photography courtesy of Porsche


SPLIT PERSONALITY: The Porsche Cayenne GTS looks like a regular SUV, but handles like a nimble sports car.
On paper, the 2008 Porsche Cayenne GTS doesn’t make sense. It’s a 405-horsepower behemoth—one with a 4.8-liter V8 engine—that weighs nearly 5,000 pounds. It gets about 13 miles a gallon. From some angles, it’s a glorified minivan. It shouldn’t be sexy, but it is. 

Curbside, the front end gets the turbo treatment (the GTS styling has larger intakes and a sportier look than the regular Cayenne).

But the back is pure soccer mom, with ample room for groceries and sporting gear, plus a rear door that raises with a touch of the key fob. Sitting in the driver’s seat, it was easy to forget that the Cayenne is an SUV.

The cavernous rear disappeared, and the six-speed manual transmission became the center of an extremely luxurious universe; almost everything—the ceiling, armrest, the inside of the door handle—was covered in Alcantara suede.

Without passengers, the Cayenne acted like its more svelte sibling, the Carrera. Only when it was filled with people and taking up almost the entire width of the HOV lane did I remember it was really an SUV. 

The Cayenne is also a looker. Little boys hung out of car windows at stoplights, gaping at the cherry-red brake calipers behind the 21-inch, 10-spoke wheels. Grown-ups did the same.

At a crowded car-racing event, an overflowing parking lot was no match for the Cayenne. When I asked for rock-star parking, the attendant said, “How much is it worth to you?” I low-balled her at $10.

When you drive a car like the Porsche Cayenne, people assume you know the value of a dollar. A ride like that is worth every penny.