Porsche Cayenne GTS

    Porsche’s ultimate assault on the off-road arena was the impressive Cayenne Turbo S, an uncompromising SUV-cum-sport wagon that established the performance standard for its vehicle class. Now, with the Cayenne GTS, Porsche offers an SUV for the purist whose other ride is a GT3.

    A normally aspirated, 4.8-liter V-8 with 405 hp on tap acquits itself admirably on- and off-road, though you might choose a GTS for spirited road driving alone. The lowered ride height, for better handling and cornering potential, makes the GTS an extremely sactisfying car—let alone SUV—to drive. Think of it as a sport sedan with a booster seat.

    Mention must also be made of the Cayenne GTS’ styling touches and finish. The interior features materials and details familiar to 911 lovers. The front and rear sections are similar to the Cayenne Turbo’s, but an elongated roof spoiler and badging set the $71,600 GTS apart. The GTS tested for this story was further distinguished by its Nordic Gold Metallic paint job, a $3,000-plus option that turned many heads.

    Curiously, Porsche offers a 6-speed manual transmission for the hair-shirt crowd. It is rubbery and vague, compared with the excellent and proven 6-speed Tiptronic S, which seems a natural choice for a vehicle as refined and sporty as this one.

    Porsche, www.porsche.com

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