With 911 & Porsche World’s roving tyre kicker, Johnny Tipler
As a devout fan of Porsche sports-cars I tend to be a bit sniffy about the firm’s SUV models, regarding them with an element of disdain that’s purely (and some would say, unfairly) based on an inverted snobbery against Chelsea tractors – even though I have made several trans-european runs aboard sundry Cayennes and the odd Macan. In their defence, you can’t fail to be impressed by their almost uncanny long-haul competence, covering vast distances with such ease and alacrity that you step out at journey’s end feeling no more fatigued than when you set off, give or take a minor contretemps negotiating the Shuttle’s narrow carriage driveways. Occasionally, then, it does no harm to remind ourselves of their presence in our vibrant marketplace, and especially when offered by a specialist whose sincerity and straightforwardness we hold in high esteem. I viewed these vehicles – Cayenne and 996 GT3 – recently when down in the West Country visiting Williams Crawford, and though conceptually chalk and cheese in terms of purpose, bodyshell volume and performance delivery, they are incredibly competent examples of the models they represent. First up, the Cayenne V8 – one of three examples of the SUV on the forecourt here. This V8 was originally supplied new in May 2014 by PC Tonbridge in Kent, so barely three years old, and still a one-owner car. The selection of options that person ticked would have elevated its price tag to almost £80-grand.
Assuming you’re in the market for such a vehicle, the V8 model is initially striking and impressive from the outside, finished in Jet Black metallic, enhanced by the Sport Design Package, which includes front and rear valances, side skirts, roof spoiler and extended wheel arches that help accommodate the 21-inch 911 Turbo Design five-spoke (the spokes are twinned, so in effect 10-spoke) alloy wheels. Do you need all that ephemera? Not necessarily, but then I’m guilty as charged as having ladled all such frivolities onto my old 996. But it’s this Cayenne’s interior that really blows you away. Peer through the privacy glass to feast on a glorious melange of Carrera red and black leather, from seats that are almost like thrones, to the console surround, and dashboard that’s detailed with red stitching. There’s a leather sports steering wheel with shift paddles, allied to an automatic gear-lever of agricultural proportions, and the aluminium package addenda provide the finishing touches to this altogether decadent cabin space. The 14way electrically adjustable front seats are heated and have built-in memory function, while it is predictably spacious in the rear. Had I still got sprogs at home it is a concept I could well be tempted by – swallowing my antiSUV tendencies. The power-operated tailgate cantilevers up to reveal the cavernous luggage boot, and should you need extra capacity, folding the rear seats down expands the space to more than double that. Other options include PCM3 off-road module – AKA sat-nav, the Ultrasound parking assistance plus reversing camera, topped off with the so-called Sound Package 2 and Hi-end sound system. As for on-road performance, the 4.2-litre twinturbo diesel V8 effortlessly produces 382bhp and a giddy 850Nm of torque, relayed to the blacktop by permanent four-wheel drive and an eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox. Controls for the lazy person? Who cares – it is so very efficient. Furthermore, the Porsche Active Suspension Management system guarantees as smooth a ride as possible over the bumpy stuff. Talking of which, don’t underestimate its off-road capabilities either – though as ever, serious all-terrain activity demands appropriate tyres, as manifest on the Transsyberia version like the one that we played with a few years back in Belgium. This V8 Cayenne’s 100-litre diesel fuel tank will get you a long way, too, with 34-miles to the gallon attainable.
Even though they’re most readily associated with Porsche sports models, a fair number of SUVS pass through Williams Crawford’s hands as well, as Adrian Crawford attests. ‘We do quite well with Cayennes; they’re family cars that tend to get used as a daily car. The quality is beautiful, and that black 4.2 twin-turbo diesel V8 is immensely swift, and the torque of the thing is truly amazing. You’ll even see over 30 miles to the gallon, too, and you won’t be wanting for performance. They feel safe, and what’s not to like if you want a family car?’ When new it would have cost the best part of £80,000, and now, with 25,000-miles on the clock, it still feels and smells like a new car.’ Concerned about the fact it’s a diesel? ‘We’ve had quite a bit of hype on that recently. I can’t see them taking away diesel pumps tomorrow, and the absolute fact is that certain cars drive better on a diesel engine, and some drive better on a petrol, and as far as Cayennes are concerned, you can actually get reasonable economy whilst not giving away anything in performance with the diesel. If you were running a petrol you’d be getting half of that mpg. I personally would feel a bit queasy running a petrol version, which is thirsty, so Cayennes suit diesels really well. And of course, they want us all to be in electric cars now, but I don’t see them putting too many slots in the road for little electric cars yet, so I think we are way off with that, and I think diesels are here to stay for a while, because that particular engine works better in a big vehicle like the Cayenne.’ Towering performance and an indomitable road presence characterise my blast up the A38. I could almost succumb to its pugilistic persona. PW