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IT'S been 10 years since Porsche launched its four-wheel drive wagon the Cayenne.

The naysayers poo-pooed the idea, but as history will show they were oh so wrong. The five-seat Cayenne was an instant hit and has gone on to become the biggest selling Porsche of all time.

THE GTS

About two years after launch, the GTS model was added to the line-up, a harder-edged, road-focused powerhouse with a naturally aspirated V8.

(for that matter very few Cayenne drivers even get their cars dirty).

THE NEW GTS

The new one does just about everything better. It's been slimmed down and is lighter, faster and more powerful but uses less fuel (how do they do that?). Going on sale from September, it's priced from $164,900. its by no means cheap but only $13,000 more than the S and $84,000 this side of the top drawer Turbo - and you get plenty of extra kit.

THE STATS

Cayenne is based on the same platform as VW's Touareg and the Audi Q7. The 4.8-litre direct injection V8 produces 309kW of power and 515Nm of torque, an increase of 11kW and 15Nm on the old one.

The engine revs to 6700 rpm and is hooked up to an 8-speed Japanese Aisin automatic, with steering wheel mounted paddle gear shifts. It has a top speed of 261km/h and does the dash from 0-100km/h in a rapid 5.7 seconds (the old one did it in 6.5).

Fuel consumption is a claimed 10.7 litres/100km, down from 13.9 and, with a knock sensor, we're told it will run on ordinary unleaded. if need be - but with a loss of power.

WHAT ELSE?

The car features automatic stop/start that shuts the engine down at traffic lights to help save fuel.

The active all-wheel drive system is predominantly rear wheel drive, but automatically sends torque to the front wheels as required.

GOODIES

Comes with side skirts, wider colour-coded wheel arches and a rear, roof-mounted spoiler. There's also LED daytime runners and tinted LED tail lights, plus a set of black, menacing quad tailpipes.

The driver and front seat passenger get eight-way electrically adjustable sports seats. Also features dynamic lights, with integrated dynamic and static cornering lights.

SAFETY

The Cayenne doesn't have a safety rating, at least not from ANCAP or its Euro equivalent. They won't buy the cars and Porsche won't supply them for testing, so the authorities must rely on supplied figures. Suffice to say with six airbags and a full suite of electronic aids, safety should not be a concern. A reversing camera is also standard.

THE DRIVE

It's one of, if not the best, handling four-wheel drives on the market. But it's definitely more at home on the road than on a race track as we discovered this week at Worthersee in Austria. The second generation GTS might be lighter and more powerful than its predecessor, but it still weighs more than two tonnes. And, in the end, it's this figure that counts against it when you're charging full tilt into a corner - although there's surprisingly little body roll.

The dimensions of the car also come into play on the thin winding roads that we encountered in the Alps, especially when you meet oncoming vehicles - it doesn't leave much room for passing.

The six speed auto has been replaced by an 8-speed unit in the second generation model.

In sport mode, gears seven and eight are locked out and the changes are more rapid - but in operation it's overly busy and does not change down quickly enough. The sound from the V8 is loud and raucous under full acceleration, but remains subdued unless the car is in sport mode.

when the system opens up and delivers the full and unmistakeable growl of the V8 - a sound that signals get out of the way. Off throttle the exhaust begins to crackle, like the sound ofdistant fireworks but it lacks the declarative note usually associated with V8s - that sound that hoons love so much.

WHY THE GTS?

The economical diesel might be the best selling Cayenne in Australia but you can't beat the sound or responsiveness of a V8. It's cheaper than the Turbo, looks arguably just as good with firmer sports suspension that has been lowered 24mm. The active damper system adjusts the ride to match the surface and way the driver is driving.

THE COMPETITION

The BMW X5/X6 M, Benz ML63 AMG, Range Rover Sport and perhaps Audi's V12 Q7, but in terms of handling it will probably outperform all.

PORSCHE: Grunt from the front - Motoring - Lifestyle - Fairfield Advance
 
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