Cayenne GTS

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Our test route promised high alps, but the minute we began climbing them, rain swallowed us. Glum news for photography, great news for driving. Aus­tria’s polizei are famously not entertained by those who disobey the local underachieving speed limits, but driving in wet and grime, you can have all the fun of going too fast for the conditions while not actually violating the peace.

The GTS’s all-business steering wheel had no secondary controls, with the vital exception of ready-to-rumble Tiptronic paddle shifters. We suspected the standard Porsche Trac­tion Management would un­obtrusively prove itself far more often than we would realize on the climbing, winding, whooptie-doing little mountain roads, and it did. Whenever applying more power than the rear wheels can fully use, PTM transfers drive to the front wheels.

We were blessed with something even more precious: the optional Porsche Torque Vector­ing Plus. The system can apply braking to an inside rear wheel or add power via the electronically controlled differential lock. We would test it at a small, hilly, and challenging test track where Austrians learn driving technique. The rain had slacked just enough that the surface was greasy without being downright awash — and it’s just amazing how brilliantly the 275/45R20 tires handled it. Mounted on standard 20-inch RS Spyder wheels with greater offset, the GTS enjoys a 17-mm increase in rear track over the Cay­enne S.

Bolstered by electronic stability “nannies,” the GTS made going fast on a greasy track not scary — just fun. Down at the bottom of the course were two longish, constant-radius bends rather like skidpads, and it was natural to steam into them hard, adding power, and see what happened.

What happened was inevitable. The tail stepped out wildly at about a 45° angle and then…stepped right back in! The torque-vectoring, after waiting a blink to see if I was Ayrton Senna, concluded I was not and took over. The tail tucked itself in as if it were on tracks. No over-correction. No fuss. Damn, I’m good!

For a driver who learned to love driving long before such electronic hand-holders were imagined, it’s tempting to scoff dismissively. But PSM, PTM, and PTV Plus provide an added margin of control. You know you have overstepped the limit, no doubt of that. The systems fix you up, but only after instructing you on exactly where the limit really is. They can inform and instruct the most enthusiastic right foot, and properly calibrated, as this Porsche system is, they don’t limit speed, they limit mishap. Which is good for everyone.

A Sport Chrono Package is offered in the GTS, the first in a Cayenne. It includes a stopwatch on the dash and displays lap times as well as lateral and longitudinal acceleration on the central screen. It can be used to analyze comparative times and speeds. Unlike the 911’s Sport Chrono, however, it does not offer Launch Control.

The cabin of the GTS, we are told, is really exciting, but we honestly can’t say. Why? A “glitch” caused the press GTSs to be furnished with base Cayenne S interiors. They were very nice looking and all that, but lacked attitude. The GTS, says the book, includes Alcan­­tara trims on its seat panels, center armrest, door panels, head­liner, and pillars. We can say that the standard eight-way driver and front-passenger sport seats are excellent on long drives.

On the Cayenne GTS sound stage, Bose supplies the base audio, but an optional 14-speaker Bose surround sound system is also available. Above that, a Burmester system is composed of 16 individually controllable speakers, including a 300-watt active subwoofer with a 250-mm-diameter membrane, 16 amplifier channels, and a total output of more than 1,000 watts — enough to blow your toupée into the creek.

Porsche wants you to see, hear, and feel performance. If you don’t in the new GTS, you have to be blind, deaf, and ten times thick. This is a forceful step forward for the fastest non-turbo Cayenne. If you like an SUV that drives like an all-weather night fighter, ready for anything, at any speed, this is one.

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