Where the Cayenne diverts from any signs of 911 influence is under the bonnet. Once a V8 was a strange oddity for Porsche, only found in a series of slightly awkwardly styled coupes built in the ‘80s and early-‘90s, ones which now have a cult following. But vees have been the mainstay of the Cayenne throughout its life. No Cayenne has ever had a traditional Porsche flat-six, preferring the power of a V6 or V8 (some early cars had a VR6). In the GTS it’s the 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 that can be found in various forms across a lot of different VAG group cars. Here it has 460PS (338kW) and 620Nm (457lb ft) on offer. Driving all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Suspension is aluminium multi-link both front and rear, with PSM (Porsche Stability management) and PTM (Porsche Traction Management) as standard.
That means a surprisingly sprightly drive for a car that weighs 2,200kg. After nearly 20 years of Cayenne-ing we really shouldn’t be shocked that these cars feel so Porsche-y, but in reality it never fails to slightly blow our minds. The sprint to 62mph is achieved from a standstill in just 4.5 seconds and the Coupe GTS will hit 168mph where it’s allowed. The surprising thing is that you can attack the roads in the big Porsche. It isn’t that the car feels light, or disguises its weight, not in the way that a Stelvio Quadrifoglio pretends to be a big hot hatch (although the Alfa is 500kg lighter), it’s more that it doesn’t mind that the mass is there. You feel that the car is heavy, but not uncontrollable. It’s more that every movement and communication inspires more confidence. The throttle response is good and the weighty steering is where that confidence comes from, that and the fact that roll, while impossible the eliminate, is controlled.
Traction from the all-wheel-drive system is excellent, with a nose that digs and rear that pulls as you hunt for grip through a corner. It’s all sound-tracked by that big V8, which rumbles along to your every move. We’ve driven cars with this very same engine from several brands, and this must be the car in which it sounds at its very best.