Some would say the Cayenne GTS suffers from middle child syndrome. It’s not difficult to imagine why; the car slots in neatly, in almost every aspect, between the Cayenne S and Cayenne Turbo siblings. Although the GTS looks very much like its Turbo brethren – flared wheel arches, big-intake front bumper, high gloss black trim, darkened LED taillights, quad exhaust pipes; it is closer related to the S model mechanically. And whilst most people wouldn’t be able to tell the GTS apart from the Turbo, sharp eyed readers will note the car’s matte black exhaust tips, and slightly different rear spoiler.

 

Unlike the previous generation Cayenne which took many cues from the 911, the new car eschews a more individual styling. However, despite looking sleeker than the car it replaces, it is actually bigger than its predecessor – wider track, longer wheelbase, and even taller than before. It’s lost a couple of pounds too, with Porsche shaving weight from the chassis, body work, as well as the all-wheel-drive system.

Peek under the bonnet, and you’re greeted by a hulking 4.8-litre naturally aspirated V8. This is the same engine used in the S, except up-rated for more power. Performance figures stand at 420bhp/515Nm, delivered to all four corners via eight-speed Tiptronic box that enables the GTS to sprint from zerotohundred in 5.7 seconds, towards an unrestricted top speed of 261km/h. These numbers border on sports car territory, except the Cayenne is a full-sized SUV, and seeing it in action, scooting toward the horizon rapidly, can be somewhat comical.

We’ve never quite experienced a performance SUV before, so driving the Cayenne GTS was an eye-opener of sorts. For one, the GTS drives more like a sports car than it does a heavy, lumbering SUV. Porsche has done an incredible job of hiding its weight; the way it corners will shock most people, there’s little body roll, plenty of grip, and stops with complete confidence. Most of the power is sent to the rear wheels by default, with the torque vectoring system capable of splitting torque to any one side – left, right, front, or rear; for sharper handling. Its steering is well weighted, heavier in corners, communicating well with your palms.

Ride quality is on the stiffer side of things; to create a sporty SUV, there has to be some compromise. The GTS chassis rides about an inch lower than the S, and even with PASM (Porsche’s electronic adjustable damper control) set to Normal, felt harsh over pimply surfaces typical of Malaysian roads. I suspect that our car’s optional 21-inch wheels didn’t help with the jarring ride.

Since we couldn’t find an ideal setting for a regular drive, we decided to just leave everything in Sport mode. At its sportiest setting, we had the impression the GTS would feel more at home on track than it does on road. That said, I have to admit we had a silly smile plastered on our faces during our entire test drive, so I suppose the harsher ride is justified.

Worthy of mention also is the eight-speed Tiptronic S gearbox – seamlessly quick, super sharp, and even more impressive… always in the correct gear, to match inputs from your right foot. The GTS is the sort of car that is capable of being driven in almost every imaginable scenario – happy to amble along for your grocery trip, easy to navigate in traffic and, this is the best part, completely intoxicating when you want to unleash its full potential.

Stopping power comes in the form of Porsche’s PCCB; identifiable through the car’s yellow calipers (red for steels). Porsche’s ceramic brakes have evolved significantly over time, and although I typically prefer steels for regular city driving, I find PCCBs easy to modulate without the need for proper warming up before giving resolute bite.

 

Have we also mentioned how the car sounds? Like most recent Porsches, the GTS benefits from Sound Symposer which channels intake noise from the exhaust pipes to the A-pillars in the cabin. It sounds good inside, but is bloody brilliant on the outside; the visceral exhaust tone making the GTS feel properly alive. There were many instances where I couldn’t help but grin as I blipped the throttle, and scanned my surrounding for heads that snapped towards our green GTS.

Performance aside, the inside of a Porsche has always been comfortable and the GTS likewise, does not disappoint. There’s plenty of leather mixed with Alcantara which helps to distinguish the GTS from its lesser siblings. We found the seats to be very supportive too, gripping us well through enthusiastic corners. The center console is a typical Porsche affair, as is the 5-panel instrument cluster.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: whether you’re familiar with the interior of modern Porsches or not, it doesn’t take very much effort to figure things out in the GTS. It’s a good mix of luxurious detailing with sporty cues, as every Porsche should be.

Base price for a Cayenne GTS starts from RM800k, with the final price really up to the discretion of the buyer. A fully-loaded car like the one we tested, complete with optional paint and GTS package, will bring the final bill close to the RM1mil mark, but the crucial question remains: does the Cayenne GTS deliver what Porsche promises? The answer to that is a resounding yes. This is a proper driver’s car, albeit in the form of an SUV.

We’ve driven other cars that tip the scales past 2 tons before, but Porsche have weaved their magic here, gifting the GTS with physics defying agility. It’s the sort of car that begs to be driven, is utterly satisfying, and is one car that we wished we had a bit more time with.

Although the GTS isn’t the most ballistic Cayenne (that accolade remains firmly with the Turbo, and when the time comes… Turbo S), it certainly is the most well-balanced. The sort of car that will appeal to folks who are in the market for a sports car, yet do not want to compromise performance for a boot and space in the rear for baby seats. It has off-road capabilities as well, but we didn’t test it out as we felt few owners would be willing to abuse their cars, especially with such a hefty price tag. But Porsche being Porsche, we’re sure the Cayenne will be more than able to deliver.

Major props must be given to Porsche for imbuing all their cars, even their volume selling Cayenne, with driver appeal. There’s no doubt that the GTS is one of the best handling SUVs available for sale right now, and is clear testament that Porsche makes some of the best sports cars in the world.