Red Rockets

DEPENDING ON YOUR WANTS AND NEEDS, Porsche offers a variety of enticing weapons with which to attack on-ramps, dominate multi-lane freeways, carve favourite twisty back roads, and just to go grab milk.

Whether the call is for a fair-weather two-seater, all-wheel-drive family hauler with space for stuff and the dog, electric sedan or wagon that is kinder to the environment, or some combination of these, Porsche has the answer in the form of a spectacular sports car.

Two models that exemplify versatility and performance prowess are the Cayenne SUV and the Panamera sedan (the latter actually a hatchback) — especially the hotter Gran Turismo Sport versions that package together all the important, upgraded and enhanced driver-focused equipment, plus some slick styling to match.

Pfaff Porsche invited Provinz to take out a Cayenne GTS at the same time Porsche Canada offered up a Panamera GTS. That they both happened to be cloaked in gorgeous Carmine Red paint made for superb photo-ops, adding some much-needed colour to a particularly drab and cool day.

Adding the GTS suffix to a Cayenne or Panamera means that these four-door rocket sleds are equipped with a throaty, twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 that is tuned to 453 horsepower in the SUV, 473 in the sedan. Both crank out 457 pound-feet of torque that is available just off idle, from as low as 1,800 RPM and up to and just over 4,000 RPM. The unique temperament of this potent powerplant is that it exhibits the linear attitude of a naturally aspirated unit, a trait that is especially dear to Porsche afficionados. Punch the gas pedal and the thrust comes on strong and is not peaky like many turbo engines. Send the tach needle soaring higher to revel in the intoxicating roar that bellows from the standard sports exhaust system. Let it drop back down for some burble. Repeat as necessary until a smile spreads from ear to ear, perhaps even a chuckle or two. But word to the wise: These are not only sporty vehicles but they are also luxurious, which means they have excellent sound insulation. So to fully enjoy the sonorous exhaust notes, the windows must be dropped and the panoramic sunroof opened. The panoramic sunroof is standard on the Panamera, optional on the Cayenne.

The Panamera GTS is, literally and figuratively, geared to be sportier than the Cayenne GTS, the former channeling power via a faster-acting dual-clutch PDK transmission rather than the latter’s Tiptronic S. Both are eight-speeds. In the Tiptronic’s defence, this transmission has come a very long way since it was developed over three decades ago and first employed in the 964 911, albeit with half the gears of today. The latest-generation Tiptronic S quite closely mimics the behaviour of a PDK.

Power reaches the ground through four driven wheels, wearing 20-inch performance rubber in the Panamera, 21-inch in the Cayenne, upgradable by one inch for either. Our Cayenne tester wore gorgeous 22-inch, five-spoke Cayenne Sport Classic wheels in high-gloss black, a $3,150 option. It’s amazing how these big wheels and tires fit the muscular fenders so perfectly and don’t appear like overkill. Quite the contrary, anything smaller looks tiny.

The Panamera GTS accelerates to 100 KPH in just 3.9 seconds, the Cayenne GTS does the same feat in 4.5, not bad for vehicles that weigh over two tonnes and on par with many Porsche two-doors (a 911 Carrera S takes 3.7 seconds, a 718 Cayman S is 4.6).

These four-door GTSs drive much smaller than they are. The Panamera, in particular, with its lower ride height and lower centre of gravity, shows off dynamics that are more akin to a coupe; the Cayenne also impresses with its composure through twisty switchbacks. Neither is your grandfather’s Buick Roadmaster.

Both feature hardware that is tuned specifically for the GTS — lowered sport suspension (10 millimetres lower in the Panamera, 20 millimetres lower in the Cayenne), adaptive air suspension standard on the Panamera and optional on the Cayenne, the sports exhaust system, Porsche Active Suspension Management, as well as stronger brakes with calipers painted red.

The Sport Chrono Package is standard for the Panamera and optional for the Cayenne, while the opposite is true for Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus, which is standard for the Cayenne and optional for the Panamera. We’re sure Porsche’s marketing department did its diligent research before putting together the packaging for these two GTSs, including the PDK-Tiptronic distinction. They are different body styles that appeal to different customers, who appreciate different standard and optional features. Most buyers, however, will be happy with and find plenty sporty enough a base GTS; many further upgrades may seem superfluous. One box we would tick for the Cayenne is the Sport Chrono Package, which opens up a higher performance threshold with a steering-wheel-mounted mode switch and the ultimate “Sport Plus” level. “Sport Plus” heightens engine, transmission and chassis settings, and makes a difference that can be positively felt and enjoyed over regular “Sport.”

Two other options that can enhance performance are rear-axle steering and power steering plus.

Style-wise, GTS models receive as standard the SportDesign package with black accents for the window trim, exterior logos, quad tailpipes and multi-spoke wheels. Taillamps are darkened, headlights can be optionally darkened. Velvety alcantara dresses up the interior.

One of our favourite features of the Panamera is the speed-activated rear spoiler — it not only rises to the occasion but, as it does so, it splits into two and becomes wider, with a centre piece also rising to fill the gap.

One of our favourite features of the Panamera is the speed-activated rear spoiler — it not only rises to the occasion but, as it does so, it splits into two and becomes wider, with a centre piece also rising to fill the gap. We could watch it extend and retract all day long. Bonus: Unlike most Porsches with a variable spoiler, the Panamera’s action is framed and captured in the rearview mirror. It surely also entertains other motorists, those left in the dust.

With the Panamera GTS and Cayenne GTS, you can have your cake and eat it too. Simply look to UCR driving tours for proof, where these four-door firepowers frequently play quite nicely, and have little problem keeping up, with all the two-doors.

The biggest revelation that comes to mind after getting behind the wheel of various Porsches — different versions of the 911 from base to GT3, the Macan and Cayenne SUVs, the Panamera, the electric Taycan in assorted potencies, the Cayman and Boxster twins including flat-six and turbo four — is how well the Stuttgart sports-car DNA so seamlessly carries over to various body styles and trims. The same cannot be said for other brands, where most often their more sporting models differ so markedly from their SUVs and then differ again so greatly from their sedans and convertibles.

Let’s meet at the launch pad — the Panamera GTS and Cayenne GTS are ready for take-off. </>

2022 PORSCHE PANAMERA GTS

BASE PRICE: $148,900
TYPE: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, four-passenger, four-door hatchback
ENGINE: twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve V8, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
POWER: 473 horsepower at 6,500 RPM
TORQUE: 457 pound-feet at 1,800 to 4,000 RPM
TRANSMISSION: eight-speed dual-clutch PDK automatic with manual shifting mode
ACCELERATION 0-to-100 KPH: 3.9 seconds
WEIGHT: 4,453 pounds
Special thanks to Porsche Canada for providing this vehicle.

2022 PORSCHE CAYENNE GTS

BASE PRICE: $122,200
TYPE: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, five-passenger, four-door hatchback
ENGINE: twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve V8, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
POWER: 453 horsepower at 6,000 to 6,500 RPM
TORQUE: 457 pound-feet at 1,800 to 4,500 RPM
TRANSMISSION: eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic with manual shifting mode
ACCELERATION 0-to-100 KPH: 4.8 seconds (4.5 seconds with Sport Chrono Package)
WEIGHT: 4,729 pounds
Special thanks to Pfaff Porsche for providing this vehicle.

Photography by Christopher Hebert

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