The BMW Performance Center usually reserves the X M cars for new deliveries. If you’re picking up your own X5 M, you can zoom around in one of theirs before taking yours home. But you won’t find that car in M School. Capable as it is, unleashed in full anger on an open track it still feels like a 2.5 ton SUV. And that’s true of every single high-performance SUV I’ve driven. Every one except this one. The Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT redefines what a fast SUV is.
The 2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Overview
What if we test drove cars with a blindfold on an empty track, like a blind taste test? How fun would it be to guess what you’re driving (I bet I guess the G80 is 5 seconds). Well, I think if I did that for this Turbo GT I’d guess a 911 Turbo S.
Everything is Porsche-level good, which is no small feat in cars like these (as in taller and heavier) And if you want to know why Porsche alone is held in such high regard, try this car’s siblings. The Audi SQ 8 is fast and nice, and the Lamborghini Urus is…a Lamborghini. But the Porsche is faster than both. Faster and better.
This publication isn’t about numbers, but let me share a few. 11.1, as in the time it takes a Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT to get a quarter mile down the road. 2.8 – the seconds that tick tock away to get to 60 mph. And 7:38 – it’s Nordschleife time. For reference, an M4 CSL does it in 7:15.
Captain Slow says that when you make a car designed to go fast on the ‘Ring, it’ll be terrible everywhere else. I think that’s true. So how do we explain this thing?
Performance Score: 10. German Precision
Do not think of the GT as a sledge hammer, like the F-PACE SVR. Most performance-themed SUVs are fast in a straight line and capable everywhere else. The GT is just fast everywhere, doing anything, and it gives you the confidence to hit that apex over and over again. No other tall car compares.
Please explain how electric cars are the future when things like this V-8 exist. A Taycan might provide a relentless surge of thrust, but so does the GT, and the sounds it makes while doing it is something a Taycan will simply never be able to do.
Start the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT, and from the outside you hear a…warble? What size are the cams in this engine? Sounds like an LS is under the hood. But there’s nothing old school about this 4.0-liter engine. 631 horsepower, 626 lb-ft of torque – more than my beloved S63, from less displacement no less. It’s Porsche’s most powerful engine they currently make.
No superlative is good enough to describe this engine. Power everywhere. No lag. Torque off the line that does not stop until the tach reaches that little red mark. It can loaf around in traffic, sure – perhaps a bit too much. Throttle response is a little sluggish in comfort. But in sport mode, wow.
Fitted to the Turbo GT is a titanium exhaust with center exits that sounds wonderful. No buttons on the inside to change the setting either – it’s tied to your right foot. You can cruise around town with this car and no one would be wiser to what it’s truly capable of. To solve this, stomp on the gas for a symphonic roar that reaches 84 decibels. Constant exposure to anything above 85 can cause hearing loss. Coincidence? Come on – this is Porsche.
Stunning as the engine is, it’s the transmission that steals the show. Though nothing remarkable – a ZF eight-speed – it’s incredibly intuitive.
Put the car in SPORT + mode, and the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT feels like a manual transmission is suddenly in the car. It holds onto the proper gear through turns, never looking to upshift because it wants to save a gallon of gas. But it also doesn’t hang onto gears unnecessarily. We’re not perched at 5,000 RPM here, where you take your foot off the throttle and experience the sudden tug of engine braking. The GT knows exactly where to put the engine’s speed to compliment what you’re doing, and what you’re about to do. How the hell does it do that?
Just take it out of SPORT mode and it becomes a regular ol’ Cayenne. If every automatic car had this transmission (and its programing), I’d never own a manual again.
Chassis and Steering
Do you remember the early 2000s, when SUVs were really becoming a thing? On the sun visors, you’d usually find a warning depicting an SUV rolling onto its side. How comforting.
Fast forward to 2016, when I’m on the Thermal Club’s track with an F15 X5 M. “Hmm. This is fast,” I remember thinking. “But also scary.” You cannot push an SUV, even a high-performance one, to the same limits of a car with a lower center of gravity.
Well, forget that now. The Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT handles better than some sedans I’ve been in. That’s not hyperbole. There’s no way a regular G80 can keep up with this on a track.
What works for this car is a bevy of systems. All-wheel drive with all-wheel steering. Porsche’s Dynamic Chassis Control with active roll bars. A multi-link suspension at all four corners. The Turbo GT also gets lower springs and carbon fiber roof compared to a regular Cayenne. Though the GT weighs in at about 5,000 lbs, it feels as light on its feet as an M5.
The ride is a bit solid, even harsh over some bumps. But when you combine a heavy car with sporting intentions there is simply no other way. It’s nothing to be put off by.
“Really?” was my response to seeing the all-wheel steering system on the car’s monroney label, because cars with this system usually have less feel and feedback. Again defying expectations, the Turbo GT might have the best electric steering system I’ve ever driven. It’s appropriately heavy as speed builds, but gives you all the little nuance at lower velocities that hydraulic racks used to be so good at. It’s why the Joker uses a knife instead of a gun.
Oh, and that M5? The Turbo GT can pull more Gs on a skidpad that that super sedan. Wow.
Oh, more numbers! 17.3 inches in front, 16.1 inches in the rear. That’s the size of the GT’s brake discs. They are larger than the wheels on my old 3000GT.
Course, you need them to be that big so they can give you the confidence to bring all this speed and weight to a halt. And to do it over and over again. Calipers with 10 pistons (10!) in front are also huge. Look, Porsche didn’t skimp here. This car is built to take a track pounding.
The Cayenne Turbo GT defies physics. Not as a marketing slogan, but to provide you with a true dual personality car that can keep up with anything. We give SUVs a pass – I did too when I gave them a separate category for my Soul Car of the Year. The capabilities of the GT make me question that choice.
Utility: 5. Duck and go
You know the type – these “coupe” SUVs are always oddly packaged. They take all the worst elements of an SUV (weight, height) and combine them with the worst elements of a two-door car (size, practicality).
Here the Turbo GT is no different. It’s a large car on the outside. Big doors make ingress into the back easy, but you best duck down to get comfortable back there. The sloping roof threatens to make you the passenger version of the Headless Horseman. There’s room in the trunk to live your life, and the front row is basically taken out of a regular Cayenne.
Speaking of, you can’t get a Cayenne Turbo GT in regular SUV form. In that car, Porsche opted to make a Turbo (less power), and a Turbo SE Hybrid (more power, but partially electric). The Turbo GT as you see on this page only comes in the four-door coupe. It’s worth beheading a few of your friends in the back.
Economy: 3. Hungry Hippo
It wouldn’t be fair to get this far and not mention this number: 16 mpg combined.
That’s what you’d expect, but I’ll pose a philosophical question for you. The Porsche customer buying this car does not care about paying for fuel. But it’s a fair bet they care about performance and driving enjoyment. A Taycan Turbo S will get to 60 faster and do so free of igniting dead dinosaurs.
Which one would you rather have?
I see you nodding your head at the screen…
Feature and Comfort: 10. My body is ready
We’ve spent all this time on the GT’s performance, but the rest of the package is all about luxury. If the interior on a BMW is efficient, and a Cadillac’s beautiful, then the Porsche’s is a mix of both with a bit of Apple minimalism sprinkled in.
I always thought that the people who work on Star Trek have a hard job. Make it look like it’s in the future, but not too much, so that the audience can still understands what the hell Captain Kirk is looking at.
Well, that’s the dilemma current auto makers face. Try as they might, one big, giant screen is still a pretty silly solution. But screens do serve a purpose, and you’ll find a mix of both old and new school in the Turbo GT.
Sit inside the super supportive bucket seats and question why everyone doesn’t just give up and make these. Ahead of you is a typical Porsche layout for dials with a big analog tachometer front and center. Dials that surround it are all digital and can show various pieces of information. Perfection. On the super clean steering wheel is a small knob you can turn to engage driving modes. Its red color in the center gives the impression of a bomb about to go off when you press it. Accurate.
Look down by your right thigh along the transmission, and you’ll find many buttons, all cleanly laid out. It might be intimidating at first, but you get used to it quickly. Going on a first date with this car is very easy. Too soon to propose?
Finishes are pretty. Alcantara on the roof, and beautiful soft leather on surfaces you touch. An Audi looks more futuristic, and a Urus has that modern Lambo flair, but if you’re a Porsche guy you’ll feel right at home.
Outside, the GT has huge 22-inch gold wheels, a carbon fiber roof and other bits like mirrors and a rear valance, and a a fun little adjustable rear wing that pops up in typical Porsche fashion. But the black plastic lower body cladding – why? I feel extreme prejudice for this trend. It looks cheap, more so on a car that’s damn near $250,000. Body color please.
Porsche is in a funny spot when it comes to the styling. It has to make everything look like a 911 (not the prettiest sports car ever made). The SQ 8 and Urus also need to fit within the family bloodlines, but those cars look better. Point here is that the Turbo GT might be the most restrained in the looks department among the three. Select yours on what matters to you most.
The Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT is so good, you’ll wonder why you need a 911
A perfect score is a rare thing on here. And yes, the Turbo GT is among the fastest cars to ever grace these digital pages. But it’s not just all about the speed.
This car truly is the perfect daily. Enough room for you and a small family. Able to cruise around town quietly, even serenely. “Insert lux marquee here”, and the Porsche equals it in comfort.
But aim it toward a back road or a track, twist the steering wheel knob to the S + setting, and the car comes alive like I wish an M5 would. Yes, the entry price is starting to cause nose bleeds, but just because a car is expensive doesn’t mean it’ll be good, or at least this good. It’s rewarding to get behind the wheel of a car that meets expectations, and beats them in this case. So few do.
What else can I say? No asterisk needed for this SUV – it’s just a damn good car that’s got plenty of soul.
Thanks to Henry at Kia of Riverdale for providing this Turbo GT! This car, and other high-end exotics, are available at their dealership for sale.
Want your car reviewed?
If you live in the tri-state area and want me to check it out, send me an email!
Support the cause
Commissions may be received for product links on this site. Help out if you can.
I use Nikon camera bodies and lenses, a Westcott Ice Light 2, Manfrotto tripod, B + W filters and an iMac Pro to make the art you see here.
Follow along on Instagram @machineswithsouls