Flight Editor Dave Unwin swaps his flying suit for driving gloves and takes a Porsche Cayenne GTS down to the Goodwood Revival.
When Porsche UK offered me one of their big, brutish Cayenne GTSs in which to pop down to Goodwood, I was certainly intrigued. Having been a Porsche aficionado over the years and driven many different models, from the classic 911 to the nimble Cayman, I was more than interested to find out whether the Cayenne would uphold the finest traditions of the Porsche breed.
First impression? When compared to its more agile cousins, the Porsche Cayenne, without overstating the obvious, is a bit of a beast. However, although tank-like in profile, with the aerodynamics of a brick wall, it’s no sluggard. Its 4.8 litre, V-8 transmits a healthy 405hp – enough to propel this five-seater from 0 to 60 in around six seconds, before topping out at an impressive 157mph. All those horses are transmitted through a high-performance, six-speed, manual gearbox, although you can opt for Porsches automatic Tiptronic box, with the benchmark standard sprint (100 km/h 62 mph) requiring just 6.1 seconds. Not bad, youll agree, for something that looks like it’s designed to run over a foxhole.
While the ability to go fast remains paramount for a cars desirability, the capacity to stop just as promptly on todays crowded and speed trapped roads is equally advantageous, especially considering the Cayennes considerable bulk – all 2.2 tonnes of it. Fortunately the GTSs red-caliper discs brakes more than meet the task. Indeed, the Cayennes performance specs make it possible to hit the road first from the lights but still pull up in plenty of time just as that doddery OAP totters her way across the pedestrian crossing.
Unlike its fellow stable mates, the Cayenne S and Turbo, the GTS comes with a lowered, high-performance, steel-sprung suspension as standard and PASM. And what a clever little box of tricks the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) is. Assisted by a battery of sensors, its able to electronically control the damping system to suit your current driving conditions, so bored with sitting in that twenty-five mile M25 tailback? Surely that field and stream could easily be breached to create a new shortcut to the A3? And, because the PASM works continuously to monitor acceleration, steering angle, brake pressure and engine torque, even when you smash through the crash barrier, not a problem when your tonnage is up there with a self-propelled gun and the road surface changes from black top to uncharted, PASM automatically selects the optimum configuration. Of course, if you’re a luddite and like to do things manually, you can always stab your finger in the direction of the three initial driver selections, Comfort, Normal and Sport.
Frankly, at first, I was a little sceptical about the benefits of the PASM but, having thoroughly tested it, I’m forced to concur – no, even admit a grudging respect, that it did just what it says on the tin – or fin, in this case.
Aesthetically, the jury is still out and one suspects hung for the foreseeable future. After all, the Cayenne hardly appeals to the vegetarian brigade and with a fuel consumption of 15.1 mpg combined, you’d probably be best off taking up a sideline in crude oil futures. While the interior remains more subdued than sublime, Porsche, as is their way, never fail to pay attention to detail. I was particularly enamoured with the stainless steel door sill guards, interior leather trim and, most especially, the 12-way electrically adjustable sports seats with added lateral support (my back still hasn’t recovered since the last time I flew an aircraft with an ejector seat).
Nevertheless, when you start that big V8 up and hear the distant thunder rolling out of the dual-tube chrome tailpipes (standard on the GTS) you know that not only will you look good off-road, you’ll look just as cool off the Kings Road, SW1.