12 hours in a Porsche Cayenne V8: is an SUV really the best GT?


13.00: Arrive in Northumberland. Weather is biblically wet now. Settle down to some work.

19.00: Flick through news app. Twitter. Dinner, Merlot, bed.

Day two: 07.00. Northumberland. Disable phone alarm, flick through news app. Twitter. Shower, change, get in car.

No traffic, no grey skies and no four-cylinder thrum of the BMW X3 I drove up here in. Today is, finally, about the Cayenne’s V8, rather than the everyday mundanity of early alarms and apps.

This engine is magnificent, really. Yes, it’s seen service in numerous Volkswagen Group products but the Cayenne deals out its 443lb ft of torque like a croupier at the Casino de Monte-Carlo.

Zero to 62mph is dispatched in less than five seconds thanks to Porsche’s launch control system. Set the dial to Sport+, hold the brake firmly with leftie, mash the throttle with rightie. Lift leftie and the Cayenne slings you away in a controlled whirlwind of aggression and noise. Well, assuming you’ve turned on the sports exhaust. Without it, the V8 is restrained.

The Cayenne is not a traditionally good-looking car. Nor is it unconventionally aesthetic. But this facelifted third-generation car is a lot less gawky than that awkward original.

The wraparound rear light bar adds a bit of retro-futuristic Y2K style commonly found on the Instagram pages of the fashionistas of today.

It also illuminates the rear end of the car in a soft, dramatic light as the sun, golden like a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, dapples the car. Yesterday’s rain has firmly disappeared, replaced by this pure, bright, dry sun, so enticing that I almost take my big jacket off.

Villages and tight B-roads feature heavily on our run from Malton, just outside Newcastle, west to Kielder Forest. I thought the Cayenne would feel massive slicing through the villages, but the view out is wide-reaching and the height makes seeing the car’s extremities a doddle.

On one occasion, I forget to turn off the sports exhaust and the daggers I receive from villagers are palpable. Even in Algarve blue with silver wheels, the Cayenne is an ostentatious car, brash even, and you need to be slightly thick-skinned because some people will think you’re a berk.



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