In the category of Broken Promises, Automaker Division, one claim repeats like a broken record: “Our SUV drives like a sport sedan.” Unlike so many of its bulky brethren, though, the Porsche Cayenne has largely delivered on that pledge. The latest Porsche Cayenne GTS is simply the world’s best-handling sport-ute, with more athleticism than you’d have any right to expect from a 2.5-ton truck.
At $70,195, the GTS is designed to be the most purely sporting Cayenne, topping even the $93,700 Turbo edition. Stiffer anti-roll bars and a driver-adjustable air suspension boost the Cayenne’s cornering, and hulking twenty-one-inch wheels add style and grip in equal proportions. A 405-horsepower V-8 launches the GTS to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds and to a top speed of 157 mph.
Inside, top-grade leather contrasts with sturdy metal and Alcantara suede. Body-hugging buckets supplant the flat, dispiriting rear seat of the Cayenne’s previous generation. Pressing a button on the console sharpens throttle response, cranks up the V-8’s silky rumble, lowers the body and loosens the stability control’s electronic leash. Type-A drivers will want the optional Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, an active anti-roll bar that keeps the Cayenne’s body uncannily flat in corners.
Skip the optional manual transmission, the first in any Cayenne; its lengthy throws and numb-feeling clutch only amplify the Cayenne’s size and heft. The six-speed Tiptronic S automatic, which offers slick manual shifts via steering-wheel buttons or the console shifter, is the right choice.
Skeptics initially dismissed the Cayenne as a poseur, you may recall, and predicted a swift demise. Today, it’s nearly as popular around the world as the venerable 911 sports car. Turns out Porsche fans really did want an SUV—as long as it drove like a Porsche.
2008 Porsche Cayenne GTS (Tiptronic S)
Engine: 4.8-liter V-8
Torque: 369 pound-feet
Weight: 4,949 pounds
Zero to 60 mph: 6.1 seconds
Top Speed: 157 mph