb-ft

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Drive: All-wheel

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 10.7 combined city/highway; premium gas

Alternatives: Mercedes-Benz G-Class, Range Rover Supercharged, Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, BMW X6 xDrive50i

Follow on Twitter: @PetrinaGentile

Globe rating for the 2013 Porsche Cayenne

Our ratings guide
9

Ride

Agile, nimble, and fun to drive – you’d think you were driving a sports car instead of an SUV.

8

Looks

Classic Porsche styling with borrowed design cues from its more powerful sibling, the Cayenne Turbo.

7

Interior

Lavish and spacious, but the dashboard is littered with too many buttons.

8

Safety

Well-equipped with safety features such as Porsche’s traction management system with all-wheel-drive, curtain airbags along the roof frame and side windows from A to C pillar and thorax side airbags.

5

Green

Bonus points for improving the CO2 emissions and fuel economy.

8.5

Overall

(out of 10 / Not an average)

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