The 2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Is a Brilliant SUV

·6 min read
Photo credit: Porsche
Photo credit: Porsche

This is what making money in the vehicle-building business looks like. The 2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT will soon be the quickest, most powerful, and most expensive sport utility vehicle ever brought to market by Germany’s greatest performance car maker. The powerful and quick parts are fun. The expensive part is what makes it possible. And that’s why Porsche makes so much money.

The fun part first: Start with the big number.

Well, it’s all big numbers, but this first big number is about the engine. It’s 631, as in horsepower, from the revised EA825 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8, which is based on Audi’s EA824 4.0-liter V-8; responsibility for developing engines has now passed on to Porsche, and this one is produced at that company’s plant in Zuffenhausen, Germany. Yeah, this engine is a beast.

Photo credit: Porsche
Photo credit: Porsche

Compared to the 541-horsepower version used in the pokey old Cayenne Turbo, its turbochargers use compressor wheels a millimeter larger in diameter, 61mm up from 60, incorporating revised blade material and a curvature which assists in raising boost pressure from 21 to 23 pounds per square inch. To fortify the rest of the engine for the additional oomph, the crankshaft’s throws have been tweaked and its balancing has been revised; the connecting rods have been shortened and strengthened; piston architecture has been modified to include larger diameter pins; and the vibration dampener has a higher-density cast-iron swing ring in place of the aluminum one. To keep things firing, fuel injector output has been increased and the new spark plugs have higher platinum content. It’s something more than a mere turning of the boost screws, even if it is short of a full redesign.

As colon-whacking as the increase in horsepower output may be, the big move is in torque production. Porsche claims a thunderballing increase in gross grunt from 567 to 626 pound-feet of peak torque, most of that down low where it counts for moving a two-and-a-half-tonner off the line. Porsche actually claims those 626 pattering pound-feet are produced consistently from 2300 to 4500 rpm, and that the torque tails above and below that meaty middle are generous as well.

Photo credit: Porsche
Photo credit: Porsche


In the land of mysterious convergence, the Cayenne Turbo GT’s 626-pound feet of twist matches that of its VAG barn-mate, the Lamborghini Urus, though Lambo claims the Urus makes another ten horsepower, 641 in total, from its version of the 4.0-liter V-8. Conspiracy or coincidence? You decide.

What’s undeniable is the Cayenne GT Turbo feels like it should be propelling billionaires on sub-orbital joy rides. Using the same ZF-built eight-speed automatic that has spread throughout the automotive industry like an aggressive virus, and putting that grunt out through the standard all-wheel-drive system to great effect, the feel is pure Bezos-Branson-Musk hyperthrust. Clawing into the tarmac using specific Pirelli PZero Corsa tires on gorgeous 22-inch wheels, it’s a sensation of effortless thrust. Up front are 285/35ZR22s; in back, 315/30ZR22s. Porsche claims a 0-60 mph time of 3.1 seconds. That’s a lie; it’s quicker than that, and likely quicker than the Urus as well.

Photo credit: Porsche
Photo credit: Porsche


Porsche also claims a top speed of 186 mph, which is safely four mph behind the Lamborghini with which it shares so much. R&T demands that we soon be given the chance to evaluate these outrageous claims. We’ll need several examples of each vehicle for one to seven years. That should cover us between our conviction, our sentencing, and the expected length of our incarceration.

The seamlessness of the torque production can be mesmerizing, but that gonzo fascination fades with exposure as the comprehensive talents of the machine manifest themselves. Rocketing across the Angeles Crest highway from Pasadena to Palmdale, this massive monster felt two thousand pounds lighter than it is, and beguiling in ways Porsche has never before achieved with an SUV.

Photo credit: porsche
Photo credit: porsche

Look at the Turbo GT head-on and it’s apparent that Porsche has added camber to the front end geometry. The tires are primed to bite into corners, unlike previous Cayennes, providing that sensation of instantaneous response which has been the hallmark of Porsche sports cars from the first 356 to today’s 911, Cayman, and Boxster. This is a big-ass wagon that never feels tippy, is easy to instinctively position on the road, and thrusts out of corners with utter suddenness.

The Turbo GT sits 17 millimeters closer to the pavement than other Cayenne Coupes, and that seems to matter. The “three-chamber” air suspension is 15 percent stiffer, the active suspension tuning has been chunked up for response, the rear steering has been similarly re-aimed, and the whole chassis control system is now ribbed for your pleasure. Based on this one-day exposure, there’s never been a more rewarding performance driving sport ute. It’s so good, so much pure fun, that it almost made up for the fact that the drive was winding up in Palmdale.

And, yes, the brakes are Wagnerian in operation. Baked up of carbon-ceramic material, the fronts are 440 millimeters in diameter in front with eight-piston calipers and 410 millimeters with four-piston units in back. Bentley and Lambo use similar front brakes on their versions of the MQB platform, but the rear pie plates are a Porsche exclusive.

Of course, Porsche equips the Turbo GT with a thick layer of tech to keep the maniacs behind the wheel from extinguishing themselves. But what Porsche does so well is isolating that safety zone from becoming a pillow held down over the face of the driving experience.

Photo credit: Porsche
Photo credit: Porsche

There will be Turbo GT buyers who will take one look at the twin-centered titanium exhaust tips, swoon, and immediately hand over their American Express cards. They’ll drive them home to some swank burbclave and ponder what to buy next. They won’t even have to test drive the thing, because what they want is the best SUV Porsche builds, and that’s this one.

That’s also why this bonkers beast is important to the profitability of both Porsche and Porsche dealers. While Porsche’s sports cars are usually special-ordered by enthusiasts with very specific desires, the SUVs are generally retailed out of dealer inventory; someone comes into the Porsche dealer, looks at the stock of Macans and Cayennes and says, “Gimme that one.” They’re almost impulse buys.

Photo credit: Porsche
Photo credit: Porsche


So the Turbo GT adds a new model, geared not only for those who want Porsche’s best-driving SUV, but specifically those lunatics who just want the most expensive one. Prices on the Turbo GT, which is available only as a sporty Cayenne Coupe with less of that pesky utility, start at $182,150 after a $1350 delivery charge. Throw in a few of Porsche’s legendarily pricey options and most Turbo GT models will sit in dealer inventory wearing price tags above $200,000. And there are going to be people with money— sub-Kardashians, venture-capital psychopaths, YouTube makeup tutorialists— who just want to spend that cash now. Right. Damned. Now. So, here’s the Turbo GT to soak up that gusher of bucks.

The Cayenne Turbo GT is, at least on this short exposure, a brilliant SUV. But it’s an even better business proposition. And it’s still cheaper than spacecraft.

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