Minggu, 01 Juni 2008

Porsche Cayenne GTS Review

By Robert Farago

Sam Adams Light. Porsche Cayenne GTS. Same deal. Both the American light beer and the German "sport truck" are fundamentally flawed concepts– made palatable by knowledge, passion and invention. Did I say palatable? I meant enjoyable. You can quaff copious quantities of Sam Adams' 124-calorie-per-bottle beverage without thirsting for "real" beer. By the same token, you can drive the snot out of the 405hp GTS without asking your companion "Dude, where's my Boxster?" In both cases, if you didn't know better, you wouldn't, and you wouldn't care. But if you do, will you?

To placate the purists, the Sultans of Stuttgart have made the GTS a mucho macho machine. Wheel arches that once sheltered Bambi's friends are now stuffed with 21" tires. The GTS shares its nose with the range-topping Turbo– continuing to prove that you can't make a silk purse out of sow's snout. Yes, well, the GTS' no-cost optional rear spoiler is pure Porsche: stylish, slick and sick. The quad pipes, not so much.

Inside, there's nothing to remind GTS drivers that they're the something wicked that this way cometh. A meaty steering wheel pretty much completes the list. I was expecting Porsche to go the whole hog (so to speak) and fit some honest-to-Gott racing seats. Perhaps that's where the keepers of the flame drew the line; the chairs offer nothing more than a little extra bolstering (front and back) and Alcantara inserts, just waiting for juice box dribbles and Diet Coke debacles.

Kick-over the GTS' V8 and the next time you do so you'll be channeling the WWE's announcer. Initially, it's not so much a rumble as a whole lot of noise– which had me wondering if the GTS was firing on all cylinders. And then the vario-cam plus powerplant settled into the "outer space is really big" sub-woofer special effect, ready for a couple of infantile brap, braps on the go-pedal.

Obviously enough, the Cayenne GTS is quick. Should you wish to blast the beast from zero to sixty miles per hour (hey, you're paying for it), the German SUV will oblige your accelerative aspirations in 5.7 (manual) or 6.1 (auto) seconds. That's either a half second faster than the Cayenne S or, according to Car and Driver, not. Anyway, talk about motor authority; in full kick-down, the GTS' mill issues an entirely purposely growl, winding out to the redline with unrelenting determination. Followed by a tiny upshift beep. Oh, please.

Journalists have seized on the fact that the GTS comes with a stick (as does the base V6). Our GTS didn't; the Porsche guy says his store sells fewer manuals than an iPod dealer. Although reports indicate that the Porsche's six-speed self-shifter is a sloppy cog swapper, I was left lusting for an oar to row. Yes, once again, the Cayenne's gearing sucks.

Despite [new] direct injection technology, the GTS remains insensitive to anything but major inputs. It might be OK for a Saturn slushbox to rethink on the fly, but when you're shelling out $70k (and the rest), you don't want a vehicle that shifts down a gear, then shifts down again. You can use the Porsche truck's Tiptronic buttons to manage the problem, but the GTS is supposed to be a luxury sport SUV. [Note to self: did I just say that?]

The problem is, still, weight. The GTS tips the scales at a kaffe und kuchen-loving 4949 lbs. With Porsche unable or unwilling to ditch the SUV's phenomenal off-road capability, the boffins had no choice but to gear the GTS for mileage. While Car and Driver hails the Porker's "400 mile fuel range," the EPA reckons the GTS (auto) gets 13/18 mpg. Yeah right. Mix gas and air like you just don't care and you're looking at single digits. To achieve S-Class throttle response, well, how low can you go?

At least the brute handles impeccably, in a "747 doing a barrel roll" kinda way (true story). As long as you keep the GTS' handling Nannies on duty, you'll only run out of grip if you're stupid enough not to change over to winter tires (special order, big ticket). And although my lack of "ass calibration" (Porsche guy's term) prevented me from discerning any difference in any of the GTS' three suspension modes, no matter. The ride quality on those jumbo donuts is fully commuter compatible.

I also appreciate the fact the GTS' elevated seating position allows you do things on the highway that no low-slung sports car could/should do. But I'm still left wondering if the forthcoming four-door Porsche Panamera wasn't the family car Porsche should have built in the first place.

And I still prefer the Infinit FX45 for high-end SUV fast-driving fun. [Note to self: read previous note to self.] But the Porsche Cayenne GTS is easily the best fully off-road capable sport truck money can buy– including the less dramatically styled, lag-afflicted Cayenne Turbo. Put another way, the Porsche Cayenne GTS is the world's most-fire-resistant-paper-hat-on-wheels. Now that's saying something; although I'm not exactly sure what.