In Porsche 911 speak, the GTS label defines a variant that walks a fine line between everyday use and the harder edge of its track-biased GT3 and RS counterparts.

In the case of the Panamera and Cayenne, however, the GTS moniker is applied to a more focused, normally aspirated version that falls between the S and the autobahn-storming Turbo models.

Having raved about the Panamera GTS, we were eager to discover if Porsche had been able to work the same magic on their second-gen Cayenne. With 15766 cars sold, comprising 17% of overall Cayenne sales, it’s certainly a successful formula.

The 4.8-liter V8 has been tuned to deliver 20hp and 11 lb-ft more than the Cayenne S, taking the big numbers to 420hp at 6500rpm, with380 lb-ft at 3500rpm.

New inlet cams provide 1mm more valve lift, while the remapped ECU has slightly more aggressive ignition and valve timing to provide a steeper torque curve and improved throttle response. The rev limiter now cuts in at 6700rpm.

A modified air intake uses two extra filter housings and valves that open at 3500rpm for a more sporty soundtrack. The system boosts airflow by 3%, allowing the motor to breathe better at high revs.

The sports exhaust has a larger diameter to reduce back pressure by 30%, with another flap that opens fully under hard acceleration to increase the noise level. The new ECU also provides a slight backfire when you lift off sharply, adding to the overall feel.

The ECU on the eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic was also fettled for faster response. Against the stopwatch, the GTS took 5.7sec for the 0-62mph sprint, 13.3sec to reach 100mph, and top speed is 162mph. Fuel consumption is improved by 23%, with emissions down 24%.

To experience the car, Porsche brought us to a small circuit in Austria, where we could wring the neck of its 4596 lb SUV. But summer in Europe can mean rain, and we had plenty of it. The Cayenne’s 4WD made the most of it, allowing us to drift on the slippery tarmac.

With either steel or optional air suspension, the GTS has a 24mm (US version 20mm) lower static ride height than the S, with PASM active damping adapting to conditions. Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control is a further option.

The greater offsets of the 20" RS Spyder wheels increase the track by 13mm front and 17mm rear respectively, bringing the 275/45 tires out to the wider fenders.

Visually linked by deeper side skirts, these fenders, Turbo-style front bumper, rear roof spoiler and lower ride height help counter the drag of the big wheels, maintaining the same 0.37 Cd of the Cayenne S.

Inside, the GTS includes sports seats and steering wheel with paddle shifters, GTS script on the rev counter and carbon-look inserts on the doors, dash and console.

On the sodden track, the steering feel helps you hold the car just short of the onset of understeer when trail braking into a bend. It’s easy to balance the car at this point until you can increase throttle when the bend opens out. Boot it harder and you can exit with a flourish of oversteer if you so wish.

The crisp throttle response makes driving on the limit easy. You can meter power with more finesse than the Turbo, whose massive torque would easily overwhelm grip in these circumstances.

On the highway, the GTS retains the Cayenne attributes of a comfortable, refined cruiser with a panoramic view from its lofty cabin. That said, the car rides significantly better with the optional air suspension.

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