I’m going to tell you right now that if you’re in the market for an upscale SUV and price is no object, get yourself a 2013 Porsche Cayenne GTS. It delivers on every level. It’s roomy enough to haul people and stuff. It’s got just the right look and feel for a luxury car. And it’s got plenty of performance. 420 horsepower will really move you down the road.
In fact, the Porsche Cayenne GTS only one has fault: the cost. Base price for a Cayenne this year is around $82,000. Of course that doesn’t get you all the way to the edge of the Cayenne’s sporty or luxury envelopes. My test car was equipped with so many options (all necessary, of course) that its final sticker was $123,265. And that didn’t include stuff like the $8,800 ceramic brakes. If writing a check that large requires a big gulp, then you’d better move along. If you’re comfortable living in that neighborhood, then let’s talk about why you’ll love the Cayenne.
To start with, it’s a performance car. It has a 4.8 liter V8 that pumps out 420 horsepower. No turbo needed. That’s about 20 more horsepower than the Cayenne S version. I like the way the power comes on. You feel like it’s behind you pushing. It’s not out in front on the edge of control. It also doesn’t feel like its struggling to keep up. It’s behind you all the way, urging you go a little faster. The eight speed transmission has a solid sporty feel. In city traffic you feel it smoothly working the gears in just the right torque range. Slam down the throttle while getting on the freeway and it changes shift points appropriately. Porsche says it will do 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds with a top speed comes of 162 mph.
One intriguing thing about the engine is the Auto Stop Start mode. In an effort to save fuel, when you stop a traffic light the engine shuts off. Take your foot off the brake, and it instantly restarts the engine. There is no hesitation and most of the time you don’t even notice. If you put your foot back on the brake, the engine will stay running. It’s as if it senses that you’re not quite sure whether you’re planning to go or not. The system works great except for one small glitch. Every time the engine would restart, the radio would cut out. It was only for a moment, but I did find it rather annoying. I’m surprised the Porsche engineers let that one slip by. I also wonder how quickly are you going to burn out starter motors. I’m sure they’re pretty hefty which means they’ll last but will be probably be really expensive to replace. Intelligently, it won’t activate if the outside temperature is really hot, or the battery is low.
Mileage is reasonable. 15 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway (although my dash display said I was getting 21.5 mpg during much of my time with the car).
Most people aren’t going to push the corning envelope with an SUV, but since it is a Porsche you’ll want to know that the GTS sits nearly an inch lower and has stiffer dampers to control roll.
Inside, my wife fell in love with the seats immediately. The leather and suede had just the right construction to help you feel completely comfortable. We took another couple to dinner one night and they felt the same way about the back seats as well. Everyone liked the big panoramic glass top that stretched the length of the roof.
A word of warning. This is not a car you can just jump in and go. After you write that hefty check, don’t leave the dealership until you’ve gotten a thorough training. Everything is just slightly different in this car. It’s not a problem, but it’s not something you want to try to figure out on the freeway. The dashboard has a lot going on, but it didn’t bother me. You just want to make sure you understand it. I found the dashboard clock interesting. It has a giant sweeping second-hand, but only a small inset for the actual time. Cool, but not very practical.
The GTS has some styling tweaks like a double-wing roof spoiler, slightly wider fenders and four black exhaust tips. But most people will be hard pressed to notice the difference without seeing the GTS on the back of the car.
Is it worth $123,265? A lot of cars will get you there with nearly as much comfort and style as the Cayenne. But none of those will match it, and that’s why some folks are willing to pay more. I just wish I was one of them.