Porsche's people like to claim the new Cayenne GTS brings ‘emotion' to its insanely popular SUV range. And they're right. That emotion mainly being: "How in God's name am I managing to corner this fast in a two-tonne 4x4?"
The Cayenne is a Porsche that will always split opinion, but, once you're on the move, it's always had that essential Stuttgart DNA. It shrinks around you in a way that the BMW X5s and Audi Q5s of this world simply can't match. And the GTS version moves the game on once again.
The normally aspirated 4.8-litre V8 from the Cayenne S has been fettled to release another 20bhp, up to 414bhp, with peak torque of 380lb ft coming in at 3,500rpm. It's also 160kg lighter than its predecessor, all of which means a 0-62mph time of 5.7secs and a vmax of 162mph. That's a second slower to 62mph than the range-topping Cayenne Turbo, but then choosing the GTS - as 17 per cent of owners have done - will save you around £20,000.
The suspension is lowered on a completely revised chassis set-up: by 24mm on the standard steel springs or 20mm if you choose air suspension. Plus, of course, there's Porsche's familiar alphabet soup of options. Trick active suspension management (PASM) is fitted as standard, but for the full ‘emotion' described above, you'll want Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) to further reduce body roll, and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus) to improve handling.
The result? The best-handling SUV we've driven to date. With the Sport button pressed, the steering response and lack of roll is remarkable: just point and go. It's only really when braking from speed that you become aware of all that mass surrounding you.
Even in Sport mode (Comfort and Normal modes are also available), the ride handles broken surfaces very well on 21in wheels (20-inchers come as standard). This was definitely not the case in the last Cayenne GTS. That should please James, even if it was apparently the results of strenuous testing at the 'Ring...
On public roads, in fact, it's so good that you're actually grateful for Porsche's Sound Symposer tech as it's the main reminder of just how fast you're going: the engine induction is piped into the cabin via the A-pillars, as fitted to the new 911.
Of course, there is a school of thought that says acting the racing driver in a £70k Porsche soft-roader with its PDCC and its PASM and its PTV simply makes you a bit of a GIT. But relevance to the real world aside, this is a remarkable feat of engineering. While we wait for a go in the new SUVs from Bentley and Lamborghini, the Cayenne GTS has set a new benchmark.
4803cc, V8, 4WD, 414bhp, 380lb ft, 26.0mpg, 251g/km CO2, 0-62 in 5.7secs, 162mph, 2085kg
As with the Panamera, the GTS version of the Cayenne is the right choice. It won't match the Turbo for outright pace, but it's better value.
Porsche Cayenne GTS driven full road test car review - BBC Top Gear - BBC Top Gear