Six years after the debut of the 5000-pound Cayenne SUV – Porsche’s “cash cow,” in the ironic words of company official Stefan Marschall – the truck has helped propel Porsche to record sales and profits. With the upcoming launches of its four-door Panamera in 2009 and its Cayenne Hybrid by 2010, Porsche will soon step even further from its traditional role as a sports car builder.
Meanwhile, the new GTS is the freshest derivation of Porsche’s people carrier, slotting between Cayennes S and Turbo and boasting a standard six-speed manual transmission – the first time a V-8/manual Cayenne has been offered stateside. Any hopes we had that the manual might magically transform the Cayenne into a true sports car were dashed by its long throws and truck-ish nature. Nonetheless, a GTS with a manual transmission is more fun to drive than one with an automatic, and it’s pretty cool that Porsche will offer Americans a manual at all.
An upgraded intake system not only helps boost power by 20 hp over the S, it also makes the V-8 engine sound extra ferocious. The GTS gets a fancier interior with lots of Alcantara and aluminum trim, and it borrows its LED parking lights and front and rear fascias from the Cayenne Turbo. With extra power; a lower, stiffer suspension; sportier looks; and a manual gearbox, the GTS is almost worth the $11,400 premium over the Cayenne S.