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Test-drive stories by NITISH S. RELE,

Guess which is the best-selling Porsche in the United States? 911? Boxster? Panamera? Three strikes and you are out! The German automaker’s sports cars may be hugely attractive to motoring enthusiasts but it’s the decade-only midsize SUV Cayenne, which sold nearly half of the Porsche vehicles last year.

Our second-generation GTS model was equipped with a 4.8-liter V-8 water-cooled and front-mounted engine blasting off 420 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 380 pounds-feet of torque at 3500 rpm. Getting power to the ground is a splendid 8-speed Tiptronic gearbox. Stomp on the gas pedal and lunge forward from 0 to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds with top speed tapped at 162 mph. Overall handling is more in tune with one of the German carmaker’s convertibles than a five-passenger ride. A fully independent double-wishbone suspension system absorbs unpleasant surfaces and maintains a firm balance. For a more spirited driving, switch on to the sport mode. Porsche Stability Management works in tandem with antilock brakes, to maintain stability in shifty road or weather conditions. Tow capacity is a commendable 7,716 pounds.

The handsome Cayenne sports wide and round bi-xenon headlights with large cooling air inlets, noticeable side skirts, color-keyed wheel arches, black-body trim and a biplane roof spoiler. New for 2013 is the standard analog clock and door lock buttons. The opulent leather seats and Alcantara upholstery, along with aluminum interior accents, are awe-inspiring. Standard amenities include an easy-to-use 7-inch touch screen display, 8-way power front seats, three-spoke tilt/telescopic steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, electric moon roof and power lift gate (offering 62.9 cubic feet of space). And a gentle reminder of the left-mounted ignition switch!

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows with rollover protection, driver knee airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with brake assist, three-point front belts with pretensioners, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are standard. For reassurance, take a look at the 14.2-inch front (6 pistons) and 13-inch rear (4 pistons) vented rotors and breathe a sigh of relief.

Base-priced at $82,050 with options that lead up to $123,265 and earning just 15 mpg in city, the GTS edition of the Cayenne is a smoking jack rabbit of a ride like any Porsche speed demon. For a 4,500-plus vehicle, the SUV displays amazing agility, quickness and response. To sum it up, it’s a lot of car for a lot of money!


Tires: 275/45R20

Wheelbase: 114 inches

Length: 190.8 inches

Fuel capacity: 22.5 gallons

Highway: 21 mpg

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First, the spellbinding figures: 4.0-liter TFSI (turbo fuel stratified injection) twin-turbocharged and front-mounted V-8 engine; 520 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 479 pounds-feet of torque @ 5500 rpm; 8-speed Tiptronic transmission with manual/sport shifts; quattro all-wheel drive; 21-inch wheels; 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds; 155 top speed; base price: $110,000; with options, $125,995, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination, of course.

Enough said. Pretty much. Gone are the previous 5.2-liter V-10, 450 hp and 398 pounds-feet of torque in the Audi flagship’s high-performance variant. It appears the S8 is a special car for the special kind of people – those who can afford to buy a ride that costs as much or more than a house. No wonder this lively luxury sports sedan sells just a couple hundred units yearly.

For 2013, the aluminum-alloy structure-based S8 shows off new twin-blade horizontal slats of its enormous single frame grille, lower bumper side air intakes, larger rocker sill moldings and serious-looking quad oval exhaust tips. The cabin is packed with all the luxury accoutrements expected in a ride of this price. The MMI, which uses a main control knob for navigation (retractable dash screen), telephone and radio systems, is a delight to operate. Offering a firm grip is the one-off yacht-like shifter knob. Rear-seat passengers will appreciate the ample headroom and luxury-liner legroom. Modern high-tech luxury items include Alcantara headliner, four-spoke power tilt/telescopic steering column, 22-way heated/cooled/massage power front seats, rear and side power sun shades, dual-pane sun roof, four-zone auto climate control, open/close power trunk, LED ambient lights, HD radio and a Audi Drive Select so the driver can pick dynamic, comfort, auto or individual modes.

Safety features include dual front and side airbags, front knee airbags, side curtain airbag, Electronic Stabilization Program, front/rear camera and three-point safety belts with pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.

The S8 is a top-of-the-line performance machine to sit back, enjoy and relish. Treat yourself to a delicious brew of performance and style. If you can afford the astronomical price tag, i.e.


Wheelbase: 117.8 inches

Length: 202.2 inches

Suspension: 5-link front; trapezoidal-link rear

Steering: electromechanical power

Fuel capacity: 23.8 gallons

City: 15 mpg

Highway: 26 mpg

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The SRX just keeps getting better with each passing year. For 2013, the four-door, five-passenger crossover has received a redesigned interior and a few exterior tweaks. However, the Cadillac retains its sole power train introduced last year. The direct-injected 3.6-liter V-6 engine doles out 308 horsepower @ 6800 rpm and 265 pounds-feet of torque @ 2400 rpm. The crisp-shifting 6-speed auto gearbox results in a responsive drivetrain.

At our command was the all-wheel-drive system, which distributes torque from front to rear and also side to side in the rear. Working with the AWD is an independent four-wheel suspension system that includes a continuously variable real-time damping system to adjust shock damping rates for any unpleasant surprise on the road.

Sitting on the steel body frame integral structure is a revised multi-piece mesh shield grille and fender vents with LED light pipes, vertical xenon HID adaptive forward headlights and tail lamps, and chrome roof rails. The all-new sumptuous, elegant and refined cabin now is equipped with the hands-on CUE (Cadillac User Experience). An 8-inch touchscreen in the center stack includes capactive controls, haptic feedback, gestures and voice recognition. Throw the 12.3-inch reconfigurable instrument cluster into the mix and you have an infotainment system that should be the envy of the competition. And storage areas abound, especially in the cargo hold with three sizeable under-floor bins.

Superb sapele pommele wood trim on the three-spoke tilt/telescopic steering wheel, center stack, doors and shifter knob boosts the luxury-SUV feel and look. Also standard is a rake and telescopic steering column, adjustable pedals, ultra view sunroof, power lift gate, tri-zone climate control, eight-way power heated/cooled cushiony front seats and heated 60/40 rear seat.

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, stability and traction control, front/rear park assist, lane departure warning, forward collision, side blind zone and rear cross traffic alerts, rearview camera, limited slip differential, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.

Seating five people in comfort, the revamped SRX is tough to beat if you consider performance, generous cargo capacity and price. Competitors in the luxury crossover segment should be wary of this highly competent and evolving ride.


Tires: P235/55R20

Wheelbase: 110.5 inches

Length: 190.3 inches

Weight: 4,442 pounds

Steering: variable-effort power rack and pinion

Tow capacity: 3,500 pounds

Fuel capacity: 21 gallons

City: 16 mpg

Highway: 23 mpg

Base price: $50,730

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