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Porsches are all about performance, power and luxury, all of which ratchet upward like crazy if you have the money to spend.

Take the Cayenne sport-utility. The 300-horsepower base model could be quicker off the line, but it excels in handling and interior flair for prices starting at $49,825.

But Porsche offers plenty more: the S, GTS, Turbo and Turbo S, with the latter priced from an eye-popping $146,975. I tested the $66,825 S last year, and this time Porsche upped the ante with the $83,025 GTS.

The GTS is new for 2013, along with a turbo-diesel model. The GTS boosts horsepower to 420 from the S’s 400 and lowers the ride height and final drive ratio. Zero-to-60 sprints drop 2 ticks to 5.4 seconds, while top speed gains 2 mph to 162, according to Porsche.

The GTS also gets the look to match that power, with glossy black trim, prominent side skirting, high arching wells housing 20-inch wheels, and aggressive front-end styling reminiscent of Turbo models.

The interior also is to die for, especially the soft, suedelike steering wheel. Oh wait, that’s among the extras that took the as-tested price of this GTS to $123,265. Soft leather is the standard material.

Even without all the extras, sitting in the driver’s seat reminds one of a jet cockpit with its touch screen and bevy of buttons running up and down the dash and center console. It’s a little overwhelming at first, but once you figure out what’s where, the controls are easy to use.

The Cayenne was redesigned for the 2011 model year, meaning technology rules. An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard, as are all-wheel drive and a fuel-saving start-stop system.

Given the sticker price, you’d think more of the tech features would be standard. Consider the two park-assist systems, at $1,095 and $1,750; $3,510 dynamic chassis control to offset body roll; $2,690 adaptive cruise control; $850 lane-change assist; $5,690 Burmester surround-sound system; and $8,840 ceramic brakes.

One cool feature that costs only $270 is the Sports Chrono Package, which provides technical readouts for G-forces and lap times on the $500 stop clock.

Some other cool options include a massive panoramic roof -- too bad it just opens a crack in the middle. Also, Porsche’s Sound Symposer system brings the GTS’ sporty exhaust note into the cabin.

Is the GTS worth the hefty premium over its stablemates? You could buy two and a half base Cayennes for the price of my tester.

I guess it depends on your budget, but the S and GTS provide a big leap in performance over the base model while retaining the ability to serve as a comfortable daily commuter. The gap between the higher-end models still is impressive, but much less so.

At this level of performance, the only real competition comes from BMW’s X5 variants, which -- unlike the Cayenne -- offer a third-row seating option.

Porsche Cayenne GTS
Performance-oriented luxury sport-utility
Base price: $83,025, base; $123,625, as tested
MPG range: 15/21, premium
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Not yet rated; Home | Safercar -- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Web: Official Porsche Website - Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG
Competitors: BMW X5 50i and M
Bottom line: Big bucks buy big performance and power

Porsche Cayenne GTS decked out to match its mega power - Phoenix Business Journal
 
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