ATLANTA – Prior to heading into the heart of Georgia I had little doubt Porsche engineers could turn anything into a land rocket and now, having experienced the Cayenne Turbo GT, that tiny sliver of remaining doubt has been obliterated.
Yes, Porsche has produced plenty of fast, track worthy Cayennes since the SUV began offending brand purists and conquering company sales charts almost 20 years ago, but the Turbo GT is a monster unlike any we’ve seen before. And why do I say that?
Because it’s missile fast.
With a 0-100 km/h time of 3.3 seconds and a top speed of 300 km/h, the Turbo GT is the fastest Cayenne, and that is saying something given that everything Porsche builds is incredibly fast.
With a 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 under its expansive hood, the first-ever Turbo GT is the most powerful gas-powered Cayenne ever, boasting an extra 90 horsepower and 58 lb-ft. of torque over the Turbo Coupé for an eye-watering output of 631 hp and 626 lb-ft (The most powerful Cayenne currently is the electrified Turbo S e-Hybrid, which produces 670 total horsepower). As incredible as those figures look in print, they’re even more stunning on the road, but I’ll get to that.
Due to begin arriving in Canada near the end of the year, the 2022 Cayenne Turbo GT is priced like a high-performance premium product, but Porsche is filling it with loads of engineering wizardry, not to mention plenty of unique styling details.
Under the hood, the 4.0-litre turbo V8 has been updated for the Turbo GT. It is now the most powerful V8 Porsche builds and it differs from the one used in the Turbo Coupé, thanks to a unique crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, timing chain drive, and torsional vibration dampers. Porsche claims these alterations were made to handle increased loads from 631 hp and for improved driving dynamics. The eight-speed Tiptronic S gearbox has also been updated for faster shifting and the Porsche Traction Management (PTM) system has been retuned.
The Turbo GT’s three-chamber air suspension has been stiffened by 15 percent, while the damping in the Porsche Active Suspension Management System (PASM) and rear-axle Power Steering Plus have both been recalibrated for greater performance. Ride height has also been lowered by 17 mm compared to the Turbo Coupé.
And just to further enhance its ‘King of the Hill’ status in the Cayenne range, Porsche has given the Turbo GT front wheels that are an inch wider than those on the Turbo Coupé, greater negative camber (+0.45 degrees). They are shod in 22-inch Pirelli P Zero Corsa summer tires that were designed specifically for the Turbo GT and feature a wider contact patch. Stopping power has also been beefed up with a standard-issue Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) system.
On the styling front, the Turbo GT is littered with what I call “special car” details to let all who gaze upon it know that it is no ordinary Cayenne.
One of the first things that jumps out is its centre-mounted, double-barrel exhaust outlets. Those large oval-shaped blowers are made from titanium, which Porsche chose because the material is lightweight and heat-resistant.
As mentioned, the 22-inch wheels, which come in a standard satin finish called Neodyme (like gold), really stand out, as do other details such as a contoured carbon roof, black wheel arch extensions, and carbon side plates that are attached to the roof spoiler. The Turbo GT also carries a model-specific rear lip spoiler, which is 25 mm larger than the one on the Turbo, and it increases downforce by up to 40 kilograms (88 pounds) at top speed. Regarding colour options, there are a bunch, including Arctic Grey, a new shade being introduced with the Turbo GT.
There are two significant things to note in the cabin. First, there’s a lot of Alcantara, both in the perforated panels on the standard sport seats and in the accenting, such as Turbo GT badging on the headrests. The second item of note is the next-gen version of the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system, which runs the infotainment touchscreen display. The system boasts a new user interface, software and now features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.
Before I get to my impressions, a general note is in order. The preproduction unit I drove in Atlanta and shown here is a European-spec model, which will differ by degree from the one that will be sold in Canada. My tester was also optioned out with black wheels and a red/black leather interior. I mentioned the Neodyme wheels and Alcantara seating, as those are standard spec for our market.
I drove it for about 45 minutes on windy, two-lane roads north of Atlanta, and what I experienced squares with what I was expecting – this thing is an absolute rocket, in every drive mode but especially “sport” and “sport+”, it begs to be driven hard and has handling characteristics that are on a knife’s edge. Blindingly fast and stuck to the road? A killer combination.
But I dig the Turbo GT’s aesthetic, too. From its 22-inch black wheels and blacked-out trim pieces, to its sleek coupé roofline and titanium exhaust, its styling really transmits that ‘special car’ vibe.
As for comfort and ergonomics, the Turbo GT gets high marks from me. The seats are supportive, I’m glad some of the clutter in the centre console has been paired back, and despite being an iPhone user, it’s good to see the Porsche finally embrace Android Auto.
During the drive, I imagined for a moment how the turbo V8 and titanium exhaust would sound at full song, which made me both excited and a bit sad. But for a taste of its potential, the on-road experience was fun and well worth the trip to the Peach State.
Next time I pilot the Turbo GT, it’ll be on a racetrack, and I’ll be wearing a helmet. Tightly fastened.
The vehicle was provided to the writer by the automaker. Content and vehicle evaluations were not subject to approval.