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The Cayenne Turbo GT is available only in coupé guise and is priced at R3.35m. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
The Cayenne Turbo GT is available only in coupé guise and is priced at R3.35m. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

Like a salty topping on a sweet croissant, a sports car and an SUV don’t typically mix well. Starting off with a heavy, high-riding barge only to drop the suspension and fit low-profile tyres defeats such a vehicle’s original all-terrain purpose, and they’re not much use on potholed tar roads either.

But as arguably pointless as sports SUVs may be, their popularity far outweighs their relative lack of practicality, judging by how many of these high-velocity heavies populate new-vehicle price lists. While the concept may make little sense, it’s difficult to not be at least partially smitten by Porsche’s new Cayenne Turbo GT.

There’s little about this 2.2-tonne barge that feels bloated or clumsy, and one has to doff one’s cap to Porsche’s engineers for crafting an SUV that feels reasonably athletic. It thrusts and parries through corners with crisp steering and something approaching sports car flair, rather than just being a vehicle that handles “okay-for-an-SUV”.

The Turbo GT is available only in coupé guise and is priced at R3,350,000, a stiff premium over the next-best model: the R2,590,000 Cayenne Turbo coupé.

The GT rides 17mm lower than other Cayennes, on air suspension that is stiffened by 15%. The dampener characteristics of the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) have been adapted, as have the power steering, rear-axle steering and the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) active roll stabilisation system.

The result is that there isn’t much you can do to upset this sporting Cayenne when romping through twisty roads. Even driven by the metaphorical scruff of the neck this all-wheel drive heavyweight stays composed and balanced, neither running into early understeer nor becoming tail happy when you punch the throttle early out of corners.

It stays cool and collected under hard braking too with the fade-resistant ceramic composite brakes that come part of the standard package.

The front wheels are wider than the Cayenne Turbo’s and negative camber has been increased to give the 22-inch Pirelli P Corsa performance tyres — specially developed for the Turbo GT — a larger contact patch.

Athletic flavour inside the cockpit is enhanced by Alcantara trim and sports seats. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
Athletic flavour inside the cockpit is enhanced by Alcantara trim and sports seats. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

A faster-shifting eight-speed Tiptronic S transmission and a modified Porsche Traction Management (PTM) system further push this Porsche into the sporting realms.

It’s a well rounded vehicle, an accomplished handler without resorting to a spine-jarringly hard ride even in the firmest of its suspension settings, making it a fairly comfortable daily driver.

A twin-turbo 4.0l with outputs of 471kW and 850Nm makes this Porsche’s most powerful V8 vehicle, and it has 67kW and 80Nm more hustle than the regular Cayenne Turbo.

All this tweaking has earned the Cayenne Turbo GT the bragging rights of being the fastest SUV around the Nürburgring nordschleife, with its time of 7:38.925 beating the Audi RS Q8’s previous record by four seconds. It’s an expensive four seconds, with the Porsche costing nearly R1m more than the Audi.

Porsche claims a 3.3 second 0-100km/h time for the Turbo GT and our test car came close to that when we connected a V-Box, achieving 3.5 seconds at the Gerotek test track.

That’s impressive for such a heavyweight, though the launch control system requires holding the brake with your left foot for a few seconds waiting for the engine to build boost, which is not ideal for seeking victory at the traffic lights.

Aside from such drag race pursuits the Turbo GT ticks all the driver satisfaction boxes, particularly in its sportiest mode where it develops a sharper throttle response, firmer suspension and a more vocal roar. The titanium sports exhaust system, with its central tailpipes, is unique to the Cayenne Turbo GT and the centre silencer has been removed to save weight.

The price for all this sporting prowess is a voracious fuel thirst, and even with feather-footed driving it’s difficult to get under 16l/100km.

The test car boasted the optional Arctic Grey colour which costs an extra R54,390, while there are several standard visual cues to distinguish the Turbo GT as the top-dog Cayenne. These include a GT-specific front apron, enlarged side cooling air intakes, carbon rear diffuser, contoured carbon roof and black wheel-arch extensions, together with 22-inch GT Design wheels in a gold-bronze Neodyme colour.

This heavyweight corners crisply for its size. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
This heavyweight corners crisply for its size. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

Carbon side plates on the roof spoiler are unique to this model, as is the adaptively extendable rear spoiler lip which is 25mm larger than the Cayenne Turbo’s to increase downforce at top speed by as much as 40kg.

Athletic flavour inside the cockpit is enhanced by additional Alcantara trim, a pair of sports seats instead of a bench at the rear, and a yellow 12 o’clock mark on the sports steering wheel. Eight-way sport seats feature perforated centre panels in Alcantara, contrast accents in Neodyme or Arctic Grey and “Turbo GT” lettering on the headrests.

The sporting accents embellish a family-friendly cabin with exceptional legroom, while the coupé-style sloping roof doesn’t hinder rear head space too much.

This resonates with the Cayenne Turbo GT’s all-round appeal as a practical sports SUV — as long as you keep those low-profile tyres away from craters.

Tech Specs

Engine
Type: Eight-cylinder petrol turbo
Capacity: 4.0l
Power: 471kW
Torque: 850Nm

Transmission
Type: Eight-speed Tiptronic Auto

Drivetrain
Type: All-wheel drive

Performance
Top speed: 300km/h
0-100km/h: 3.3 sec (claimed); 3.5 sec (as tested)
Fuel Consumption: 11.9l/100km (as claimed), 16l/100km (as tested)
Emissions: 271g/km

Standard features
Eight airbags, ABS, stability control, tyre pressure sensor, electric windows, LED adaptive headlights, panoramic sunroof, automatic headlamps, rain sensor wipers, keyless entry, cruise control, navigation, Bluetooth, climate control, adaptive air suspension, cloth and leather upholstery, electrically adjustable front seats

Cost of ownership
Warranty: Two years/unlimited km
Maintenance plan: Three years/100,000km
Price: R3,400,000
Lease*: R72,334 per month
* at 10% interest over 60 months, no deposit

Porsche Cayenne GT Turbo

We like: Performance, handling, space
We dislike: Fuel consumption, finicky launch control system
Verdict: Nürburgring’s SUV king

Motor News star rating
Design * * * *
Performance * * * * *
Economy * *  
Ride * * * *
Handling * * * *
Safety * * * * *
Value For Money * * * *
Overall * * * *

Competition
Audi RS Q8 quattro, 441kW/800Nm — R2,440,500
Range Rover Sport SVR, 423kW/700Nm — R2,736,400
Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe, 450kW/850Nm — R3,058,994
BMW X6 M Competition, 460kW/750Nm — R3,100,120
Maserati Levante Trofeo, 439kW/730Nm — R3,945,000
Lamborghini Urus, 478kW/850Nm — R3,995,000
Bentley Bentayga Speed, 467kW/900Nm — R5,495,000
Aston Martin DBX707, 520kW/900Nm — R6,000,000

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