In my first outing with the Porsche Cayenne Coupe, I claimed that fastback SUVs are the modern equivalent of the bygone luxury coupes of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Porsche’s entry into the segment was the V8-powered 928, a four-seat grand tourer that could handle corners nearly as well as long stretches of the Autobahn. Its final form was the 928 GTS, which was faster and more aggressive (but no less comfortable) than its siblings.
You could say the exact same about the 2022 Cayenne Turbo GT. In its metamorphosis from a humble Cayenne Coupe, the fastback-only Turbo GT sports the most powerful V8 engine Porsche has ever built, making it the automaker’s fastest, quickest-accelerating SUV. In fact, the flagship Cayenne recently broke the Nurburgring lap record for performance SUVs, circling the track in a lightning-fast, officially notarized 7 minutes and 38.9 seconds. Need some context? That’s a quicker lap than the 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 – in a 5,000-pound SUV with comfortable seating for four, up to 51.7 cubic feet of cargo room, and a relatively smooth highway ride.
Guaranteeing that speed is a long list of standard performance equipment, starting with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8. Compared to the engine in the standard Cayenne Turbo, this one receives a stronger rotating assembly to cope with the larger turbochargers’ 23 psi of boost. Bigger fuel injectors take advantage of the intake pressure, and the engine exhales through a Turbo GT–exclusive titanium exhaust system that sounds amazing.
The sum of those efforts is 631 horsepower and 626 pound-feet, respective improvements of 90 and 59 relative to the Turbo, routed through a faster-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission that’s retuned for GT duty. Porsche claims the sprint to 60 miles per hour is over in 3.1 seconds, with a quarter-mile time of 11.6 seconds and a top speed of 186 mph. Those numbers are all superlatives among the automaker’s SUVs.
This flagship Cayenne recently broke the Nurburgring lap record for performance SUVs.
Porsche Active Suspension Management dampers and air springs are standard (though a bit stiffer on the Turbo GT than other Cayennes), as are Dynamic Chassis Control active anti-roll bars. The front wheels receive an additional 0.45 degrees of negative camber, keeping the standard Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires planted under load – the added steering response is appreciated in corners, but admittedly twitchy around town. Holding everything down is a set of ceramic composite brakes, which save weight and prevent fade compared to iron rotors (plus those included yellow brake calipers look pretty slick).
Visual changes are relatively minor. The front bumper’s larger air intakes, a more aggressive lip spoiler, and lightweight 22-inch wheels are standard on the Cayenne Turbo GT. It also gets the sculpted carbon fiber roof and rear diffuser that are otherwise optional on the Cayenne Coupe. However, the roof wing’s carbon fiber side blades are a GT exclusive, as is the 2-inch Gurney flap on the extending deck spoiler. Our tester wears an optional set of gold (Porsche says Neodyme) appliques on the doors that have a retro flair, suiting this vehicle’s neo-928 ethos perfectly.
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Inside, Alcantara is the order of the day, covering the seat centers, door inserts, steering wheel rim, and dashboard accents; Turbo GT embroidery livens up the headrests, and Neodyme stitching and a steering wheel stripe at 12 o’clock tie everything into the exterior. Overall, the Cayenne Turbo GT is subtly styled – perhaps too much so for its $182,150 starting price. One onlooker rightly pointed out that it wouldn’t be difficult to option a Cayenne GTS to look similar to the Turbo GT. Still, there are a few surprise-and-delight features to impress the well-informed, like the retro gold interior accents and heat-rainbow titanium exhaust.
Mountain Highway Hijinks
Anyone who isn’t impressed with the Cayenne Turbo GT’s subtle restyling will certainly change their tune the moment they dip into the engine’s deep well of grunt. The SUV delivers all of its torque between 2,300 and 4,500 rpm, and peak power happens at 6,000 revs, meaning there’s a nearly endless reserve of potential energy under the driver’s right foot. The Tiptronic S gearbox is an exemplar of response, readily downshifting under braking and holding gears until redline in corners. In Sport Plus, the transmission’s sharp gearchanges are reassuring given the Turbo GT’s mission (but perhaps overkill on normal canyon roads).
The excess of Sport Plus extends to the suspension as well. The adaptive dampers and air springs hunker the Cayenne down, maximizing grip but yielding a granitic ride that leaves little to the imagination regarding road imperfections. Set to the more genteel Sport mode, the Cayenne Turbo GT is a fantastic back-road brawler. Not only are the gearshifts smoother, but the adaptive dampers soak up pavement imperfections without losing much composure. Both Sport and Sport Plus uncork the multi-mode exhaust, which allows a fantastic symphony of accelerative burble and crackles on overrun to accompany the driving experience.
Anyone who isn’t impressed with the Cayenne Turbo GT’s subtle restyling will certainly change their tune the moment they dip into the engine’s deep well of grunt.
The minor-but-myriad changes Porsche made to the Turbo GT are plainly evident on a twisty road. The engine feels even more energetic than its already prodigious output would suggest, with eager throttle behavior matching the transmission’s sharp shifts. The steering is alive with feedback, leaving no doubt as to the grip available from the tires (although exceeding their limits feels all but impossible on a public road). Nearly perfect handling balance makes it easy to tighten or relax the driving line using the throttle and brakes, and the multi-talented adaptive dampers and active anti-roll bars keep everything in check marvelously.
And then when it’s time to slow down, dear gracious, be sure your seatbelt is cinched. The ceramic brakes work as stunningly as they look, provided they’re warmed up – ceramic materials tend to be a bit slick when cold, but once at operating temperature, these stoppers clamp hard. The bright yellow calipers are grabby at low speeds, making smooth operation a challenge, but otherwise, it’s nearly impossible to fault Porsche’s flagship braking package (as long as you aren’t saddled with the replacement bill after 100,000 miles).
An unchained monster on a twisty road, the 2022 Cayenne Turbo GT turns into a docile housepet back in the city. Even in the Normal drive mode, its dampers are firm, but the air springs’ slightly higher ride height adds more than enough travel to endure the worst potholes. Set up thus, the flagship Cayenne never feels harsh, taking the edge off most imperfections while still maintaining decent body control. An Individual drive mode allows some customization – yours truly chose soft suspension and gentle throttle mapping, as well as the loud exhaust mode and heavy steering.
The standard, heated eight-way sport seats are very supportive, but those who demand even greater comfort can opt for no-cost 18-way adaptive sport seats with heating and ventilation. However, the more advanced chairs aren’t available with the Turbo GT’s unique Alcantara-and-leather upholstery and must be paired with smooth leather. It’s a matter of taste, but to our eyes, we wouldn’t want to lose out on the Alcantara’s unique Neodyme-colored accents that ever-so-slightly recall some of the 928’s exuberant interior options.
An unchained monster on a twisty road, the 2022 Cayenne Turbo GT turns into a docile housepet back in the city.
Our pro-Pasha sentiments aside, the standard chairs provide plenty of comfort and support, at least for your author’s average build. That’s also true of the individual rear seats, which offer excellent legroom and just enough headroom for 6-foot-tall adults, as well as surprisingly good bolstering and lateral support. Of note, the three-position rear bench found on other Cayenne Coupes will not be available on the Turbo GT, so families of five need not apply. Unchanged is cargo capacity: 19.4 cubic feet with the seats up or 54.7 with them down.
The fast Cayenne will also be the launch vehicle for Porsche’s new infotainment system. PCM 6.0, as it’s known, features a crisp map display and excellent touch response, though the home screen does appear cluttered. Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay are standard, and the infotainment also integrates Apple Music and Podcasts into its operating system, allowing for seamless streaming for those who have a subscription. PCM 6.0 also displays calendar entries and dials into conference calls if the owner chooses to add those functions via the Porsche Connect smartphone app.
One Model, Few Options
By making nearly every Cayenne performance feature standard on the Turbo GT, Porsche has removed lots of the line-item guesswork from the ordering experience. Our tester rang the final bell with a $198,670 asking price – Turbo GT–exclusive Arctic Grey paint was the most significant addition at $3,150, but it looks fantastic in conjunction with the $560 “PORSCHE” applique on the side. Some of the less necessary options include a $1,720 head-up display, $780 soft-close doors, and $690 wireless charging – it overheated our device in about 45 minutes.
Equipped more judiciously (but keeping the fab gray-and-gold bodywork), a Cayenne Turbo GT could easily cross the block for less than $190,000. On one hand, that is an obscene sum for a vehicle whose plebeian variants start at less than half that number, but on the other, adding only $10,000 in options to a modern Porsche is a feat in and of itself. Plus, the meanest Cayenne is quicker, both in a straight line and around a track, than the $222,000 Lamborghini Urus. To our eyes, the Turbo GT is also prettier and less garish inside and out, which might be appealing to those who’d prefer to fly under the radar.
Fuel economy, though still unconfirmed, won’t be great, since the less powerful Cayenne Turbo Coupe only achieves 15 miles per gallon city, 19 highway, and 17 combined. We saw an indicated 10.6 mpg over a day of nearly relentless flogging, so those with green aspirations would be better served by the plug-in Turbo S E-Hybrid and its 18 mpg combined and 15 miles of EV range.
Even so, price and efficiency are the only major downfalls to this incredibly capable, pleasant SUV. Like the 928 GTS, Porsche has turned its family-hauling Cayenne into a comfortable track car for four, with all the speed, power, and panache we’d expect of anything wearing that gold badge on the hood. Production of the Turbo GT won’t be limited, so every lucky customer who can afford one (and is willing to wait until early next year for it) will be very happy with their purchase.
Gallery: 2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT: First Drive
2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT