Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT review: finally – an SUV that feels like a sports car
How has Porsche rewritten the SUV rulebook?
For years we've been getting used to the idea of SUVs that handle well, accelerate like supercars and feel for all the world like jacked-up sportscars. And with the arrival of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT, all of that has been exposed as pretense, illusion and, frankly, a load of bollocks. Because the Turbo GT isn't just another Cayenne. It's an SUV that's been partially engineered by the geniuses at Porsche's GT car division, and it's very, very good. Good enough that we'd buy one over many sports cars – even if driving thrills were top of our most-wanted list.
Find out why by watching the giggling idiot in the video below or read on for more thoughts.
What is it?
It's a 2.3-tonne Cayenne Coupe with a lot of bits reworked. It's powered by what at first glance appears to be the stalwart VWG 4.0-litre V8 – but here it's been thoroughly overhauled in the pursuit of aggression, raciness and response. To this end it gets a revised crankshaft, a tweaked induction system and intercooler as well as extra boost, taking peak power to 640hp and torque to 850Nm – both substantially up on the Cayenne Turbo. The Turbo GT will blare its way to 62mph in 3.3 seconds, which is 0.6 seconds faster than the Turbo, and it'll smash to 99mph in 7.7 seconds. It also holds a Nurburgring lap record.
We get why Porsche used the Cayenne Coupe as the base for the Turbo GT – but it'd be nice to have a non-coupe version
The chassis has received just as much love as the engine. The adaptive air suspension is 15% stiffer than a regular Cayenne Turbo, the ride height is 17mm lower and there's a bunch of new aluminium suspension components.
Big brakes, light (but huge) wheels, and sticky tyres…
The tyres run more negative camber for keener turn-in, helped by the four-wheel steering and active anti-roll bars. It has Turbo-GT-specific 22" wheels with 440mm carbon ceramic brakes up front, gripped by huge 10 piston calipers. P Zero Corsa tyres hint at the fact this thing will lap a circuit faster than a new BMW M3. Despite weighing 2.3 tonnes.
How does it drive?
It's loose, it's lairy and it's very un-SUV. When we picked the Turbo GT up from Porsche GB we were warned to take it easy for a bit because it was on brand-new tyres. We're not sure that was the sole reason to take it easy, because 20 miles later we found that even on warm tyres, the Turbo GT would kick its back axle sideways at 50mph on a motorway slip road. This is one in-your-face SUV, with a whole heap of rear-drive bias to its four-wheel-drive system.
Yum. These are pretty damn noisy in Sport + mode
Even in the more sedate driving modes you're always aware that the Turbo GT wants to be driven from the rear wheels. In Sport Plus mode you'll be winding on opposite lock away from every roundabout. It feels like a hot rod. You'll hammer down bumpy B-roads and marvel at the insanely good body control – you'll be gripping the Alcantara-clad steering wheel and wondering if you're actually in an SUV. The way the Turbo GT rotates into and out of corners makes it feel for all the world like a massively overgrown V8-powered Cayman. It's addictive. And it drives like no other SUV.
There are very few compromises because of its mass. It turns, stops and gives confidence like a bona fide sports car – you'll find yourself leaning on the front tyres and hammering around corners at faintly ridiculous speeds – all to a thunderous and deeply anti-social V8 barrage from the blueing titanium exhausts. And best of all, cornering fast in the Turbo GT feels natural, uncontrived and – weirdly – completely in line with the laws of physics. It doesn't feel brutish in the way it handles, instead it flows and jinks with the Tarmac.
The cabin feels as if a GT3 and a Cayenne had a baby
The only fly in the ointment is a slightly firmer-than-usual ride at town speeds, but it's nothing you won't forgive when you give it the Chuck Berrys. Oh, and driven enthusiastically you'll struggle to top 15mpg, emptying the 90-litre fuel tank in under 300 miles. But you probably won't care if you're spending £144,000+ on the car itself.
What about the rest of it?
None of the Cayenne's practicalities have been harmed in the transition from SUV to sports car. You still get a vast 549-litre boot (1,464 litres with the rear seats folded down), and the interior is a gorgeous piece of design, lined with Alcantara as far as the eye can see.
Regardless of how you set the Turbo GT up, you can hit a button on the centre console to soften the suspension
A 12.3-inch touchscreen provides all your infotainment needs, with wireless Apple CarPlay but wired Android Auto. The rear seats are big enough for adults, though exceptionally tall ones will brush the sloping coupe roofline with their heads.
Should I buy one?
Oh sweet Jesus yes. With the Turbo GT Porsche has utterly redefined how an SUV can drive – as impressive as rival SUVs are, we've never found ourselves dreaming about their front-end feel or hankered for pointless early morning drives in them. The Turbo GT didn't just impress us, it etched itself into our mental lists of excellent drivers cars. It's a thug, it's lairy and it's deeply uncool on Twitter. All good reasons to want one more than a 911… and you can scare the whole family on the way to the shops.