Loud: Open the throttle wide and savour the sound of the GTS's V8
THESE hills are alive with the sound of Porsche music.
I am powering up an Austrian mountain pass that runs through the kind of green rolling hills where the von Trapps and their annoying babysitter assaulted our ears.
If only one of the locals had a Porsche Cayenne GTS when they were filming The Sound of Music around here in the 1960s.
Every song would have been drowned out by the monstrous howl of its big V8 engine that reverberates like a thunder roll.
The GTS is the sportiest model in the Cayenne range. It is not the fastest - the Cayenne Turbo out-guns it in a straight line - but it is the most agile and driver-focused.
Its sweet-revving naturally aspirated V8 responds instantly instead of pausing slightly for a turbocharger to spool up. The GTS arrives in September for $164,900 - $13,600 more than the Cayenne S.
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You get a bunch of extra equipment, a more exciting drive, a pinch more output and some enhanced motor music.
The GTS is serene until the driver presses the Sport button and effectively switches on an amplifier. Flaps in the exhaust open wide and two sound chambers in the engine bay draw ear-pleasing notes into the well-insulated cabin.
The Cayenne sounds incredibly loud outside the car and the mountain cows at the highest point of our climb look at me with bovine contempt. If they had opposable thumbs, they would call the polizei.
Inside, the GTS sounds awesome when you have the throttle wide open, but too quiet when you back off.
The 4.8-litre V8 has been tweaked with two new camshafts to bump up power and torque. Even with a hefty 2085kg kerb weight, this is enough to sling the GTS from 0-100km/h in 5.7 seconds. It certainly feels that fast when you mash the accelerator, especially with the added soundtrack of Sport mode.
The responsiveness is just brilliant and the power delivery comes on strong through to the 6700rpm cut-out without any lumps or gaps. The official fuel consumption figure is 10.7 litres/100km, but give it a hard time and you could use as much as 18L.
The only transmission is a ZF eight-speed torque converter auto (not the faster shifting dual-clutch from sports models) which is standard across the Cayenne range. Though tuned for the GTS the gearshifts are too slow for such a sporty car. The transmission is linked to all four wheels using a system that automatically shifts power between the front and rear wheels on the run.
There is no doubting the GTS is fast in a straight line. What about when it arrives at corners? Thanks to a raft of suspension changes, the GTS corners remarkably well, for what it is. There is no escaping the fact that this is a great big, heavy cross-over wagon that seats four people comfortably (the fifth seat is near-useless) and has a big boot.
The suspension has been dropped by 20mm, further reducing any chance this 4WD will ever make it off-road, which helps it to sit as flat as can be expected in the turns. All Australian Cayennes get air suspension, so the driver can choose between the firm Sport mode, benign Normal mode and marshmallow Comfort mode. The ride is surprisingly comfortable even running in Sport mode on optional 21-inch wheels (20s are standard).
Silver is the standard wheel colour, but customers can have them painted in hues of all kinds. One red GTS at the launch had red wheels, which looked hideous and clashed with the calipers (a different shade of red). A wide spectrum of body colours is available including an exclusive eyeball-searing green (see right; there is matching interior stitching).
All GTS Cayennes get a full body kit including a dual-foil rear wing, side skirts and a meaner front bumper with bigger air inlets and Cayenne Turbo headlights. Alcantara is used for the seats, doors, centre column and even the headlining. As in other Cayennes, the GTS has two easily accessible grab bars for the passenger, which can come in handy if the driver is having a crack.
After conquering the mountains, we are allowed to flog the Cayennes around a tight and twisty track, following a Boxster S.
This activity ia a showcase for the relative agility of the GTS, but also highlights the fact that while the steering is accurate, it is overly light and conveys little feeling. The brakes also have to work extremely hard.
I cannot help but want to be sitting nice and low in the Boxster, enjoying a real Porsche sports car.
That is only natural, because Porsche sports cars are really something special. However, the kind of person looking at a Cayenne wants an SUV and all the space and comfort that comes with it.
In that case, the GTS is about as good as it will get.
AT A GLANCE
Porsche Cayenne GTS
ENGINE 4.8-litre V8, 309kW/515Nm
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
THIRST 10.7L/100km, 176g/km C02
PERFORMANCE 0-100km/h in 5.7 secs
DIMENSIONS 4.8m (L), 1.9m (W), 1.7m (H)
Porsche's red-hot Cayenne GTS | News.com.au