An incredibly long time ago, the entry-level Boxster was the best selling car in Porsche's entire lineup. The problem was that the wee little roadster wasn't generating the profits that Porsche needed to lay the groundwork for a successful future.
That's why Porsche performed the most heinous act in the history of purebred sports car makers: They introduced the Cayenne SUV. Porsche purists threatened to jump from rooftops and 911 owners refused to acknowledge the Cayenne's existence. But that didn't stop the truck from becoming a massive success.
And now we have the second generation Cayenne GTS, the split personality SUV for the person that wants a sports car but also needs to take the kids to soccer practice. It's a brilliant truck, but is it also a brilliant Porsche?
(Full Disclosure: Porsche wanted me to drive the Cayenne GTS so bad that they brought it by the office early on a Friday morning and said "yo son, take it for a week." They didn't actually say "yo son," but I like to imagine that they did.)
In one way the GTS is the 911 GT3 of the Cayenne family. In another, more accurate way, it isn't really close. The GTS gets the most powerful naturally aspirated V8, the most aggressive suspension setup, and the fastest shifting automatic gearbox in the lineup. That makes it GT3-ish. It's also a truck. That makes it not GT3-ish.
Porsche's intent is for the GTS to be the sportiest Cayenne you can buy today. It marries on-road dynamics with off-road ability, though if you ever see one off-road it's probably because someone flipped it off the road and into a ditch.
The first generation Cayenne looked a bit like Porsche took a 911, put it in Photoshop, and stretched every dimension to create an SUV. It was awkward. The second generation car tones down that stretched 911 styling to make it go in its own direction.
The restyled car looks smaller and more aggressive, but the gaping maw is a little much for my tastes. There are also bulges all over the place that seem to be trying to convince the outsider that it's sporty. "I really am sporty, y'know! I have flared fenders. My hood has a powerdome!"
The Cayenne continues the new Porsche tradition of covering the entire interior with buttons. The center console has buttons and switches for everything. I mean everything. It can be confusing at first, but once you get used to it it's actually intuitive and easier to operate than an iDrive.
The suede covered seats are truly excellent. They're comfortable and very well bolstered. The car I drove didn't have Porsche 18 way adjustable seats. Instead, it just had adjustable lumbar. That's it. Most surfaces like the seats, roofliner, and steering wheel are covered in Alcantara, that ever so lovely sueded material that I can't keep my hands off of.
It also has a simply gigantic panoramic roof, which I'm indifferent about. Sure, it lets in tons of light, but it also reduces stiffness. The GTS is supposed to be the sportiest Cayenne. Doesn't cutting a giant hole in the roof work against that that whole "sporty" thing? I think so.
You might think that the Cayenne is a bit of a heavy ride. And you'd be totally right. At 4,597 pounds, the GTS isn't a featherweight. It's also 44 pounds heavier, not lighter, than the Cayenne S, which is a less sporty variant.
Thankfully the GTS shifts faster than the other Cayennes thanks to some techno wizardry in the eight speed gearbox. A higher output 420 horsepower version of Porsche's 4.8-liter V8 doesn't hurt either. Porsche says the GTS sprints to 60 in 5.4 seconds, and I think that's a conservative number. If you want to accelerate while at speed, the GTS will drop down a handful of gears like a boss and then sprint up to your desired speed.
I wasn't expecting the $17,000 price premium would make the GTS considerably faster than the Cayenne S, and it isn't, but it is at least marginally quicker.