The Automotive brand, Porsche is well known around the world for their iconic sports cars, - The Carrera, Boxster, Cayman et al. But when they decided to make a Sports Utility Vehicle to cater to growing demands globally, everybody got curious. How can a sports car manufacturer build SUV’s?… It's just not their “Pint of Beer”, pun intended. But, then the Cayenne was born and all those voices have been silenced long since then. The Cayenne was then later followed by the Porsche Macan, which too has proved successful for the Automotive marquee. Both these SUVs defy gravity & has been proving Physics wrong when it comes to their driving dynamics. But its Off-road capabilities were unknown to their customers and the world. So Porsche India conducts off-road programs around the country to showcase the Off-road capabilities of their SUVs. Last week, the Porsche off-road experience program was conducted in Kochi.
Before we enter the off-road course, we were briefed extensively on how we should tackle this course. The briefing was done by Porsche India official trainers. Before starting the drive, we had to make some changes to the settings. There is an off-road button on the centre console which automatically adjusts the vehicle dynamics specific for the terrain we were driving. The air-suspension electronically changes to its maximum height setting. Then put the car in to Drive mode and release brake. The first obstacle is the Pot-Hole section, which was to test the suspension setup and comfort levels of the SUV, the Cayenne felt like a hot knife through butter. Then the second stage was the Axle Articulation stage. The Four-wheel drive setup on the Cayenne helps it maintain traction even when two wheels are airborne. The four wheel drive system cleverly transfers power to the wheel which has maximum grip. It all depends on how we provide the throttle inputs, as we have to be very light footed to maintain the correct momentum to keep going forward. It was total fun for both the driver and co-passengers.
Then the third obstacle was Slip Slope (Positive) stage, in which the car is at a sideways gradient to the road. It was easy for the Cayenne as we have to give the throttle inputs slowly. At the maximum slope we can feel that the Cayenne is rock solid and it can be pushed a little bit more. The very next obstacle is Slip Slope (Negative) in which the right side of the car is going over an incline and this one is a curve. Once you start driving over the initial slope it gets pretty easy. We cant see the road so we have to follow the instruction of the Marshals over a Walkie-talkie.
The fifth obstacle on the course was to test the Hill Descent control of the SUV. The principle is that the vehicle maintains required braking as we go down the incline and I don’t need to use the brake. Very easy, Right? I just had to hold on to the wheel. The Cayenne simply rolls down at a pre set speed limit. That was fun!! Intially it was tough for me to give full control to the system as it is wired and they told me not to use brake pedal going down the hill. But the system proved that it knows best & took the vehicle down without any fuss whatsoever.
The sixth obstacle is the Axle twister, in which one wheel is going in a dip and the other wheel is airborne. This one was also piece of cake for the mighty Cayenne. I had to just give proper steering inputs and follow the Marshals guide lines. The final obstacle was the tough one, The Side Trench, in which we have to drive down a dip at an angle. When we go in, the right rear wheel will be in the air and we come out, the only thing we see is the blue open Sky as the angle was pretty steep. The throttle and steering inputs need to be precise, or you can’t exit properly from the ditch. After completing the course, I was totally blown away by the capabilities of the Cayenne. It can match any sports car on the track and also be truly fun off the tarmac. The versatility is simply great and it’s a good alternative for people who are looking for great performance on-road and also weekend fun by going off-road.
After the Cayenne, it was time for me to tackle the course with the Macan, the smaller of two SUVs. The Macan was compact in size compared to Cayenne and we could feel that the obstacles were easier for the Macan. The feel from both cars are almost similar. Just like in the Cayenne, we just need to press the off-road mode button to ready the Macan. Compared to Cayenne, the Macan feels more light and nimble when going over obstacles especially over Axle articulation and Axle twister. The clever off-road system works just like on Cayenne. Even though the Porsche Macan is not as powerful as the Cayenne it was not felt on the track and the power was always enough as the torque was always there to pull you out of any situation. Overall, it was a fun-filled day as i got to do some off-roading with two pretty expensive cars. When we compare the both, the Cayenne is better as it’s a much more bigger SUV and comes loaded with lots more features and powerful engines, but at a premium price-tag.
Images : Stenny Joseph