Meet Your Perfect One-Car Garage: The Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT

First Drive / 5 Comments

Porsche may have built the perfect enthusiast's SUV.

For us, the perfect five-car garage would contain a broad range of vehicles. It would include a luxury family-oriented SUV with all-wheel drive, a supercar, a grand tourer for weekend getaways, a track monster for occasional track days, and something for running errands around town that can double as a stylish vehicle for date night. Well, what if we told you that you could get all of that into a single-car garage, and it only costs $188,700? Yes, that's a lot of money, but it's not enough to give you much choice in the supercar department alone. We're not going to pretend the Cayenne Turbo GT will hunt down a Ferrari F8 at the track with an equally skilled driver, but it'll far from embarrass itself trying.

With that in mind, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT might be one of the best bargains on the planet right now, as it is all of the above in one package. Seriously. We're not messing around. It's a strange moment in this writer's career to use the words "Porsche" and "bargain" in the same sentence but stick with us because the hype is real. Of course, the Cayenne Turbo GT is not quite perfect. Still, while other manufacturers are trying to blend two types of vehicles with varying degrees of success, Porsche has taken a crack at making a Cayenne that can be all things many of its customers want.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

The SUV

The Cayenne has been around since 2002. At the end of the 1990s, the brand needed a volume seller and realized that most 911 owners also had a luxury SUV in their garage. The thinking behind the Cayenne's existence is that Porsche owners tend to be brand loyal, so Porsche should sell them a luxury SUV as well as a sports car. The current Cayenne is big, comfortable, fast, can tow around 4,400 pounds, and handles well. For the family, there's a ton of space in the back and legroom enough for six-foot-tall adults. In Turbo GT form, it only comes in Porsche's "coupe" body style, but the sloping roof doesn't impact headroom enough to limit rear passenger headroom in a meaningful way. The ride quality suffers from the suspension being upgraded for performance and the tires being the thickness of 22-inch rubber bands. However, the harsher ride is mitigated by the three-chamber air suspension system. A lower spec Cayenne rides better on rough roads, but the tradeoff isn't heavy.

In its ultra-fast Turbo GT form, the Cayenne still retains its ability to venture off the tarmac and into the dirt with an off-road mode and a high setting for the suspension for added ground clearance. At just under 20 cubic feet, the trunk isn't massive for an SUV but it's a lot bigger than the vast majority of sedans.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

The Supercar

The Cayenne Turbo GT uses Porsche's twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine to make 631 hp with 626 lb-feet of torque and revs out to 6,800 rpm. Mash the throttle from a dead stop in Sport mode, and 60 mph comes around in only 3.1 seconds with launch control. The Tiptronic S eight-speed automatic transmission is tuned for even faster changes in the Turbo GT and relentlessly fires itself through gear changes. It's disconcertingly fast as you're sitting up high in a heavy SUV, but the speed and sensation is pure supercar. Then, come the corners, and the Cayenne Turbo GT starts messing with the laws of physics.

Our first, second, and third run out in the Cayenne Turbo GT was a local 24-mile piece of road that compares to a long twisting British B road. Typically, it's perfectly suited to small sports cars with sets of S bends, jagged changes of direction, a long straightaway, a long decreasing radius corner, and lots of off-camber cornering.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

Even before dropping into Sport mode on our favorite road, it was clear Porsche's GT department has worked a series of miracles in the grip and handling department. The initial turn-in is crisp and direct at seemingly any speed, but it was the way the car rotates that actually caused us to pull over, get out, and make sure Porsche hadn't secretly shortened the wheelbase without telling us. Starting to push the Cayenne Turbo GT, the sheer level of grip available and the heavily rear-biased all-wheel-drive system's ability to catapult it out of tight corners quickly became apparent. Even a passenger was both disconcerted and thrilled by the Cayenne Turbo GT's ability to carve so fast yet comfortably through a canyon. The word they ended up using was "sublime," and it's apt. Sure, the Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires wrapped around wide 22-inch wheels with some extra camber adjustment help a lot, but the magic is in the chassis and suspension tuning. The active anti-roll bars as part of the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) system and the freshly tuned Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) blend together just about perfectly and transparently.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

Adding to the magic is how the Cayenne Turbo GT communicates physically and aurally. The steering is pure Porsche in feel and feedback, and despite the weight of a whopping great twin-turbo V8 over the wheels, you can detect the texture of the road under the rubber as you shift from corner to corner. In Sport and Sport+ modes, the sound of the V8 engine is released, and it has a ton of growling character. The Sport Exhaust system is fitted with centrally-mounted tailpipes developed specially for the Cayenne Turbo GT and is made of titanium. Along with the carbon-fiber roof, the exhaust is one of the two weight-saving areas. By finding a way to leave out the center muffler, Porsche saved 40 pounds of weight.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

The Track Car

Using launch control, the Cayenne Turbo GT squats back as it hammers to 60 mph in what feels more like under 3.1 seconds, and Porsche says it won't let up until it reaches 186 mph. The Cayenne Turbo GT claimed the fastest SUV crown with a 7:38.9-second lap of the Nurburgring and has been reported to run the quarter mile in 11.1 seconds at 124 mph; Porsche's own claim is 11.6 seconds. It's awesomely fast in a straight line for any car, but this is a crossover SUV that weighs precisely 5,000 pounds. That makes it grin-worthy the first time you fire it off the line with launch control, but that grin gets wiped away when the brakes are applied with feeling. The gratuitously sized carbon-ceramic brake rotors in the front measure 17.3 inches, while the rears measure 16.1 inches. Gripping the discs are 10-piston front and four-piston rear calipers, so when they clamp down to stop 5,000 lbs of SUV in a hurry, it's a dramatic yet well-controlled and eyeball-bulging experience.

The track is where Sport+ mode comes into its own and turns the Cayenne Turbo GT into an absolute menace. The shift pattern is super aggressive, and the adaptive rear spoiler goes up and stays there. If there's any doubt that the Cayenne Turbo GT isn't designed for the track, remember that its Porsche Traction Management system includes a water-cooled transfer case for heavy use.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

The Daily Driver

Around town in Normal mode, the Cayenne Turbo GT is surprisingly easy and pleasant to live with. The ride isn't hard for a vehicle that can do what it does in the bends, and the engine and transmission are smooth but responsive when taking it easy. Unlike any supercar, nobody will have trouble getting in and out of the Cayenne Turbo GT. Inside, Porsche's update to the infotainment makes navigation more intuitive and retains Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, it is inside the Cayenne Turbo GT where we found room for improvement. First, the Alcantara seats and steering wheel coverings are unnecessary and mean the seats can't be ventilated, which is a feature that should be standard on a $188,700 luxury SUV - even with a GT badge. An Alcantara-covered steering wheel seems cool at first, but we know they wear quickly and, while great on a track car, it's not ideal for a daily driver.

The second concern is the 14-speaker Bose audio system, which is simply not good enough for a Porsche. The bass is typical of Bose in that it's flabby and boomy, while the high-end is too sharp and gets tiring to listen to over a longer trip. You can make it better using the tone controls, but the muddy digital-to-analog conversion can't be adjusted away. We don't expect Porsche to design a vehicle around the audio, but we do expect better than a sub-par Bose system. The other alternative is to spend almost $6,000 on the 21-speaker Burmester 3D high-end surround sound system.

Porsche
Porsche
Porsche
Porsche

The Ultimate Grand Tourer

While we were blown away by the Cayenne Turbo GT's outright performance, it was as a grand tourer in the traditional sense that we fell in love with the vehicle. Of course, Porsche's GT-badged cars are based around hardcore performance, not heading cross country on a road trip. However, it fits the bill of a classic grand tourer. It'll cruise all day and all night at higher speeds, carve corners with the best of them, and is luxurious and comfortable over long distances. However, unlike a traditional two-door tourer, there's a ton of trunk space for bags and a back seat for extra passengers or gear. We took a couple of long-range trips in the GT, and the moment it all came together was snaking through a mountain pass at a speed that would usually move a passenger around a bit, but the body control and suspension system are so good that it wasn't an issue. In an ideal world, the perfect grand tour for the Cayenne GT would be of race tracks across the state or country. We just wouldn't want the fuel bill.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

Conclusion: 5 Sublime Cars In 1

Any which way you look at it, the Cayenne Turbo GT sets new benchmarks for a performance crossover, and its power is just the tip of the iceberg. Its twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine makes 631 hp on its way to a 6,800 rpm redline, but it's what Porsche does with that horsepower that's absolutely bananas. It's quicker than a Lamborghini Urus on the quarter mile by a fraction, then makes a monkey of it in the corners while delivering all the utility required by an SUV and then some. Yet, it still manages to be a luxury ride and stay that way at higher speeds. It also doesn't wave its arms and shout about what is, like the Urus or its other sibling, the Audi RS Q8, yet it outperforms both and sets a bar Ferrari might not be able clear with its upcoming SUV.

Some people might not want to hear it, but the Cayenne Turbo GT is a car that could replace two or three vehicles in their garage without any significant compromise. It'll embarrass a lot of high-end sports cars and a few supercars, it's a reasonably practical SUV, it's a smooth and comfortable daily driver, and it will make them look like a superhero at the track. If that track is a day away, then the Cayenne Turbo GT is a vehicle that will eat up the miles in comfort. To top it all off, it's life-partner and family-friendly and, well, it's a bargain when presented the right way.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

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