Aspirations and ambitions have no limit for the road-tripper in me. All I need is a set of four wheels (and a spare in the boot) that cannot be deterred by the ground below. The simple job description of such a vehicle would be to handle the smooth 8-lane highways of Madhya Pradesh or the squishy terrains of Ladakh and the North-East with equal ease.
That is where the Porsche Cayenne impressed me. Ok, I test drove it across a man-made adventure trail in Gurgaon on the outskirts of New Delhi, but the performance was promise enough to address my needs of a roadie. What did I get out of the car?
* It’s a racer: The path to off-road in usually made of tarmac – if you are lucky enough to get a good road, you can step on the accelerator. More than sheer speed, it is the pick-up of a car that helps one clock higher number of miles in a given time. The Cayenne came out tops here. I am not a geek for automobile jargon, but if you must know, the power output has been increased to 570 hp and the torque to 800 Nm in the top model, the Turbo S. The company claims the car can go from 0 – 100 kms / hour in 4.1 seconds, reaching a top speed of 284 kms / hr.
* Handles well – nimble like a figure skater: It took me a bit of fiddling around to optimally adjust my seats and mirrors in the new car and figuring the edges of the car, including the bits not clearly visible from the driver’s seat. But once sorted, it was a figure skater in my hands. Even when weaving through the broken, obstacle infested roads of Gurgaon – full of traffic ranging from cycles to buses with scant regards for rules and safety, the car could have been made for the conditions. The weaving, the maneuvering, the side-stepping, the braking, and the pick-up was all perfect.
* Could have been holding a drink: Of course, all of the above would be unsettling if the car itself bounced around. But I could well have been holding a drink and it would not spill. That’s the signature ‘Porsche Active Suspension Management’ to quote the product specifications to you.
* Push it off-road; can give the creeps but perfectly safe: This is where I challenged the car on the adventure trail. I took the car over rumble strips, and then on uphill and downhill hurdles to test out its hill-hold and hill descend functions. It waded, not floated, in deep pits full of water. The jeepers came when I drove on hurdles at angles as steep as 45 degrees; I felt I would roll over but the car was not having any of it. The sprints were fun; fast acceleration with sudden braking on what looked like a 100 metres track did not cause any of my cameras to fall off the back seat. Next up: Usain Bolt vs the Cayenne (with me in the driver’s seat)!
* The fatigue factor: When I hit the road, I drive thousands of kilometers over days and weeks; orthopedicians have warned me to be careful. Without getting into technicalities, this car has the right design of seats and space to keep fatigue to a minimum. Trust me, this can be more critical than most other features in your car. More so, since my body takes more battering than that. This includes early morning wake-up calls and being on my feet all day with at least 30 kilos of camera gear and day packs – in conditions ranging from extreme heat to near freezing, with no assurance of a bed where I could sleep like a baby at the end of the day.
* The perks: The Cayenne does all of the above, but comes up with an a-la-carte selection of bells and whistles. Choose what you like including seat upholstery, music systems, rear view cameras, navigation systems, auto stop / start and coasting functions, precise controls for cooling and air flows and a Sport Chrono package offering Performance-Start. Each of these deserve a detailed description, let’s do it another day.
Want to join the ride? Find me on the highway.