PREVIEW: PORSCHE CAYENNE GTS

by Derek McNaughton . Apr 17 2009

The Porsche GTS has without a doubt, the sweetest-sounding exhaust of any vehicle ever.

OK, maybe the V12 Aston Martin DB9 or the Ferrari F430 sing with more sonorous notes. But these are not everyday sport-utility vehicles able to plough through mud or snow one day, haul the lads to hockey the next or tow 3,500 kilograms of car and trailer to the race track -- where it could easily turn a few impressive laps itself.

Porsche addicts already know the GTS as the best-handling Cayenne traversing the Earth, and that those three initials are not used lightly since they are borrowed from the 904 GTS Carrera race cars of 1964, which weighed about half as much as today's Cayenne.

With a six-speed manual as standard equipment, this raging bull stands apart from every other Cayenne in the herd as much for its hunkered-down angry look as that addictive choir emanating from the four chrome oval pipes out back.

I almost had to apologize to my neighbours who had thrown scorn and frowns my way from all that rumbling of the 4.8-litre V8 in my driveway. But the engine revving in the 2008 model I drove could not be helped. Nor could the constant pressure I kept applying to the throttle every time the GTS got underway. Its 405 horsepower thundered out the gate with the force of 369 foot-pounds of torque, delivering an irrepressible, oh-what-a-joy feeling over and over again.

Indeed, the GTS could be the most entertaining way to get through winter when your 911 is hibernating.

There's little argument the Cayenne GTS is the enthusiast's all-weather vehicle, competing with the BMW X5, Infiniti FX50 and Audi Q7. With seating for five, all-wheel drive and 19 cubic feet in the back (63 cu. ft. with the seats down), that's less space than the X5 but more than the Infiniti.

Either way, it's enough to swallow four hockey bags and sticks.

But the machine itself, with all its power, handling and Porscheness, makes the dreaded awfulness of winter something that could almost be tolerated.

The GTS coddles its driver in leather-bound luxury under a canopy of alcantara, thrilling with zero-to-96-kilometres-an-hour sprints in 5.7 seconds and impressing the heck out of everyone with all-weather and off-road prowess.

Even the look of the GTS warms the soul in the way no other SUV does -- even the way no other Cayenne does (except maybe the Turbo) thanks to its low ride height, wider wheel arches, 21-inch wheels and Turbo-sourced front and rear fascias. There was joy in every turn of the heated, leather steering wheel and smiles with every kilometre under foot.

But there are also a few changes that could elevate the GTS to a higher plateau. High among them are changing the parking brake so it is controlled by hand up top near the centre console -- or, better, equipped with an Audi-like electronic park brake. With a manual transmission, it was a pain to use the foot brake over and over again.

 

-- Canwest News Service