Fast but not too cool

The Porsche Cayenne is a fussy car, but given its specifications, it might just be ideal for the man on the move.

     Print Edition: April 20, 2008

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.” It’s not known who first uttered this old adage, but he surely hadn’t seen the Porsche Cayenne. While we have driven the Porsche Cayenne before, the 2008 iteration (the second version of the car) is sheer luxury on wheels. Sadly, it is not “beautiful” to look at.

Porsche Cayenne
Porsche Cayenne
We also know that it is very expensive as the Cayenne S we drove costs Rs 75 lakh (without any add-on options) and they come fitted with some features such as the six-speed automatic Tiptronic gearbox and the bixenon headlights, which are sold as ‘optionals’ in the European market.

Still, this car has a whole lot of optional kits like the panoramic sun-roof, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) and the massive 20-inch alloys with the thinnest tyres we have ever seen on a car that claims it could go off-road. All of this boosts the price to a massive Rs 93 lakh, which is quite a bit.

So, will the car redeem itself when you drive it? Yes, it does, on the power front. We took it to a highway, engaged “Sport” mode and this twoand-a-half tonne car with a gargantuan 4.8 litre V8 engine took off.

Three-Spoke multi function steering wheel
Steering wheel
Porsche seems to have concentrated a bit on the “Sports” bit of Sports Utility Vehicle. There is no escaping that this car can go fast when you press the accelerator down. It has a 0-100 kmph time of 6.8 seconds, even with the automatic gearbox.

Better still, driving on the highway, perched up in the driver’s seat, you are effortlessly cruising at 120 kmph. The engine is ticking over at an economical 2000 revs, and you are driving alongside a small car that is literally banging its cylinders into oblivion.

All you need to do is to slam the throttle, and if you’re in “Sport” mode, the automatic changes down two cogs and you achieve take-off speed. A few seconds later, you’re going at 200 kmph-plus. This car is fast as it should be since the 4.8-litre V8 engine has a peak power output of 385 horsepower.

Unfortunately, we didn’t think it was a very comfortable drive. The tyres, or maybe the lack of tyres, were responsible. The regular Cayenne S comes with 18-inch wheels, meaning the tyres are slightly thicker—thick enough to absorb the jolts of the road. Here, even with the PASM working overtime and the suspension setting on “Comfort”, we were genuinely surprised at the amount of fuss it made over small patches of bad road.

So, if you buy the car, don’t fit the optional thin tyres unless you stay in a part of this country where the roads are well-cared for and resurfaced often. But think about it, with the panoramic roof, this is a car for someone who likes unconventional styles and enjoys speed.

The V8 engine delivers 385 horsepower
Engine of 385 horsepower
Crucially, the Porsche has serious badge value, which almost completely negates the ugliness of the exterior. So, would we buy one? Probably not. This is a big sports car, which can, if you set it up right, go on the kuccha road. But, we would probably get a Toyota Landcruiser. Much, much less badge, far fewer toys and far more sluggish, but that’s a car you wouldn’t be scared to take anywhere, because it looks normal. And then, there is the minor matter of fuel consumption.

The Porsche will give you, if you drive carefully, around 6-7 km to each litre of petrol, but that is if you buy massively expensive 97 Octane fuel to power it. But well, as we said, it does go fast, really fast if you want it to.

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