I'm driving as fast as the car can go on the long and slightly twisty road, the exhaust note is a deep rumble that's turning into a sharp purr as the redline gets closer, a sharp right hander lays ahead, I brake as late as possible, use the paddle to shift down two gears and then turn in. The car sticks to its path and goes around the corner beautifully. It's a regular route I take and I don't remember driving around the same corner this fast. Driving downhill, I'm looking forward to attack every single corner and not once has the car stepped out of line. Occasional lift- offs results in a loud backfire. It's so addictive that I don't want this feeling to end. Okay, before you think it's some all-wheel drive sports car that I'm gunning downhill, let me tell you it's not. Well it somewhat is but it's actually an SUV, one that can put some cars to shame, an SUV that is a sports car from within. It's a Porsche Cayenne , and not any other Cayenne, it's a GTS.
Just looking at the GTS once will convince you that the SUV is a really fast machine. There are two special shades to choose from. The Cayenne we are driving is a Carmine red, a deep shade that is unlike any other red hue I've seen. It's not just sporty but also makes this Porsche a true attention magnet. But how do you make an already sporty SUV look better? Well Porsche designers have added a lot of additional kit outside. There is a new design front bumper that houses larger cooling air intakes that are as tall as the front grille and an additional apron is added that gets intakes as well. These additions don't just help in cooling the engine but also make the car sportier. The headlamps get daytime running lamps that surround the projector lamp and additional LEDs are integrated into the intake giving the car a lot of character. Side skirts blend well with the wider wheel arches and at the back, the twin wing roof spoiler and fat quad pipes take centre stage. The tail lamps are similar to the regular Cayenne but are finished in black tint that not only contrast well with the red shade but also gives the car a menacing look.
Inside, the all black interior is detailed with red stitching. Some parts such as the dashboard, door pads and roof are finished in alcantara. The steering wheel is a simple racecar like wheel that is great to grip with an optional alcantara rim. The aluminium paddle shifters are mounted on the wheel and are easier to use unlike the hard to use shift buttons on the previous generation car.
Space, unlike in a supercar, is never a concern for both passenger and their luggage since it's after all an SUV. The GTS embroidered sport seats are electrically adjustable and offer good support too. To add some more sportiness, the colour of the seatbelts are red too. The optional 1000watt Burmester audio system (a Bose system is standard) turns the car into a live concert stage, we however didn't listen to a lot of music.
That's because the Cayenne GTS packs in a 4.8-litre direct injection V8 that produces 420PS of max power at 6500rpm and a massive 515Nm of peak torque coming in at 3500rpm. The engine is similar to the Cayenne S but is tuned for more power thanks to a few modifications like a new camshaft with more valve lift and strengthened valve springs. The naturally aspirated engine has a linear power delivery and revs all the way to 6700rpm like a race car. The throttle is very responsive and the power builds up in no time. This means the car hits the ton in a brisk 6.42 seconds. The engine is mated to an 8-speed torque converter. It's as quick and seamless to shift as a dual-clutch system, with well spread ratios to make full use of the power. The GTS is best driven in sport mode, in this mode the engine map is tuned for maximum power, the gear shift change time is shorter and the engine note gets louder. Even inside the cabin, the roar of the intake (actual intake note) is piped in to the A-pillars to give the driver and the occupants a complete acoustic experience. Also in sports mode the exhaust flaps open and in turn improves the gas flow rate. This means with added performance the exhaust note gets louder too. The note is orgasmic and if blindfolded you'll think you're seated in a a loud V8-engined supercar. It's that good.
All this power is complimented with car like handling, that's because the Cayenne GTS features an optional air suspension that lowers the car by 20mm. This gives the car a lower centre of gravity aiding in agile handling. To further aid in dynamics, a torque vectoring feature is also available as an option along with an electronically controlled rear differential lock. Lastly, to prevent body roll, the suspension is electrically adjusted especially while cornering hard. The drive we took mostly involved high speed driving on straight expressways and through twisties and the GTS never complained. Air suspension also let's the ride height to be adjusted, this option allows five different ride height levels to suit various situations. In off-road mode (highest suspension level), obstacles and high speed bumps were cleared effortlessly. Like the regular Cayenne we drove up the Jalori pass, the GTS too glided through rocks and rough terrain. That's remarkable considering the car runs on 20-inch wheels with low profile tyres. In fact, we reckon with smaller wheels and higher profile rubber, one wouldn't be able to differentiate it with the more capable Cayenne. Massive six-piston aluminium calliper brakes with 360mm up front and four piston calliper brakes with 330mm discs at the back ensure the car comes to a halt in typical sportscar fashion. If one wants even better braking, a ceramic brake system is optional. So be it a race track, fast expressways or even rough terrain the Cayenne GTS feels at home. At Rs 1.06 crore, ex-Mumbai, it offers more value than the Cayenne Turbo, comes feature loaded, drives and sounds like a supercar and if needed, will go places your neighbour's 911 won't dream of.
By Halley Prabhakar