Porsche let loose two of its sportiest SUVs and invited us to tame them over an off-road test drive.
The MMRDA grounds at BKC, Mumbai, were turned into an obstacle course to mimic a range of tricky situations, including gravel traps, log crossings and deep mud terrains - scenarios that you could be stuck in during your next off-road drive. But rest assured, if it’s a Porsche Cayenne or Macan you’re driving, you will drive out safe and easy.
You Cayenne touch this!
Both the cars were lined up along with their sportier variants. There was the standard Porsche Cayenne @300hp, Cayenne Diesel and Cayenne GTS @440hp, and there was the entry-level Macan along with the Turbo version.
We appreciated the standard versions and climbed into the Macan Turbo first (400hp as compared to the 252hp on the standard version, wink!), and then the Cayenne GTS (wink!) and got the ball rolling. The Macan, a compact SUV, is built to offer razor-sharp handling on tarmac and tame things off-road too. It is extremely powerful and wants to get out of your hands like a raging pitbull.
The Cayenne, however, feels a bit more manageable and calmer, but don’t let that fool you. There is adequate power to tackle the tarmac and things outside of it.
No, we are not looking for oil
Access the all-wheel-drive system via the button located in the centre console, and the cars are ready to take on slush, gravel traps, inclines and all other kinds of treacherous terrain. Once in the off-road mode, the car switches all relevant systems to a traction-optimized program, combining the air suspension and Porsche Active Stability Management (PASM), making a mockery of whatever is thrown its way.
Down you go...
One of the most least spoken about and most useful feature while navigating dangerous terrain is Hill Descent, which automatically applies the brakes when you drive down a dangerous decline.
The feature comes as a boon if it is one of your first encounters with a sharp slope - you can fearlessly take your foot off the brake and let the car do the rest for you, feathering the throttle only if required. Once Porsche Hill Control (available in both the Cayenne and Macan) is activated, the system keeps the speed of the car constant on downhill gradients, limiting it between 3kmph to 30kmph, by braking on all four wheels.
The Antilock Braking System (ABS) stays on alert, ready to prevent them from locking.
The course had a section that simulated hill descent and the cars did wonderfully well, which is why we did not disturb the airbags or the gorgeous exterior of the cars.
Overall, the obstacle course simulated sections of brutal acceleration, hard braking, inclines, declines and sections where only two wheels would touch the ground. Both the Cayenne and the Macan proved that they are not only safe and more than capable off-road, but are fun to drive as well. And that’s what’s most important, isn't it?
Photography by Yatish Suvarna