The Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT sums up the ridiculous excess of the fast SUV genre in one vehicle. This is a car that Porsche has desperately tried to turn into something it isn’t, with all sorts of measures combating the inherent compromises of a heavy car with lofty ground clearance.
One of these targets the latter issue specifically - a sizeable 17mm drop in ride height. To go with that, the air suspension is 15 per cent stiffer, and there’s more negative camber at the front. The electric power steering and rear-wheel steering are tweaked, and the Porsche Torque Vectoring system is more aggressive than before.
For the aesthetic upgrades, Porsche treated the GT to a new front bumper with bigger intake holes, a distinctive rear wing, and that silliest of performance SUV upgrades, a carbon fibre roof for an imperceptibly lower centre of gravity.
Oh yes, and there’s a whole heap more power - 629bhp, up from 542bhp in the Turbo. The Turbo S E-Hybrid might have the Cayenne bragging rights with its 671bhp output, but it’s 300kg heavier, so the GT is the faster, hitting 0-62mph in 3.3 seconds. Remember, this is a two-tonne SUV, and it can beat a Cayman GT4 RS off the line.
This is not merely a Cayenne Turbo with the wick turned up slightly, it’s a whole different thing, both on paper and the way it drives. But is there any point? The reason the Turbo works is it hasn’t lost sight of what it is - it’s still comfortable and relatively softly damped. On the face of it, the GT seems at best daft and needless, at worse an excuse to have another go at the Nurburgring SUV lap record.
I so badly wanted to hate it and be proven right, but damn it, the Turbo GT happens to be quite brilliant. Curses.
Over the last few years, we’ve been gaslit into thinking an SUV that does 0-62mph in under four seconds is normal, but even so, the straight-line pace of the Turbo GT never ceased to shock over a several day test drive. The 4.0-litre twin-turbo sounds remarkably angry both inside and out, too, considering there are a couple of sound-sapping petrol particulate filters downstream of the catalytic converters.
You can’t deploy that power whenever you damn well please, though, as is often possible with high-power, all-wheel drive monsters like this. The system has a rear bias that seems to go even further than the lairy Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, with the Turbo GT hanging its rear out even under partial throttle in the dry. Given the chilly time of year we tested the car, it’s probably a good thing the Cayenne came on bog-standard Pirelli P Zeroes instead of the spicier P Zero Corsas normally fitted.
The steering seems to have been taking lessons from the 911 GT3. This is the first time I’ve felt genuine feedback in an SUV, but it verges on being too aggressive - it’s twitchy and almost nervous feeling at times. You get used to it eventually, but some more weight wouldn’t go amiss.
If you’ve managed to keep it together in a corner without any oversteer shenanigans happening, the next noticeable thing is just how flat it stays. Manufacturers have been getting spookily good at defeating body roll in cars like this, but the Turbo GT is a next-level effort. The only thing that gives it away as an SUV from behind the wheel is the higher view out of the windscreen.
Despite this, the suspension is not the overly-stiff horror show I’d been expecting. Yes, it’s firm, but the GT’s air suspension is still more than good enough at smoothing out rougher bits of tarmac, so long as you stick to either Comfort or Sport - Sport+ isn’t practical on our rubbish, bumpy roads. Things do get choppy at lower speeds in all modes, but that mostly seems to be down to the giant 22-inch wheels.
That aside, it’s just as pleasant to poodle around in as a Turbo, with the usual Porsche blend of stout built quality and well-thought-out controls wrapping around you. There are some nice, GT-specific touches too, like an embossed GT logo on the central armrest and - inevitably - quite a lot of Alcantara.
All in, the Cayenne Turbo GT does something I didn’t think possible - break our fast SUV fatigue. With so many blisteringly quick and bizarrely capable options, it’s extremely hard to stand out, and yet Porsche has managed it here. The only thing is, that excellence comes at a price. Want one? It’s £143,910 before options.