First Drive: The 2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT is in a class of its own

High-performance crossovers and SUVs have never impressed me. These vehicles promise sports car-like driving without compromising passenger space or utility. However, most of them are nothing more than an engine with more power and a wheel-and-tire package that includes a few cosmetic enhancements to justify the premium window sticker. They are faster than standard models and can circle an onramp a little quicker, but their synthetic and ungainly driving dynamics don’t lift my enthusiasm pulse one beat.

You can therefore imagine my disbelief when Porsche announced the new 2022 Cayenne GT GT, a model that promises “phenomenal performance and a high level of utility.” Or so I thought.

Porsche followed the reveal with an eye-opening proclamation: The Cayenne Turbo GT had set a new official SUV record of 7:38.9 minutes around Germany’s grueling Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit. The Porsche crossover finished the race in a time that was faster than the Lamborghini Urus SUV and tied it with the Lexus LFA sports cars. Okay, give me the keys

Cayenne Turbo GT is available only in the coupe-style with a sloped roof. It is distinguished visually from its regular brethren by its GT-specific front fascia. This is designed to allow more air into the engine, radiators, intercoolers, and a more aggressive front lip splitter. The roof is contoured in carbon fiber to reduce weight and lower the center of gravity. Black fender arches house the GT Design’s wider track and 22-inch wheels.

First Drive: The 2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT is in a class of its own

The rear decklid wing has side plates made of carbon fiber. To reduce drag and lift, the rear spoiler has an adaptive Gurney flap. Porsche removed Cayenne’s heavy steel center muffler to improve exhaust airflow. It also replaced it with a titanium alloy system, which saved 40 pounds. Just below the rear bumper are two oval exhaust tips with notched blue liners. These resemble the afterburner outlets on a fighter plane.

This cabin, which can accommodate four people, is designed for spirited driving. Eight-way Sports seats have an embossed “Turbo-GT” in the seatbacks. The driver is greeted by a multifunction sports steering column with a bold yellow 12 o’clock center marker. Turbo GT introduces Porsche Communication Management (PCM), the next generation of infotainment for the Cayenne line-up. It is compatible with both Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto.

The Cayenne Turbo GT is tuned to produce a tremendous amount of power. The Turbo GT’s twin-turbocharged, 4.0-liter V-8 engine is identical to the standard Cayenne Turbo model. However, the Turbo GT’s engine has been extensively modified to produce more power.

The Turbo Coupe’s power output is 631 horsepower and 626 ft. lbs of torque, which is 90 hp more than the Turbo Coupe. According to Porsche, the acceleration from zero to 60 mph takes only 3.1 seconds. The Turbo GT’s top speed is 186 mph when you hold the accelerator down. This makes it the fastest and most efficient production Cayenne Porsche has ever made.

First Drive: The 2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT is in a class of its own

Porsche has fitted the Turbo GT with the proper shoes to help it reach the ground. These tires are track-ready Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tires, specifically designed for this mission. To ensure maximum lateral grip and stability, alignment settings are set aggressively for the track.

Technology is an important part of each model variant’s performance equation. The marque has equipped the vehicle with every active system in its extensive arsenal. These include Porsche Active Stability Management, the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Controller (PDCC), an adaptive roll compensation system, and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus. Power steering Plus is also available. All of these components have been calibrated to increase cornering speeds, improve lateral grip, and improve stability.

Turbo GT’s V-8 motor fires up with an eager snarl, before turning down to a calm growl. The crossover is well-mannered and docile if you drive with your right foot. You can’t push the accelerator, and the Porsche is a ferocious Grizzly.

Although the Turbo model’s exhaust note is more angular than the Cayenne, the cabin is insulated so that the soundtrack can be heard outside. Porsche doesn’t pipe artificial exhaust notes through its speakers, unlike other automakers. The combustion melody is 100% real.

First Drive: The 2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT is in a class of its own

The Turbo GT in the “O”, or normal, configuration is extremely unassuming, accommodating, and comfortable despite its race-tuned foundations. The standard three-chamber air suspension absorbs bumps, cracks, and potholes with ease, while the Tiptronic S eight-speed automatic transmission moves smoothly through its gears. My 40-minute walk across the Los Angeles Basin was pleasant and relaxing, despite some traffic.

To change the Turbo GT’s driving mode, spin the dial to “S+” or “Sport”. There are many system adjustments that the vehicle makes in these settings. The most noticeable from the driver’s position is the louder exhaust note, more responsive throttle response, and more aggressive transmission. It’s not surprising that fuel efficiency is lost in these modes.

This configuration of the Cayenne Turbo GT makes it a precision driving machine that takes no prisoners. It appears to have lost its 5,000-pound weight, which was confirmed by a few runs on Southern California’s famous, twisty Angeles Crest Highway.

First Drive: The 2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT is in a class of its own

Crossovers and SUVs with high-performance engines tend to exhibit more understeer when they reach their limit. This leaves the driver unable to move the steering wheel, listening to the tire’s outside noises as the pavement scrubbing away its rubber tread. Turbo GT is different.

The vehicle is perfectly balanced from front to back. Its aggressive alignment of almost 1.5 degrees of negative camber places the tires’ contact points perfectly on the road surface. While the sticky rubber sticks to the aggregate, the sticky rubber feels firm. The vehicle’s performance computers measured cornering forces over 1.2 g laterally both ways during my test drive. These numbers are enough to challenge some of the most powerful sports cars in the world.

The Cayenne’s all-wheel Porsche Traction Management (PTM), fully variable Porsche Traction Management (PTM), delivers power to the corners. The crossover is pulled towards each bend by the four tires with no slippage or loss of traction. Those with sensitive derrieres will notice how the rear-axle steer and torque vectoring–both assisting automatically–seamlessly work their wizardry to keep the vehicle’s trajectory perfectly on the intended line.

Cayenne Turbo GT stands taller than most sports cars. This gives the driver a better view of the road. Cornering is smooth thanks to Porsche 4D Control and 48-volt electromechanical rolling stabilization. The standard fitting of the Turbo GT’s Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes is flawless and virtually unproblematic. It stops just as fast as it goes, which is very unusual for a crossover.

My amazement at the Cayenne TurboGT’s performance, and the joy I felt, motivated me to run several times up and down the mountain. Mid-afternoon I was convinced that the Turbo GT was not only faster and more powerful than any other crossover on sale, but it is also better than most purpose-built sports cars.

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Porsche has set the Cayenne GT GT’s price at just over $180,000. This is approximately $50,000 less than the standard Cayenne Turbo Coupe. The Cayenne Turbo GT is an attractive value proposition. Many of the more expensive options on Turbo Coupe are available on Turbo GT. However, the extra financial investment makes the Cayenne Turbo not just another high-performance crossover but a true sports car option for driving enthusiasts.

While the 2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT seems like a ridiculous overkill to most people, there are still a few discerning drivers who want absolute superiority in terms of engineering, driving dynamics, and performance. Porsche has delivered exceptional performance for a select few. And I am finally impressed.