2023 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT PO536

2023 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT PO536

Porsche’s new Nürburgring record holder makes an incontrovertible case for SUVs with cornering abilities. Being a GT-lite makes it all the more impressive.


To suggest the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT’s DNA string reads like a bowl of spaghetti would be a bit of an understatement. In VW Group’s arsenal of SUVs of mass destruction, it’s ruder than its identical twin the Audi RSQ8, yet fractionally less frenetic than the Lamborghini Urus. But here’s the important thing … irrespective of its boss-level status, the Cayenne Turbo GT isn’t a real Porsche GT.

Although it shares the insignia reserved for the overachievers atop the 911 and Cayman ranges, this Cayenne has never seen the holy land of Porsche’s Weissach skunkworks, nor was it finessed and blessed by the marque’s crack squad of race-winning aces.

Scrutiny of the Cayenne Turbo GT’s raft of upgrades reads like a re-armament shopping list. The 4,0-litre twin-turbo V8 EA825 (a hotter version of Audi’s EA824) has been developed in-house and assembled in Zuffenhausen, where the cylinder block received a reinforced crankshaft, conrods, pistons and timing chain. On the periphery, the intake and intercooler have been beefed up to match the additional bursts of fuel from the new injectors.

On paper alone, the Turbo GT’s 471 kW at 6 000 r/min and 850 N.m available from 2 300 r/min makes the standard Cayenne Turbo’s 404 kW/770 N.m seem somewhat pedestrian. Among the features not offered as standard on a Cayenne Turbo are the GT’s rear-axle steering, torque vectoring plus, dynamic chassis control to actively control the electromechanical anti-roll bars, and carbon ceramic brake discs, of which the front callipers are powered by ten pistons seizing a flying saucer-sized pair of 440 mm discs.

The GT’s lightened stopping gear, titanium exhaust system, carbon-fibre roof and matching diffuser shave 11 kg off its kerb weight. For some extra cornering purchase, it also sits 17 mm closer to the ground and the track is wider, camber angles are more extreme and rear suspension mounts stiffer.

The GT’s secret weapon, however, is the water-cooling system for the all-wheel drive’s multi-plate clutch, responsible for managing the Über-transformative torque split between front and rear axles. The latter receives 70% of the engine’s output even in default mode and each conspires to abet the Porsche’s frankly physics-bending handling prowess.

Then there are the tyres. Tirerack.com lists the Cayenne Turbo GT’s Pirelli P Zero Corsa rubber as a “streetable track and competition tyre”. A word of warning to any heavy-hoofed hustlers, though: as with any performance rubber, heat and patience are required to generate grip, as evidenced by the P Zero Corsas’ large tread blocks and correspondingly limited number of grooves. These latter two observances push this tyre firmly towards semi-slick territory.

With 850 N.m available from 2 300 r/min and bedevilled by the Cape’s wintry, water-washed roads during our test in June, attaining that operating window for the tyres largely eluded us. The Porsche spun its wheels in nearly any gear selected at the slightest provocation, rendering much of our test period a write-off. And the other half?

In the absence of Autobahns, it takes a moment to figure out where to unleash 471 kW on public roads in a way that is meaningful in delivering feedback and, to a lesser extent, responsible. Similar to a supercar, this is a vehicle that genuinely challenges the driver’s perception of how distance is covered over time. It demands careful planning of acceleration and life-preserving deceleration. The engine delivers a godlike punch at any point across the rev range and the sheer power being unleashed between 4 500 r/min and 7 000 r/min invariably evokes fear of incarceration.

Unlike other turbocharged engines that run out of steam at around two-thirds through their repertoire, the Porsche’s redline is an electromagnet for the engine’s final bout of horizon-chasing force. The feral roar of the twinturbo V8 (now with more than a nod to AMG’s acoustics engineers in the mid-range) is interspersed by the thunderclap spat from the exhausts at each tug of the righthand paddle. Glancing wide-eyed at the digital speedometer readout fighting to keep up with physics is fun, but ultimately folly for any driver believing they’re in complete control, as the excess of torque renders the use of the shift paddles superfluous.

At this point, you will realise there’s another 25% of throttle-pedal travel left.

We can possibly forgive Porsche for denying the Cayenne Turbo GT a dual-clutch transmission. A more durable unit for surviving thousands of kilometres of abuse is yet to be conceived and there’s the tiny trade-off of better low-speed driveability at the cost of lightning-fast cog-swapping. From the first corner, there are no concessions to physics or inexperienced drivers. Even with the drive-mode-selecting dial untouched to secure all nannies are in place, mild prods of the throttle cause the Cayenne’s rear end to come unstuck.

For a comparatively tall vehicle – this is still an SUV, after all – the beefed-up air suspension of Frankensteinian Cayenne Turbo GT exhibits laughably little body roll. Bear in mind, componentry of this nature is usually called upon for the duties of comfort and seldom performance enhancement. Despite its 22-inch tyres, steering is Porsche-like, light, accurate and communicative, lulling – luring – the driver into things they shouldn’t dream of doing in a 2,2-tonne SUV.

As confidence finally gets the better of common sense, you can fling the Turbo GT about like a rear-wheel-drive hot hatch. When the abundant grip, precision and power are correctly coaxed into a corner – clipping point acknowledged, torque-vectoring, rear-steer reporting for duty, steering unwound and power applied as soon as Pirelli’s engineers will allow – the Porsche delivers a magnum opus that has no equal. It is a 911 Turbo S … on stilts.


TEST SUMMARY

Shouting “Yes!” to such excess is the easy part. A car personified by superlatives, a (tested) 3,3-second zero-to-100 km/h sprint time, an 11,6-second quarter-mile and a BMW M5-matching Nürburgring SUV lap record of 7:38.9, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT has anointed the hyper-SUV class in the same way the Saturn V rocket elevated space travel.

In a vehicle so supersonic, every throttle prod becomes an occasion, so time-shiftingly brisk, a flat right foot is appropriate only on a long and empty highway. It is an utterly exhilarating, slightly unnatural, unapologetic and harrowing, but also ultimately life-affirming experience.

However, there is a “but”. This has nothing to do the Cayenne’s blinding abilities, and everything to do with its intended utility, as well as the company it keeps. Unquestionably, there are other, more purpose-built Porsches able to supersede everything the Turbo GT excels at. A racetrack isn’t its natural hunting ground, and despite the comical presence of a button marked “Offroad” north of the gear selector, neither are untarred trails.

Parked among a stable of Porsches, for all its pulverising performance, the Turbo GT is the last contender you’d ever pick for doing hot laps. If you could afford the badge, chances are your other Porsche is a proper GT, which you would take to the track.

Conceptually and on paper, then, surely the Cayenne Turbo GT is somewhat difficult to justify. Conversely, in the grander scheme of things, the substantial profits generated by such freakish inventions are what allows Porsche to continuously churn out worldbeaters such as its GT-branded sportscars in the first place, from which the Cayenne Turbo GT has just borrowed a leaf to staggering effect. And why it’s absolutely necessary, going some way towards making its labyrinthine genealogy a little easier to grasp.

01 Extended spoiler renders rear view from cockpit non-existent. Not that the rear-view-mirror will be much trouble.

02 Touchscreens and configurable displays abound, though pleasingly the centre-mounted rev clock remains analogue.

MATCH-UP

Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT This is as much a flexing of Porsche’s engineering muscle as it is a kick up the backside for its competitors to remind that super-SUVs can carve corners, too. Happy 20th birthday, Cayenne!

price: R3 500 000

cyl/capac: 8/3 996 cm3

power: 471 kW/6 000 r/min

torque: 850 N.m/2 300-4 500 r/min

gears/drive: 8/4

0–100 km/h: 3,3 sec

top speed: 300 km/h

fuel index: 14,28 L/100 km

luggage capacity: 549/1 464 L

serv/maint plan: M3/100 000 km

LamborghiniUrus

The Cayenne GT Turbo’s brother from another mother. Picking the Lambo over the Porsche makes little sense.What does make sense is that it’s the cheapest entry ticket into the Raging Bull Club.

price: R3 995 000

cyl/capac: 8/3 996 cm3

power: 478 kW/6 000 r/min

torque: 850 N.m/2 250-4 100 r/min

gears/drive: 8/4

0–100 km/h: 3,64 sec

top speed: 305 km/h

fuel index: 15,1 L/100 km

luggage capacity: 400/1 024 L

serv/maint plan: M3/100 000 km

Aston Martin DBX 707 The 707 outguns the Porsche for power, though not direction-changing deftness and – owing to its Mercedes-sourced engine – pedigree. R2m over and above the Porsche is an unbridgeable ask.

price: R5 500 000

cyl/capac: 8/3 982 cm3

power: 520 kW/6 500 r/min

torque: 900 N.m/2 750-4 000 r/min

gears/drive: 9/4

0–100 km/h: 3,3 sec

top speed: 310 km/h

fuel index: 14,2 L/100 km

luggage capacity: 638 L

serv/maint plan: S3/unlimited km

USED OPTION [<2yrs]

Bentley Bentayga 6,0 W12 Although not an outright performance SUV, the flagship Bentayga was an impressive first SUV attempt from Bentley with extraordinary straight-line performance.

2023 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT

Built in Germany

SPECIFICATIONS

ENGINE

Cylinders: V8, longitudinal

Fuel supply: electronic direct fuel injection,

turbocharged, intercooled, petrol

Bore/stroke: 86,0/86,0 mm

Cubic capacity: 3 996 cm3

Compression ratio: 9,1 to 1

Valvegear: d-o-h-c, four valves per cylinder

ENGINE OUTPUT

Max power ISO: 471 kW

Power peak/Red line: 6 000/6 800 r/min

Max torque: 850 N.m

Torque peak: 2 300–4 500 r/min

TRANSMISSION

Type: eight-speed automatic

1st gear/2nd gear: 5,520/3,360 to 1

3rd gear/4th gear: 2,172/1,720 to 1

5th gear/6th gear: 1,1316/1,000 to 1

7th gear/8th gear: 1,1316/1,000 to 1

Top gear: 1,1316/1,000 to 1

Reverse gear: 3,712 to 1

Final drive: 2,813 to 1

Drive wheels: all

Driver aids: ESC (electronic stability control), hill start

BRAKES

Front: 440 mm ventilated discs

Rear: 410 mm solid discs

Hydraulics: ABS with EBD and EBA

WHEELS AND TYRES

Tyre make: Pirelli P Zero Corsa

Tyre size(f;r): 285/35 R22;315/30 R22

Spare – type and location: none, mobility kit

STEERING

Type: rack and pinion, electric power assist

Lock to lock: 2,2 turns

Turning circle diameter: 11,6 m

SUSPENSION

Front: independent, double wishbone, coil

springs, anti-roll bar

Rear: independent, double wishbone, coil

springs, anti-roll bar

WARRANTY & SERVICE INTERVALS

2-year/unlimited km warranty

3-year/100 000 km maintenance plan

Services according to onboard computer

Oil filter: R523,84 Air filter: R1 268,66 Left headlamp: R41 307,32

Left rear tyre: R9 775,00 Windscreen: R13 315,13 Brake pads

(front set): R12 961,53 Camchain (incl. tensioner): R7 819,05

Total parts basket: R86 970,53

TEST RESULTS

Test conditions**: Ambient temp/barometric press: 18 °C/1 026 hPa Test car’s odometer: 6 352 km

TOP SPEED

Manufacturer’s figure: 300 km/h

SPEEDO CALIBRATION (true speed)

Odometer error: 0,00% over

60 80 100 120

58 78 98 117

SPEEDO CALIBRATION (true speed)

Odometer error: 0,00% over

60 80 100 120

58 78 98 117

ACCELERATION (sec)

0–60 0–80 0–100 0–120 0–140

1,67 2,43 3,35 4,59 6,03

OVERTAKING ACCELERATION (sec)

40-60

60-80

80-100

100-120

120-140

AT

0,82

0,85

1,01

1,29

1,40

Power/mass: 211 W/kg

Power/litre: 118 kW/litre

Torque/litre: 213 N.m/litre

Cabin noise level at idle: 41 dB

Engine speed (at true 120 km/h in top gear): 1 733 r/min

BRAKING TEST

Best/worst stop: 2,58/2,841

Average of 10 stops/rating: 2,71/excellent

Average stopping distance: 38,12 m

10 stops from 100 km/h measured in seconds.

FUEL CONSUMPTION

Fuel tank: 90 litres

Est. tank range (fuel index): 630 km

Taxable CO2 rating: 271 g/km

FEATURES CHECKLIST

Airbags: front/side/curtain Air-con: dual-zone climate

Audio system: radio/aux-in/USB/Bluetooth/Android Auto/Apple CarPlay

Cruise control: standard, adaptive

Sat-nav: standard

Park assist: standard, incl. camera

Windows: all-electric

Trip computer: standard

Driver seat adjust: electric

Folding rear seat: 60:40 split

Upholstery: leather Isofix anchorages: outer rear

Steering adjust: rake + reach

Steering audio controls: standard

Tyre sensors: standard

Wipers auto-on: standard

Headlamps auto-on: standard Head-up display: optional

Article type:
Review
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