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2013 Porsche Cayenne GTS First Drive (Car and Driver)

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2013 Porsche Cayenne GTS

Porsche adds another V-8 Cayenne flavor.

With the addition of the 2013 GTS to the Cayenne lineup, there are now six flavors of the Porsche SUV—Cayenne V-6, Cayenne S, Cayenne S hybrid, Cayenne diesel, Cayenne GTS, and Cayenne Turbo. Six variations of the same crossover make perfect sense from a company that offers 18 variations of the 911. Each has its own personality, so choosing a Cayenne is like trying to pick the right ice cream at Baskin-Robbins, except you don’t get a tiny plastic spoon. (Porsche dealers can offer you test drives, but no minuscule flatware.) And there are more versions coming: Next up will be the Turbo S. After that, we’re hoping the Cayenne Bumpy Cake Swirl S gets the green light.

The Cayenne Spotter’s Guide

Here’s a simple way to mentally categorize the new Cayenne GTS. It’s basically a Turbo without the turbochargers. If it were a 911, Porsche guys would call it a Turbo-Look and the factory would call it the 958-X52 Natur, or something inscrutable like that.

The GTS comes with the Turbo’s front fascia, LED-accented active headlights, body-colored fender extensions and side skirts, red brake calipers, black window frames, and darkened LED taillights. It’s not quite identical, though. For the Porsche Club judges who will be scrutinizing this SUV in 2063, we should mention that the biplane rear spoiler design differs from the Turbo’s, the four exhaust tips are matte black instead of stainless steel, and the badge on the hatch says GTS. Aside from the engine, perhaps the major difference between the Turbo and its stunt double is the latter’s $83,025 base price, $26,700 less than the Turbo’s. Start with a $66,825 Cayenne S and try to recreate a GTS and you’ll spend considerably more than $83,025, and you still wouldn’t have the Turbo’s front end.

Lift the Turbo-style domed hood and there is a warmed-over version of the Cayenne S’s 4.8-liter V-8. A more aggressive intake cam and modified engine management are good for 420 horsepower, 20 more than the Cayenne S, 80 less than the Turbo. Torque gets a small bump to 380 lb-ft, up 11 over the S, but well short of the Turbo’s 516.

The extra power isn’t really noticeable. What is noticeable is that that the GTS feels more willing, more frisky, and more awake than the S. Shorter final-drive ratios in both the front and rear differentials help the GTS move from a stoplight with more conviction. Quicker shifts from the eight-speed automatic transmission also help—Porsche claims a 0.2-second improvement in 0-to-60 times compared to the Cayenne S (we got a 5.5-second run out of the last S we tested). The six-speed manual from the previous Cayenne GTS is no longer offered, as, sadly, less than three percent of buyers opted for it. (Those folks deserve to be inducted into the “Save the Manuals!” hall of fame, if such a thing existed.) The new GTS does have standard paddle shifters behind the steering wheel as well as the manual Tiptronic gate for the shifter.

Extra Sound, Plenty of Initialisms

To make sure you’re well aware that you’re in the presence of a special engine, Porsche has added a so-called Sound Symposer. Similar to what the Volkswagen GTI or BMW Z4 have been using for years, it works a lot like an ear horn and pumps engine sound into the cabin. A tube funnels the intake vibrations (noise) into a chamber in the A-pillar. Press the Sport button next to the shifter and all of the barks, farts, and guttural sounds from the big V-8 will delight your children and possibly horrify your significant other.

In Europe, the GTS’s chassis is dropped by nearly an inch versus the S. In the States, we’ll only get a three-quarter-inch drop. (Drop it any lower and the feds would call it a car, not a truck, which likely would lead to classification problems with the EPA.) A wider rear track is due to wheels with different offsets that put them nearly flush with the fenders. The adjustable air suspension is standard, as is PASM, Porsche’s electronically adjustable damper system. Like on the Turbo, the GTS’s all-wheel-drive system has a set front-to-rear torque split of 40/60 in normal conditions. If slip is detected, all torque can be sent to the front or to the rear. Porsche’s torque-vectoring system (PTV), which clamps individual rear brakes to help steer the Cayenne through corners, is standard. The optional active anti-roll bars (PDCC) keep the GTS eerily flat through corners.


At an estimated 5000 pounds, it’s strange to not get any sensation of body roll in something this tall. Much to our amazement, the Cayenne checks off all the basic virtues of sports cars—it’s stable under cornering pressure, there’s lots of grip, the brakes are strong, and it entertains without trying to kill. You just happen to be sitting way off the ground. Steering is heavy, but it builds slightly with cornering loads. Despite a loss in overall suspension travel, the ride is still comfortable as long as the active shocks are left in the softest setting. It’s when you dial in sportier settings that you begin to really feel road imperfections.

Inside, the Cayenne is all about comfort. Like the Turbo, leather covers every reasonable part of the interior. For the unreasonable, Porsche will cover air-vent slats and probably even the gauge needles in cowhide. The seats are throne-like, thickly padded, and extremely supportive. Synthetic suede covers the headliner. The GTS cabin is a remarkably soft and happy place, even without any pink spoons to brighten it up. Speaking of, our unrelentingly black-on-black GTS made us think of squid-ink ice cream. That’s another preference that definitely requires a sample.

2013 Porsche Cayenne GTS First Drive
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