Saturday, April 22

My Date With A Porsche Click for more info

Now that I've returned it here's what I thought.

First, some context. When the Cayenne was first released I, amongst others, hated it. Taking a visual cue from the 911 and sticking it on 21" rims was blasphemy in the eyes of many. And of course the Cayenne was just Porsche cashing in on the whole off-road obsession people with lots of money but no brains tend to have - it was in no way a real 4x4.

And even if it was, buying and driving a 4x4 shows you as being selfish and inconsiderate to almost everyone expect those inside. Nope; any well grounded person were expected to reject the Cayenne (and possibly even 4x4s in general).

However (he says in classic Shakbacktrack fashion) I have to admit that over the last few years it has in fact grown on me. So much that it's actually become my favourite 4x4 - this coming from someone who still generally hates these beasts with a passion. Driving the car for 24 hours served only to compound my fondness for it.

It was my first time with any 4x4 for such an extended period of time. I was surprised at how nimble and agile the car was. Rather than being the unmanageable beast with plenty of blind spots, I think my visibility all round was higher than usual. Luckily I wasn't put in too many difficult situations (and when I had to park in an awkward spot I had my boys to direct me, ahaha). Yes, I was given the right of way a lot, yes I navigated/mounted a kerb with ease and by the end of the trial I was aiming for potholes instead of attempting to avoid them. If all 4x4s are like this then my case against them may be weakened.

It was also my first time with any Porsche for such an extended period of time. Even while not having anything else to compare the Cayenne with, I could tell which bits Porsche had brought to the off-road table. "Basic" luxuries like automatic lights, built in GPS and telephone systems (reading SMSs in your car is a strange experience) were supplanted by more subtle exorbitance like the sound level of the CD player going up and down depending on navigational commands or speed (even reducing when you hit reverse gear so you can concentrate!) and air suspension. Porsche's traction control even let me have a little bit of understeer whenever I had requested it...

The performance of the car deserves its own paragraph. Mother dearest described it as being "like a roller coaster" - taking 6.4 seconds to reach sixty, it is, ironically enough, the fastest car I've had the pleasure of being behind the wheel of. Not that I didn't pay for it; the S model's 4.5 litre engine drinking petrol like a fish (I managed 11 mpg over the 70 or so miles I covered).

Obviously it's also nice to look at. I gave up counting the number of heads I turned, and I'll even risk being ungentlemanly in saying that I got a few smiles from the girls too. It was nothing more than the car of course, the colour black having seemingly been created for the Cayenne. Driving this taught me something about myself - I'm so not above gratuitous attention seeking of the shallow kind.

And now that I've given it back, I feel empty. My plan to love and leave the Porsche has backfired and it'll take me a while to disassociate myself from that Cayenne S. Porsche's 24 hour test drive has clearly done it's magic on me and I totally want one now.