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    Cayenne GTS test by Clarkson

    From the time magazine Clarkson about the Cayenne GTS:

    If you were to find yourself on the fearsome Nürburgring with a pressing reason to complete a lap in about nine minutes, the new Porsche Cayenne GTS would do nicely. It really is extremely fast. Similarly, if you were to become involved in a life or death battle with 50 tons of fire-breathing Challenger tank on the Bovington proving ground, I feel certain that this, the biggest Porsche of them all, would handle the punishment without falling into a million pieces.

    However, if - and this seems more likely - you live in London and you want a car that can take five people in comfort, then the GTS is completely hopeless. No, really. It doesn't work and on top of that, it isn't welcome.

    In the olden days, when I lived in London, many of the more idiotic boroughs erected signs explaining that you were entering a nuclear-free zone. I never knew why this was necessary because, so far as I could tell, these boroughs were also free from dinosaurs and spacemen. So why single out the absence of atom bombs?

    Of course, today, dizzy antinuclear campaigners have become eco-mentalists and so, for the most part, the antinuke signs have been replaced with a million new ones which explain that you are entering a low-emission zone. Plainly this isn't true. The Yorkshire Dales are a low-emission zone. So is the middle of the Sahara desert. But London? I think not.

    Quite apart from the shops and businesses, you have all the low-emission signs that had to be mined, smelted, fashioned, painted and then distributed on every road in every suburb by an army of council vans. Compared with the emissions generated by this huge undertaking, a Porsche Cayenne simply isn't a problem at all.

    But that's by the by. The city doesn't want it, you're going to be made to pay Pounds1,000 a year in road tax and Pounds125 a week if you drive into London, and even if you get there there'll be the biggest problem of them all. It's just too big.

    Honestly, I took the Cayenne to Wandsworth the other night and it was the most miserable drive of my life. Frankly I'd rather have gone there on my hands and knees.

    The streets, with cars parked on either side, are just about wide enough for two small cars to pass. But there are no small cars in Wandsworth. For reasons that are unclear, everyone has a Volvo XC90. This meant I spent half the evening backing up, looking for a parking space in which I could wait while the lady with lovely hair coming the other way squeezed by.

    But there are no parking spaces. You hear stories of people not using their cars because they know that when they come home again, they will be unable to park. I can believe it.

    Fifteen years ago, I lived in Wandsworth, very briefly, and things were bad. Sometimes I'd have to park in the next street. But now that even more of the already titchy houses have been converted into flats, bringing more people and more cars, and even more people have turned their front lawns into car lots and everyone has an SUV, the situation is simply impossible. Often the nearest parking space is in Oslo.

    Eventually, after an hour of reversing out of everyone's way and being jolted out of my seat by an endless series of speed humps that are completely pointless when nobody ever exceeds 2mph, I did find a spot that was handily located just 16 miles from the party I was attending. But unfortunately, it was exactly 4in smaller than the Cayenne. This meant I had to phone my hosts and explain that I'd try to get there for the coffee and mints.

    This must happen to Wandsworthites all the time. And I'm sorry but anyone who buys a huge car knowing it will never fit into a space is certifiably mad. Think how much life you're wasting by driving round and round the block. Think of all the other things you could be doing instead. And while you're doing that, we'll have a think about what can be done.

    I've always argued that market forces dictate behaviour. That there's no need for congestion charges and so on because people will take only so much hassle before they'll leave the car at home and use an alternative. Not the bus obviously; that would be ridiculous. But a scooter perhaps, or a sedan chair carried by four greased Egyptians.

    Strangely, however, it seems I'm wrong. Wandsworth went past bursting point years ago but the people there are still buying idiotic cars that won't fit. I guess image down there is important and that if you don't have the right hair and the right accent you will be sent to Coventry. Or Tooting as it's known in those parts.

    You can be a convicted fraudster in Wandsworth and still engage with your social group. But you cannot have a Ford Fiesta.

    Some might suggest the government should act, but really it is not the job of a state to decide who drives what sort of car. That's just meddlesome nonsense. I therefore propose that Wandsworth and Clapham commons should be paved and turned into car parks.

    One of two things will happen as a result. Either the plan will go ahead and in a stroke the parking problem will be solved. Or there will be such an outcry that everyone will switch to a smaller car, which will make the scheme unnecessary.

    If it works there, it could be extended to Hyde and Regent's parks and then, in the fullness of time, to every green space in every town and city in the land. You tell the people of Harrogate that the Stray is to be turned into a car park and see how long it takes for everyone to change their Volvo XC90 into a Toyota Aygo.

    But anyway, back to the GTS. We've established that it works on the Nürburgring and on a tank proving ground. We also know that it's useless in a big and busy city. But what about elsewhere?

    In many ways, this car is a bit odd. I mean, the Cayenne was built to be a big, tall off-road car. You pay a premium for that height. And now along comes a version which is Pounds17,000 more than the base model, precisely because it's not quite so tall.

    The one I drove sat on air suspension rather than conventional steel springs. This is an option and not necessarily a good one because air is simply not as good at the job as metal. Try this simple experiment if you don't believe me.

    First of all, jump out of your bedroom window onto a well-sprung mattress. Okay? Good. And now try jumping out of the same window with no mattress at all. Will the air cushion your fall? No. Exactly.

    Nevertheless, I massively enjoyed pushing this heavyweight hard. The heaviness of the controls makes you feel like a man, like you could take on the England front row and win. It is a car you drive with your chest pushed out and your tummy sucked in.

    What's more, it doesn't handle well for an off-roader. It handles well full stop. And it shifts too. The 4.8 litre V8, especially with the sport mode engaged, goes like stink and sounds much as I would imagine Brian Blessed might sound if he fell into a vat of boiling oil. It is the sound of glorious, unabated, wanton consumption. It is the sound of pure, unbridled hedonism. Some have said they can't see the point of such a car. Why have an off-roader that handles this well, they say. It's like buying an iron in the hope it can make toast as well. Hmmm. I suspect they might change their minds if they had to make a sudden swerve on the motorway at 70mph.

    I'm afraid, however, that while I respect the engineering of the GTS - it's by far the best of the Cayennes - and I loved driving it, I could never actually buy one because of the way it looks. This really is a car that drowned in Lake Ugly. And to make it even worse, my test car was finished in exactly the same colour as a diseased placenta.

    So I still think the Range Rover is a better bet. It doesn't work half so well on the Nürburgring, it's just as hopeless in London and I bet it wouldn't last half as long on a tank proving ground. But at least it doesn't make you feel sick every time you see it.

    Vital statistics

    Model Porsche Cayenne GTS
    Engine 4806cc, eight cylinders
    Power 405bhp @ 6500rpm
    Torque 369 lb ft @ 3500rpm
    Transmission Six-speed automatic
    Fuel CO2 20.3mpg (combined cycle) 332g/km
    Acceleration 0-62mph: 6.1sec
    Top speed 156mph
    Price Pounds54,350
    Road tax band G (Pounds400 for a year)
    On sale Now
    Verdict Town ain't big enough for both of us

    Re: Cayenne GTS test by Clarkson

    Thank you for posting! typical Clarkson speak just need to take it with a pinch of salt (OK make it a ton of salt)

    Re: Cayenne GTS test by Clarkson

    another one who thinks the Cayenne is ugly.

    well, i think it is an amazing looking vehicle; by far the best looking SUV and one of the better looking vehicles on the road.

    go look at that pic of the Turbo on the aluminium grill thread - the ugly lake my @ss!

    Re: Cayenne GTS test by Clarkson

    you also need air to get PDCC - so try going around a corner with fixed anti roll bars and then try going around a corner with active antii roll bars.

    quite a difference.

    Re: Cayenne GTS test by Clarkson

    CPA4S said:
    another one who thinks the Cayenne is ugly.

    well, i think it is an amazing looking vehicle; by far the best looking SUV and one of the better looking vehicles on the road.

    go look at that pic of the Turbo on the aluminium grill thread - the ugly lake my @ss!

    Absolutely right - well said. I can never understand those that think the Cayenne is ugly. I used to be a big fan of BMWs but with the new 'flaming' styling they are seriously ugly - the whole range.. Clarkson and I actually agree on that one..



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