2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Review: A Sublime, Supreme SUV

As far as current performance SUVs go, this is probably as good as it gets.

byChris Tsui| PUBLISHED Oct 6, 2022 11:00 AM
2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Review: A Sublime, Supreme SUV
Michael Tsui.
Share

When it comes to performance cars so good that they transcend their own genre, there are usually a few telltale signs. A body style that only seats four when it typically seats five, for example, is definitely one of them. Green paint on gold wheels is another. A price tag that towers above the rest of its respective model range. Exhaust tips located in the center of the car. The 2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT ticks all of these boxes. 

Simply put, it’s the most extreme and expensive Porsche Cayenne you can currently get. Getting around the Nordschleife in 7:38.9, it holds the production SUV lap record at the Nürburgring. Just because a car is quick on track, though, doesn’t always mean it’s a good road car—some would even argue that those two things are inversely correlated. Thankfully, nobody appears to have told Porsche that because the Cayenne Turbo GT is still pretty fabulous on the street.

Michael Tsui

2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Review Specs

  • Base price (as tested): $190,150 USD ($228,910 CAD)
  • Powertrain: 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 | 8-speed automatic | all-wheel drive
  • Horsepower: 631 @ 6,000 rpm
  • Torque: 626 lb-ft @ 2,300 to 4,500 rpm
  • Curb weight: 5,000 pounds
  • 0-60 mph: 3.1 seconds
  • Top speed: 186 mph
  • Seating capacity: 4
  • Cargo volume: 19.4 cubic feet
  • EPA fuel economy: 14 mpg city | 19 highway | 16 combined
  • Quick take: If you’re currently working on a performance SUV, just give up now because Porsche has won the game.
  • Score: 9/10

Green ‘n’ Gold

As if the very idea of sticking a GT badge onto the back of an SUV wasn’t questionable enough to the P-car purists, the Cayenne Turbo GT is only available as a “Coupe.” The hunched-over aesthetic means this car looks like a massive Porsche hot hatch more than anything else. It’s a look that’s solidified by a more aggressive front fascia than regular Cayennes, bigger intakes, a carbon roof, a very race car rear diffuser with center-mounted dual-exit exhaust tips, and both kinds of rear spoiler: an active one below the rear window that raises above 56 mph and a fixed one above the window with carbon side plates that looks like it could’ve come off the back of a Ford Focus RS.

Believe it or not, I don’t hate how this car looks. Perhaps it’s because Porsche has blessed this particular example with tastefully subtle paint-to-sample green and 22-inch Neodyme gold wheels. Green and gold: an unflinchingly iconic duo whether we’re talking brand new German super sedans or supercharged ‘90s Miatas

Porsche Truck

The inside is typical Porsche Cayenne albeit with a few race car touches added. I’m not the sort of person who likes to call a unibody SUV like this a “truck” but “911 truck” is a good way of describing the vibe of the Cayenne’s cabin. It’s blocky and upright but still retains that classic 911-inspired dashboard and a thin-rimmed, three-spoke steering wheel. Gold seatbelts and stitching in this tester are quite cool-looking while I am indeed a sucker for the soft and fuzzy Alcantara that adorns the steering wheel, the top of the dash, and those Mercedes GLE-style grab handles that realistically act as armrests.

Michael Tsui

Unlike with the Taycan and 911 where the steering wheel is always blocking a part of the instruments, all five of the Cayenne’s gauge cluster dials—which are, in reality, two screens flanking an analog tach—remain visible without having to adjust your head.

In typical Porsche fashion, build quality is impeccable. Switches, buttons, and steering wheel-mounted drive mode dials move and click in a very satisfying way while shift paddles behind the steering wheel are nice and hefty. Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of Porsche’s infotainment software or general UX but, on the bright side, all of the screens are sharp and pleasant to look at while Apple CarPlay is wireless and takes up the entire infotainment screen. 

Sitting behind myself as a dude of average height, the rear seats were more spacious than expected. There’s a whole lot of legroom while headroom isn’t bad for a slopey-roofed SUV. Although, because this is the Special Cayenne, it only seats four, as the middle seat has been replaced with a recessed storage area. That said, Porsche hasn’t gone full GT race car when it comes to amenities, though, because each passenger has their own climate zone and all four seats are heated.

Some feature omissions that came as a surprise—especially considering this car’s price—include wireless charging, cooled seats, and a heated steering wheel. There’s also no sunroof on account of the weight-shedding carbon ceiling. 

Michael Tsui

This Is What Peak (SUV) Performance Looks Like

You probably won’t care too much about the lack of a sunroof after setting off because, as tipped off by its rear-middle seat delete and gold wheels, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT is a balletic tour de force of an SUV. Merely starting it up feels like an event. Turn the ignition switch—located left of the steering wheel as a nod to Le Mans starts—and the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 rumbles to life with the baritone intensity and mysterious metallic rattling of a cobbled-together-after-hours skunkworks racing machine. 

Get it moving and it continues to feel quite special. Porsche added 90 horsepower to the regular Cayenne Turbo's engine for a total of 631 and the automaker says it takes just 3.1 seconds to hit 60 mph—0.1 seconds quicker than the company's own PDK-equipped 911 GT3. And after a single beastly launch, I completely believe it. Launch control, or as Porsche likes to call it, “performance start,” doesn’t smack you in the head off the line as a Taycan does but past about 25 mph, it becomes rollercoaster-like in making you feel like you’re falling frontwards.

Introduce it to bends and the Cayenne Turbo GT earns its GT badge via deliciously nimble, accurate, and direct steering. Notably heavier-feeling than a typical luxury SUV’s rack but not punishingly hefty either, it’s just right. This car sits 17 mm lower than the non-GT Cayenne Turbo and gets air suspension that’s 15 percent stiffer, recalibrated active dampers, retuned torque vectoring, a water-cooled transfer case for its traction management system, and staggered Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires. The result is jaw-dropping on-ramp cornering limits. On the street, I’m convinced that there is no corner the Cayenne Turbo GT cannot absolutely crush.

It’s also got that extremely solid cohesiveness that defines the best of the best performance cars. Like it is with Porsche’s own 911, every piece of the Cayenne feels completely in sync with each other and moves down a twisty road tightly as one piece. Quite neat considering how much it weighs and lends to it feeling like a much smaller, lighter vehicle at speed. Nearly everything—whether that’s the powertrain, steering, chassis, or tires—does its job flawlessly and delivers just the right amount of visceral physicality for the Cayenne Turbo GT to pass as both a proper performance vehicle and a luxury SUV that costs $200,000.

To cap it off, the driving position is near perfect for a car of this stature while the seats—heated, eight-way memory buckets with Alcantara inserts—are nicely sculpted for aggressive-but-palatable sporty SUV duty.

The Cayenne Turbo GT is also one of those cars that feel athletic just cruising on the highway. There’s just the right amount of tactile feedback coming through the steering wheel and through your backside. In normal mode, it’s absolutely still comfortable enough to serve as a daily driver, but it is in no way overly insulated or distant in character. It’s smooth and easy around town and in parking lots, too.

I’m gonna say it: the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT—capable and fun in equal measures—is the best SUV I’ve ever driven by a significant margin.

Michael Tsui

Some Compromises

That said, it isn’t perfect. Massive ceramic composite brakes (with 10-piston calipers up front and four-piston clampers out back) are mighty, of course, and are forgivingly adjustable and smooth on the street. But the pedal travel isn’t super short or sporting. Perhaps Porsche is saving that for the Cayenne Turbo GT RS (I joke). And that eight-speed automatic transmission from ZF with programming that knows better than you do is indeed at its best left in auto mode. Paddle-triggered manual shifts aren’t exactly slow, but they aren’t quite immediate either and—no pun intended—a step down from Porsche’s own PDK system.

Of course, this being The Sport Cayenne, there are also compromises that make it a bit less practical than your garden-variety SUV. This car’s “coupe” body style means the rear window is quite small—and gets even smaller when the retractable spoiler is up. Road noise perhaps isn’t quite as perfectly insulated as one might expect from a Cayenne and, solidifying its status as a comparatively everyday car modified for peak performance, there are inexplicably only four seats. And this may or may not matter to the sort of folks buying a $190,000 Porsche, but fuel economy isn’t exactly frugal, with a frankly comical combined EPA rating of 16 mpg and a little less than 14 mpg observed over my test.

Yet, to be perfectly honest, the Cayenne Turbo GT drives well enough that all of those things seem sort of insignificant. And, for what it’s worth, not once during my time with it did I find the ride too harsh. Unexpected, frankly, for a vehicle so explicitly made for Nürburgring hijinks. 

The Verdict

Beautifully put together, this car feels like a real, red-blooded performance machine and occupies the same space on its segment totem pole as stuff like the BMW M5 CS and Honda’s Civic Type R do theirs. Abnormally involving and capable for its size, it feels special to sit in, sounds and hauls like an absolute animal, and its Alcantara steering wheel tickled my palms with glee every time I used it to nail a corner.

Michael Tsui

Given the choice, I’d probably still take a proper performance sedan or sports car like, for example, a Blackwing Cadillac, or its 911 stablemate over this for a mindless afternoon romp around the Good Roads. But as far as performance SUVs go, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT is about as good as it gets. 

That said, the Turbo GT is likely the sort of car purchased by people who opt for 911 and Cayenne, not either or. A league’s worth more fun than that BMW X6 M Competition, the ultimate Cayenne also qualifies as a car that transcends most rational, financial analyses. You get the Cayenne Turbo GT because it is the fastest Porsche SUV with gold rims and aren’t all too concerned with how much it costs or what else is out there.

And if that sounds like you, congratulations. You’re in for a treat.

Got a tip or question for the author about the Cayenne Turbo GT? You can reach him here: chris.tsui@thedrive.com.