Porsche Cayenne S will take you from track to trail with more payload & towing capacity than most mid-size pick-up trucks and full-size SUVs.


W hen I first got the email, I thought my spam filters were failing. It was from Porsche. Would I like to drive a Porsche Cayenne S off-road outside of Whistler, British Columbia? What? Which part of 4WDrive says AWD Porsche? Naturally, I said yes. They were going to let me; A) drive a Porsche, B) drive it off-road and, C) I wouldn’t have to pay for the towing and damages.

I stopped laughing when I found the payload topped out at 850 kg (1872 lbs) and the towing capacity was 3500 kg (7716 lbs) – more than most, if not all mid-size pick-up trucks and full-size SUV’s.

With a bit more research, I discovered a number of familiar terms that the engineers from Stuttgart had built into the Cayenne S that I’ve seen in many of the trucks I’ve tested offroad. Four traction control modes – mud, sand, gravel and rocks, and adaptive air suspension that can increase ground clearance. Many of today’s trucks also offer normal and sport modes as we move to drive by wire technology. The Cayenne also offers Sport Plus, which in addition to improving throttle response and firming the suspension, removes some of the traction control functions.

Then there’s the locking/limited slip differenti­als. In addition to having electronic­ally controlled locking front and rear differenti­als (selected by traction mode not manually), there is a centre differenti­al that can lock so there is no difference in speed between the front and rear wheels. The system automatica­lly diverts power to whatever wheels have traction. And sway bars that decouple when things get tough off-road and recouple when you’re back on smooth road. Damn. If this was a Jeep, it would have a ‘Beyond Trail Rated’ badge.

One feature I would appreciate seeing in other off-road vehicles is the rear-axle steering. I was recalling all those tight trails that I’ve taken my 4-door Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited through using 3-point turns (or 4). The rear axle steering reduces the turning diameter at slow speeds and improves handling at high speeds – think passing and lane changes.

But all this is moot if the systems only work on the engineers drafting table.

We left for the Callaghan Valley just south of Whistler, BC with guides from Canadian Wilderness Adventures. They run ATV, UTV, Jeep, snowmobile and dog-sledding tours (in addition to the Porsche Experience) around Whistler. I still didn’t believe this experience would be anything more than a cruise down a

graded, fine gravel forest service road.

We stopped at the trailhead and the guides walked to each vehicle to show us how to select off-road mode and put the air suspension at its highest setting. The Cayenne S has a large (12”), brilliantl­y sharp, detailed screen that may have the most intuitive navigation­al layout that I’ve ever experience­d. And since we are talking about interior features, yes, every detail from seating adjustment, to materials and design is ergonomic, comfortabl­e, luxurious, and perfectly finished. Sitting in this vehicle raises your self-esteem even before you turn on the ignition.

We turned onto the FSR. This was not a pretty-boy landscaped FSR. It was a potholed, rock-infested trail covered in loose rock with the occasional mix of sand and wood debris. As the brush closed in on both sides, unavoidabl­y

pin-striping the vehicle on both sides, the screen automatica­lly switched to the front view camera and the overhead sensor view, as we began our ascent of the mountain.

We reached the obstacle course with a great deal less effort than expected. The traction control systems are stellar, and the SUV climbed steep grades without wheel spin. More surprising as it was done without an all-terrain tire and at full street inflation. The off-road setting for throttle response made controlled crawling a breeze.

The first obstacle was designed to lift two opposing wheels (one front, one back) off the ground simultaneo­usly and test the ability of the differenti­als to smoothly move the SUV forward. With wheels suspended in the air we crawled forward smoothly with a light touch on the throttle. Even the uninitiate­d drivers crossed with very little drama.

Wet, loose gravel ascents and descents, offcamber trails, and axle deep water crossings – no problem.

It is a competent off-road capable SUV that will blow your hair back on the highway going from 0-100kph in 4.9 seconds (4.6 if you get the Sport Chrono package, faster yet if you pay for the turbo). As we pulled back on the highway to Whistler, we naturally had to floor it and were pushed back into our seats as the engine roared. Swerving back and forth in our lane the SUV stayed level like an old school slot car on a track. Apparently, it can pull one G in a turn, which I was not able to attempt. I would have paid extra to drive this on a test track like Area 27 in Osoyoos, BC.

This is an SUV that bends the laws of physics on-road and becomes an adventurou­s hunter offroad. It’s a shame that few North Americans will ever push a vehicle this expensive to do what it is designed to do off-road. I was fortunate to be one. Drive a Cayenne S off-road www.canadianwi­lderness.com More Porsche info at www.porsche.com/canada/

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 ??  ?? Testing offcamber traction.
Testing offcamber traction.
 ??  ?? Protection up front.
Protection up front.
 ??  ?? Trail cam and overhead view automatica­lly deploy when you're near objects around the SUV.
Trail cam and overhead view automatica­lly deploy when you're near objects around the SUV.
 ??  ?? What you do with OPP Other People's Porsches.
What you do with OPP Other People's Porsches.
 ??  ?? Locking diffs always kept us moving even with two wheels in the air.
Locking diffs always kept us moving even with two wheels in the air.
 ??  ?? Choose your terrain and air suspension lift electronic­ally.
Choose your terrain and air suspension lift electronic­ally.

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