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TESTED: Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT is one badass SUV

Published May 23, 2022

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Johannesburg: As much as we’ve come to respect the Porsche Cayenne because its meaty profits enable Porsche to develop the niche models that we really want to drive, like the GT3, it can be a bit harder to get excited about these SUV products, competent as they are.

Then again, the average Porsche Cayenne doesn’t have 471kW and 850Nm on command. The average high-riding Porsche doesn’t dart from 0-100km/h in a claimed 3.3 seconds, and it certainly doesn’t look anywhere near as arresting as this.

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I pondered these things while taking the keys from Porsche Centre South Africa’s ever-helpful PR man Christo Kruger and doing a quick walk-around.

Our test car came in the new Arctic Grey exterior hue, which seemed to complement the massive Neodyme (gold) coloured 22-inch wheels. You can also tell the Turbo GT apart by its GT-specific front apron with larger cooling intakes, and its carbon roof and side plates.

Oh, and you can only buy it in ‘Coupé’ form, because why wouldn’t you want the sleeker-looking body style? But enough about the looks, let’s hop in and fire up that V8.

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Its four-litre V8 twin-turbo engine produces 67kW and 80Nm more than it does in the regular Turbo model, thanks to extensive upgrades to the blowers, intercooler, induction system and crankshaft. It sounds the business too, thanks to a bespoke titanium sports exhaust system with adjustable flaps. The more dynamic exhaust setting treats you to a louder V8 grumble that hits the acoustic sweet spot without being too overbearing. But be warned, it’s highly addictive.

The Turbo GT might not be the most powerful Cayenne model, with that honour going to the 500kW electrically-assisted Turbo S e-hybrid, but it is the quickest accelerating, with no heavy batteries to lug around.

That said, unless you specifically activate launch control, the Cayenne Turbo GT can be a touch laggy off the mark, even with Sport+ mode dialled in. But, once those ponies are unleashed, all hell breaks loose as the 2.2-tonne beast surges forward like a red-flagged bull. It really is a strange sensation accelerating from 0-100km/h in 3.3 seconds in a large SUV that would give most supercars a run for their money.

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But not just the fastest, the Turbo GT is also the most dynamic Cayenne model, thanks to a bespoke suspension set-up that positions the vehicle 17mm lower to the ground. Porsche re-engineered the vehicle’s active control systems as well as the passive chassis elements to sharpen its cornering ability, and the carmaker says it has increased the rigidity of the three-chamber air suspension system by up to 15%. Model-specific 22-inch wheels with Pirelli P Zero Corsa rubber also do wonders for this cause, as does the rear-axle steering system.

Obviously, there is no point trying to compare it to Porsche’s sports cars, but the Turbo GT does handle extremely neatly for a large SUV weighing more than two tonnes. It’s enjoyable to chuck around too, thanks to a direct and meaty steering sensation that comes complements of Porsche’s Power Steering Plus set-up.

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It’s no surprise that the Cayenne Turbo GT recently posted the fastest Nürburgring Nordschleife time set by an SUV, lapping the 20.83km German circuit in just 7 minutes and 38.9 seconds, and beating the Audi RS Q8 (7:42) and Lamborghini Urus (7:47).

As you’d expect from a Porsche, there are various driving modes to choose from, including Normal, Sport, Sport+ and Individual – the latter allowing you to mix and match different dynamic settings in a way that suits you.

Now I wouldn’t go as far as calling this a Jekyll-and-Hyde-type gizmo, but you do feel a noticeable difference between the modes. In normal mode, it can cruise around unassumingly while delivering a surprisingly comfortable ride (it’s got air suspension, remember), but switch it into Sport+ mode and its sports car aspirations become patently clear in its firmer, louder and more responsive attitude. It also holds the gears for longer, which means you won’t want to be in this mode in everyday traffic, which it’s not designed for, of course.

I enjoyed the normal Sport mode, though, as it seemed to provide the best balance between comfort and enjoyment. Enticing, but not overbearing is how I’d describe it.

You can also operate the eight-speed Tiptronic S transmission manually through a beautifully haptic set of paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

Sitting at the helm, there are no signs of neglect from Porsche’s interior decorators. The thick and grippy multifunction sports steering wheel is superb, as are the eight-way adjustable sports seats with GT-specific perforated Alcantara centre sections.

Your electronic interface is the latest-generation PCM 6.0 system and I appreciated its control logic as the main menu items are always displayed on the right hand side of the screen and navigating within them is a cinch. The graphics are straightforward and modern looking.

As for the practical side of things (which must surely mean something if you’re buying an SUV), the Cayenne Turbo GT offers generous passenger space and a surprisingly capacious (549 litre) boot. It provides a relatively vast loading area, but the vehicle’s sloping tail does make it rather shallow by SUV standards, so taller items might not fit.

Although the rear legroom is decent, I don’t see the point of the 2+2 seating layout that Porsche has installed here. Sure, it’s nice to have individual back seats, surely this could have been achieved while having an emergency middle seat of sorts, perhaps with a folding armrest and storage area?

VERDICT

If you’re seeking one of the fastest and most dynamic SUVs in the world, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT delivers brilliantly with its arresting looks, sharp road manners and the ability to cruise around in comfort when required.

Yes, it is relatively expensive at R3.35 million, but it’s a good 600 grand cheaper than the Lamborghini Urus, although the almost-as-quick Audi RS Q8 is probably also worth a look-in at R2.44m.

Somewhere along the line, performance SUVs went totally bonkers, and few are better at harnessing this madness than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT.

FACTS: Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT

Price: R3 350 000 (May 2022)

Engine: 4.0-litre, V8, turbopetrol

Transmission: 8-speed automated dual-clutch

Drive: All-wheel drive

Power: 471kW @ 6000rpm

Torque: 850Nm @ 2300-4500rpm

0-100km/h: 3.3 seconds (claimed)

Top speed: 300km/h (claimed)

Fuel use: 11.9 litres per 100km (claimed, mixed use)

Boot capacity: 549 litres

Kerb weight: 2220kg

Fuel tank capacity: 90 litres

Warranty: 2-year/unlimited km

Maintenance plan: 3-year/100 000km (5-year optional)

IOL Motoring

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