2013 Porsche Cayenne GTS Road Test Review
2013 Porsche Cayenne GTS is the high-performance driver's crossover
Scores High: Great drivetrain sounds, amazing performance for an SUV, functional family utility
Scores Low: High price, poor fuel economy
Total Car Score Analysis
The 2013 Porsche Cayenne GTS may not be the most powerful and most expensive Cayenne in the model range, but it is arguably the most engaging to drive. Based on the Cayenne S, the 2013 Cayenne GTS uses the same 4.8-liter V8 engine, but this version is tuned for 20 additional horsepower. The GTS also gets a shorter final gear ratio, a lowered ride height, a more intimidating exhaust note and a distinctive look, all of which are meant to make the 2013 Porsche Cayenne GTS the most emotional and performance-oriented version of this luxury SUV. We drove the Cayenne GTS in the Austrian Alps and learned that Porsche has done an excellent job of adding zest to its exclusive family hauler.
Starting with a Cayenne S, Porsche incorporated several exterior changes to make the Cayenne GTS sportier – if not downright aggressive – in appearance. The changes start with a 20-millimeter lower ride height as well as the front fascia, hood, and LED headlights from the Cayenne Turbo. The fascia also includes larger air intakes, but they're blocked off because the GTS doesn't need as much airflow. The headlights bezels are rendered in black.
Along its flanks the 2013 Cayenne GTS features wider wheel arches to sit flush with the standard RS Spyder wheels. These use backspacing to provide a wider footprint, increasing the front track by 13 mm and rear track by 17 mm. The Cayenne GTS also gets the Porsche Design side skirts and black trim around the windows. Out back, the GTS features flat black exhaust pipes, a gloss black trim strip on the tailgate, and a split rear spoiler.
The latest generation of the Cayenne dropped some 700 pounds from the first generation in the name of performance. With the GTS Porsche aims to improve performance – and the emotion that performance elicits even further. Engine response and acceleration are improved thanks to a new intake camshaft, revised engine tuning, quicker shifts with shorter gears, along with a shorter final drive ratio. These modifications raise peak horsepower from 400 to 420 and max torque from 369 to 380 pound-feet. On the street, the result is a more willing and ready engine, with right-now responses and a zero-to-60 mph time that has been cut by two tenths, to 5.4 seconds. The Cayenne GTS is certainly quick and it can reach a top speed of 162 mph, but it's still a far cry from the Turbo, which rockets to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and tops out at 173 mph. The Cayenne GTS comes with seamless start/stop technology that works well with the 8-speed automatic transmission, but don't expect stellar fuel economy (15 mpg city, 22 mpg highway). This tranny provides smooth, immediate downshifts to deliver the extra oomph needed for passing whenever your right foot asks for it. The shifts are up to five percent quicker than in other Cayennes, but they aren't as quick or crisp as those of the PDK automated manual transmission offered in other Porsches.
The engine is fairly quiet at idle yet it emits a pronounced growl during acceleration. Want more aural feedback? Press the magic “Sport” button on the Cayenne’s center console and two things happen, both of which make engine noise a big part of the driving experience. First, two flaps open in the exhaust system, which makes the sound more prominent from outside. Second, a contraption Porsche calls its Sound Symposer opens a channel in each A-pillar to allow the engine's intake pulses into the cabin. Floor the throttle and the resulting sound is akin to what you hear while watching a NASCAR race (though it's not quite as loud as being there). The rumbling growl is music to a car guy's ears, but odds are the wife will tell you to turn it off so she can hear herself think.
We had the opportunity to drive the Cayenne GTS on both a racetrack and through some twisty mountain roads. We found it to be one of the most composed and confident crossovers we’ve experienced. The steering is quick and direct, though not overly heavy. The GTS features larger brakes than the Cayenne S, and they are strong and predictable. For those who want even more stopping power Porsche offers carbon ceramic brakes.
Suspension enhancements contribute to the Cayenne GTS’ handling prowess when compared to the already agile S model. The GTS comes standard with a sport-tuned air suspension, adjustable shock absorbers and brake-based rear torque vectoring. The air suspension allows five different height levels; the vehicle can be raised to clear obstacles when off-roading or lowered to make it easier to get into and improve handling. The Cayenne’s torque vectoring technology further helps rotate the vehicle through corners by sending additional power to the rear outside wheel. Finally, the adjustable shocks can be set for ride comfort or sportier handling and optional active anti-roll bars reduce body lean, helping the vehicle carve through turns in an almost unnatural manner.
Interior Design and Function
The GTS interior is a bit sportier than the Cayenne S cabin, but it remains just as functional. It also turns up the dial on Porsche's considerable quality. To the S model's standard leather upholstery, the GTS adds suede-like alcantara for the headliner, center armrest, door panels and seat inserts. The seats have only eight-way adjustments, but they get the thick bolsters from the top-line Cayenne Turbo seats (which include grippy inserts to keep occupants from sliding around while they slide their GTS through corners). The control layout features a rising center console, replete with a multitude of buttons, which can make operating the various cabin functions somewhat challenging for beginners.
As far as pure practicality goes, the Cayenne GTS offers plenty of room for five passengers, including a comfortable and roomy second-row seat. The cargo area has a useful 62.9 cubic feet of space with the rear seat folded down, and 23.7 cubic feet with the rear seats up. The cargo area is made more versatile by a divider that can be moved fore and aft to separate items or keep them from sliding around.
Primary Features and Options
The 2013 Porsche Cayenne GTS comes standard with an air suspension, cruise control, a universal garage door opener, power windows and locks, power heated exterior mirrors, remote keyless entry, a power liftgate, a sunroof and automatic headlights.
The Cayenne GTS’ impressive performance can be further augmented with Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control active roll bars, Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus with an electronically controlled rear differential lock, and carbon ceramic brakes. Other options include a high-end Burmester audio system, rearview camera, front and rear park assist, panoramic sunroof, trailer hitch, adaptive cruise control, Lane Change Assist, heated and ventilated front seats and four-zone automatic climate control. Buyers can also personalize the look of their interiors with numerous trim options.
It’s Perfect For…
For those looking for maximum sportiness from the already sporty Cayenne, the 2013 Porsche Cayenne GTS is a clear choice, and a bargain at that. Most of the features that define the GTS are available for the S model, but they are packaged at a discount of about $10,000 in the GTS trim. It's still a pricey crossover at $82,050, but buyers get a vehicle with all of the utility of a family hauler teamed with the performance of an accomplished performance car.
Vehicle Tested: 2013 Porsche Cayenne GTS
Base MSRP of Test Vehicle: $82,050
Options on Test Vehicle: Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus ($1490), 21-inch wheels ($2280), Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control active roll bars ($3510), Destination Charge ($975)
MSRP of Test Vehicle (including destination charge): $90,305
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The manufacturer provided Total Car Score this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Photos Courtesy of the manufacturer.