2008 Porsche Cayenne GTS Review

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
2008 porsche cayenne gts review

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.

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2 of 46 comments
  • Captain Neek Captain Neek on May 06, 2008

    FUGLY. That's all.

  • Grifonik Grifonik on May 12, 2008

    Building this disgustingly pathetic piece of everyday drivability for upper middle class soccer moms has got to be tops of the "how to destroy your brand reputation in 3.6 seconds flat". Are they taking queues from Detroit? Second worst Porche decision ever... making the second one of these vehicles. Third worst Porche decision ever... making the third... etc.. etc. #51,498 (and counting) on the list has got to be waging class warfare against the poor Cayman. One turbo short of purchase decision for almost everybody that looked at it.

  • Tassos The EQS is the best looking BEV, better than even the only Tesla I would ever consider (the S) and more luxurious inside etc etcThe self driving features will come in handy when I'm 110 and my eyesight and reaction times start to suffer.But that's four decades away, and only Tim recommends 40 year old "used cars"
  • Tassos "Baby, Baby light my fire!""Oh God please give me a Kia Forte" --Janis Joplin
  • Tassos The fugly looks of any Subaru, and especially the non-sporty non-elegant, fugly, low-rent looks and interior of the WRX are alone a sufficient turnoff to never want to own one.One can be a 100% car enthusiast but ALSO demand a beautiful AND luxurious vehicle one can be truly proud of and which makes one very happy every time one drives it.The above is obviously totally foreign to Subaru Designers and managers.Αnd who cares if they sell all they make? this is 100% worthless bragging, since they hardly make ANY. ALL of Subaru's models together, all dozen of them, sell less than the top selling Toyota or Honda or even Tesla sells. ANd furthermore, if you have the intellectual horsepower to understand it, bulldude, which I am 99% sure you sure as hell do not, it is NOT about the sales units, it is not even about the sales revenue.It is all about the P R O F I T S.Am I going slow enough for you, bulldude?
  • Thehyundaigarage Am I the only one that sees a Peugeot 508?
  • Lou_BC I realized it wasn't EV's burning by the absence of the usual suspects.