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Does a Canyon-Carving Porsche Cayenne Make Any Sense?

2025 porsche cayenne gts
Porsche Cayenne GTS Gives Buyers What They WantPorsche

Nowadays, every Porsche model has a GTS variant. These are "Goldilocks" cars, positioned right in the center of the lineup at the crossover point between a great normal car and a serious performance car. GTS makes sense on the back of a 911 that is as livable as it is sharp or a Panamera with a high-revving engine and few compromises on the car's luxury bona fides. The badge is a bit more confusing on the Cayenne, the first Porsche SUV to ever wear the modern GTS name. The latest Cayenne GTS is faster, more capable, and more fun than ever, but that only makes the existence of it all the more confusing.

The new $124,900 Cayenne GTS slots right in between the Cayenne S and Cayenne Turbo in performance and price. And at 5000 pounds, it isn't a lightweight. Heavy as it is, the medium-hot Cayenne is a serious performer thanks to lessons learned on the 'Ring-lapping Cayenne Turbo GT. The pivot bearings on the front axle come directly from that car, adding more than half a degree of negative camber to the front wheels and making for more satisfying steering feel and a more instantaneous bite every time it turns into a corner.

2025 porsche cayenne gts
Porsche

The twin-turbo V-8 produces 493 horsepower, a modest number for a car priced against the 603 hp Mercedes GLE 63 S AMG. That's still 40 hp more than the last Cayenne GTS, and more importantly, it is more than enough to pull the all-wheel-drive Cayenne out of a corner satisfyingly hard. This is not a car/truck/SUV/whatever that's only about straight-line performance, but the engine provides enough power to reach big speeds as quickly as a driver desires.

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A GTS-specific two-chamber air suspension with two-valve dampers provides greater focus on corner-holding performance than the more mild Cayenne models. That system (Porsche Active Suspension Management, or PASM) works in concert with a bunch of excellent technologies that Porsche has given terrible names, from standard torque vectoring (PTV+) to optional active roll stabilization (PDCC) and an all-wheel drive system (PTM) with new-for-GTS dedicated water cooling. Those systems work with the optional four-wheel steering to cheat physics and make the lumbering Cayenne comfortable along mountain roads.

2025 porsche cayenne gts
Porsche

This is what the market demands, of course. The super SUV segment is rich with both interest and actual money right now, with buyers willing to spend something like $140,000 on a well-optioned SUV capable of excelling during commutes, crossing continents, or dominating great back roads. That makes the Cayenne GTS more than an impressive oddity; it is a major point where one of the world's great performance car brands meets the world's strangest and most particular performance car buyers.

What the car actually does on those great roads is important. The GTS lets a driver relish in the fruits of modern engineering while throwing a 5000 lb SUV into the corners where 911s thrive. The GTS-specific air suspension settings and optional roll stabilization tools keep the chassis in control and create an experience so sharp that it feels uncanny. Steering is precise and, in contrast to the slower Cayenne S, as weighty as one would hope from both a performance car and a portly vehicle. Optional carbon ceramic brakes provide startling grabbing power, enough to jolt any passenger awake when barreling into a switchback. Like the last Cayenne GTS, this Cayenne is in Porsche's performance portfolio and not merely a profit-making tool to fund the brand's sports cars.

2025 porsche cayenne gts
Porsche

The GTS is, though, about compromise. The Cayenne GTS is a little bit less comfortable than its more affordable siblings. The grabby brakes are a big part of that, as are GTS-specific features like an Alcantara-style race-tex steering wheel and optional lightweight seats. All of that can be optioned away for a GTS more like the tamer S or base Cayenne, but most GTS buyers will not do that for one simple reason: The GTS is for people who want the GTS.

Porsche says that GTS buyers make up just 10 percent of the Cayenne sales pool. Those buyers are two years younger on average, are more often male, and are paying 27 percent more for their car than the average Cayenne buyer. The coupe body style, one of the best SUV "coupe" looks on the market, is also more popular with GTS buyers. That model comes with no middle seat, compromised rear headroom, and diminished trunk space. The GTS coupe take rate is 42 percent anyway.

2025 porsche cayenne gts
Porsche

Understanding the Cayenne GTS is about understanding that buyer. All Cayennes are a compromise between what a mid-sized SUV is supposed to be and what a Porsche is supposed to be, but the GTS makes additional sacrifices to get closer to the brand's best. The Cayenne GTS is brilliant at that, but it feels like a solution to a problem nobody has. Thinking in problems will not help you understand this car. It is for people who want something very specific, buyers not at all concerned about whether or not the idea of a $130,000 canyon-carving SUV is irrational. Buyers who want exactly what the Cayenne GTS is will get exactly what they want.

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