REVIEW | Cayenne Turbo GT is more hyper car than SUV, and it's scintillating at full tilt

  • It has less power than the hybrid Cayenne, but it's faster than a hypercar.
  • Cayenne Turbo GT holds lap record for SUVs at the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
  • It's easy to drive, yet it has manic performance potential unmatched by rivals.
  • For motoring news, go to Wheels24

Porsche hones its GT cars to perfection, and a perfect example of this is its latest Cayenne Turbo GT. Yes, for the first time, the big daddy Cayenne, albeit in coupe format only, wears a proper GT badge (no GTS here).

It's powered by a 471kW/850Nm twin-turbo V8 petrol engine. That's less power than a Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid, which makes 500kW when its petrol and electric drivetrain sing together. But, where it lacks a few kilowatts, the Turbo GT leaves the Turbo S E-Hybrid dead in the corners.

In fact, the Cayenne Turbo GT is so good in the corners that it has lapped the Green Hell, the north loop of the infamous Nürburgring in Germany, faster than Floyd Mayweather's Bugatti Veyron. A four-seater, two-ton behemoth of metal and muscle that can gladly accommodate golf clubs and child seats is faster than a hypercar. It's faster than several Porsche sports cars, and it eradicates plenty of Ferraris, too.

2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT
2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT

The Cayenne Turbo GT is no ordinary high-performance SUV, and we came to learn this after spending a few days with it on the highveld of Johannesburg. Crisp winter air, cold carbon-ceramic brakes, ultra-sticky trick tyres that come alive once you've warmed them up. It's all extraordinary, even though it can easily be mistaken for your mom's Cayenne S if you take its outrageous gold wheels (sorry, the fancy name for the wheel colour is Neodyme).

Easy to use as a daily driver

I immediately whipped the child seat into the Cayenne Turbo GT upon its arrival as it was going to be my daily driver for the school run for the week. As it's a Cayenne, it's easy to clip the chair in place using ISOFIX mounting points, and thanks to this car's three-chamber air suspension, you can get kids in and out at hip height without breaking your back if you keep the vehicle in its 'Normal' drive mode setting.

Staying with rear accommodation, it's spacious, and there's enough headroom for tall adults despite the sloping roofline. You can only get this vehicle with a two-seater setup for the rear, so a maximum of four occupants might be a challenge if you need space for one more occupant. The trunk is also accommodating at 549 litres, and if you need to move lots of cargo, you can fold the rear seat flat to carry up to 146 litres of goods. It's a convenient device and works well as an appliance, although it's anything but that.

You get a decent view from the driver's comfortable sports seat through the front windscreen and around the A-pillars. Viewing through the rear windscreen is a bit of a letterbox situation thanks to the small glass and sharp rake of the vehicle's rear, but you get used to it quickly. Our test car came with an array of cameras that gave a clear view around it, making reversing and manoeuvring a cinch. Lightweight - in Normal mode - steering also made it an easy-to-operate vehicle that anyone can get comfortable in.

Even the start-up, when cold, doesn't rattle the neighbours' windows or set off other car alarms as long as you keep its sports exhaust flaps closed. I expected the car to be a bit of a beefcake to use daily, and it wasn't. Even though it can accelerate from a standstill to 100km/h in 3.3 seconds and on to a top speed beyond 270km/h, it's as docile as a compact luxury sedan if you treat the loud pedal with respect and drive it in the normal driving mode.

2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT
2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT

Dial it up for the ride of your life

After a few days of pitter-patter around town, exploring the different driving modes within the confines of the suburbs, and learning how the vehicle responded to inputs in Sport and the Sport + setting, I headed out to our favourite testing roads in The Cradle of Humankind. It's lovely to head out to these parts during the week to test dynamics as there's no traffic to worry about. Sure, we still have to take things easy as we're testing on public roads, but it's out here that the Cayenne Turbo GT came alive through the twists and turns.

Normal driving mode is excellent if you want to make haste but don't want too much drama and feedback, and engagement from the vehicle. It quickly shifts through its eight-speed torque converter box to the highest gear so you can trundle along and get to your destination without sweaty armpits. The air suspension evens out here with its most compliant setting, giving you a good blend of comfort and handling. The sports exhaust also remains closed, so you don't get many pops and bangs on upshift and downshift.

READ: Volvo's XC90 T8 Recharge uses zero litres per 100km, and it's a pleasure to pilot

Click the Chrono Pack switch on the steering wheel clockwise, and you will enter Sport mode- the best setting if you want to rely on the car's electronic gizmos as a safety net. Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, together with technologies such as torque vectoring by diff and brake, and a raft of anti-kid systems aim to give you maximum acceleration and stability out of corners. There's a little bit of slip at the rear in this mode, but nothing to make the hair on your neck stand in terms of oversteer situations. I found myself in Sport mode most of the time, even around town, to access the sporty pops and crackles and to have that slightly more responsive throttle and steering setting.

When you want to attack the horizon with maximum pulverisation, you need to click the drive mode wheel into Sport +, which raises the engine idle, ensures the gearbox is always in its lowest gear and gives you access to another mode - 20 seconds of overboost - via a red button on the drive mode switch.

In Sport +, the Cayenne Turbo GT turns in better than a Lamborghini Urus, and it feels more like you're driving a 911 GT2 than an SUV. It has this high-alert, rear-bias driving feel that's more like a supercar than a high-riding bus. It's incredible because of how it's able to change direction and maintain body control.

High-speed sweeps can almost be taken flat out because you know there's immense grip to lean on underneath you. You dive on the power out of low-speed corners, too, and let the tyres dig into the ground as the car goes exactly where you point it. Razor-sharp is the phrase that comes to mind, and still, I can't believe I'm writing about an SUV here.

2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT
2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT

For everything else, there's the 911

In the past, I would have recommended a Cayenne as a daily and a 911 for the weekend, but after experiencing the new Cayenne Turbo GT, my mind has been warped. I'll be delighted to have a 911 sports car for the office and back daily if I could have a Turbo GT for the weekend. 

This SUV is not for posing at carwashes on weekends or jumping in front of for social media posts - it's built for driving and driving fast!

I've been testing some impressive automotive machinery for almost two decades. Still, the Cayenne Turbo GT has to be one of the most excellent cars I've ever driven. I can't think of another vehicle that carries itself so well day-to-day. Yet, at the flick of a switch, it can transform into a rabid werewolf looking for a fight.

It's not cheap to run daily, in case you were wondering, at around 33.3l/100km, but it does come down once you get on the highway. Porsche says it will sip as little as 11.9litres per 100km in a combined cycle, but good luck achieving that when you have Veyron slaying potential at the flex of your right foot.

Pricing starts at R3 350 000, and it comes with everything you'd want on a super sports car - including carbon fibre inside and out, active aerodynamics, connected technology and Bose premium audio, and, if you haven't guessed,,, by now, unmatched performance.

Seriously, bring your X5M, bring your Range Rover SVR. If you like driving and want to experience the thrill of carving new roads in something out of this world, the Cayenne Turbo GT is waiting for you.

The Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT comes with a three-year or 100 000km Maintenance Plan and a two-year or unlimited mileage mechanical warranty.

2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT
2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT

Specs: 2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT

  • Engine: 4.0-litre, hot-V, twin-turbo, V8, petrol
  • Power: 471kW at 6000rpm
  • Torque: 850Nm at 2300rpm
  • Gearbox: 8-speed Tiptronic with paddle-shift
  • Drive: All-wheel drive with active torque split
  • 0-100km/h: 3.3 seconds
  • Top Speed: More than 270km/h
  • Fuel consumption: 33.3l/100km as tested
  • Price: R3 350 000 as standard

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