About a dozen years ago, Porsche disappointed many fans by adding an SUV to its exclusive line of sport cars. The Porsche Cayenne is now in its second generation and well accepted by buyers, if not Porsche purists.
Pete: The Cayenne seems especially common in Austin among entertainers, business people and tech entrepreneurs who hit the jackpot. I haven’t noticed any in West Texas pulling trailers full of steers. Not too many cowboys out my way wear designer jeans, either.
Pam: That’s because this car ain’t made for workin’ on the ranch, Pete. It’s a crazy, souped-up family wagon suitable for tearing around on Circuit of the Americas at high speeds, which is pretty much what we did with it.
Pete: Pam! Folks, we drove the Porsche to do our volunteer library work, and then we picked up highway litter and later tutored children in reading. But yes, our Porsche Cayenne’s 420-horsepower V-8, 8-speed transmission and sophisticated chassis might encourage fast driving among folks with less restraint than Pam and me. A question, though. Who put those dang speed bumps in front of the soup kitchen?
Pam: I don’t know, but those hairpin turns were great, weren’t they? I felt a little like Danica Patrick at the helm.
Pete: I see so many guys weaving and speeding through MoPac traffic in their Cayennes, I was predisposed to dislike it just based on that. But I was really taken with the Porsche’s power and handling, and the overall tightness and quick responses. Did you put the console switch in Sport mode?
Pam: I did, but I actually preferred Comfort mode most of the time because at its heart this really isn’t a sports car, even though it acts like one. It’s an SUV, and I want my butt cradled in cushiness if I’m out gathering groceries and hauling friends to the ball park.
Pete: I get your point. Sport mode made for a frantic drive and bumpy ride. After a while, that’s like living with a hyperkinetic puppy. And it doesn’t help gas mileage, either, but that’s probably not a concern for drivers who can afford to pay the $123,000 for a Cayenne like ours. A base model with V-6 engine and manual transmission starts at about $50,000, but I rarely see them on the road.
Pam: It’s a pretty price tag, that’s for sure. But besides surging power, a subdued yet throaty engine sound and a generally fun-to-drive aura, it brings a little quirkiness. Take the strangely shaped side mirrors, for one, and the center console with no less than a bajillion buttons and knobs. And my favorite: the black leather seats with acid green seat belts and accent stitching. It so inspired me that I wore acid green pants for bonding purposes the day we hit the track.
Pete: Ka-ching goes the cash register! The bodacious color stitching and seat belts were a $3,655 option. There are dozens of other silly money options for Porsches. Amazingly, the stylish Cayenne shares most of its hard parts with Volkswagen’s Touareg, which has a somber look and personality. Green seat belts on a Touareg? Nein!
Pam: The whole package was like an attitude adjustment on wheels, and a deceptively speedy one. I thought I was trundling along at about 40 mph once, but when I looked down, I was pushing 60. Yikes!
Pete: The Cayenne can be a ticket-getter for sure, Pam, but it’s also docile enough to be a grocery-getter. Just don’t expect to fit a lot into the cargo area.
Pam: On the plus side, that back seat is mighty accommodating, the driver and passenger get separate air conditioning controls, and the seats are heated. On the down side, the AC fans are unusually loud, and I’m pretty sure the steering wheel is upholstered in mouse fur.
Pete: I like to poke fun at the Cayenne, Pam. It’s delicious excess, but I’ll admit I was really impressed. I really want to buy one, so I’ve decided to start earning more and saving. I’ve been answering those help wanted ads. I can’t decide between pedicab driver or sperm donor.
Pam: I hear you, Pete, but I’m pretty sure you should stick to something a little less glamorous. Like writing.
According to Pete ’n’ Pam
Target audience: High-profile business people, pro athletes, entertainers, heirs to old money, heirs to new money, Porsche nuts, showoffs.
Pricing: From $51,000 to about $140,000
Highs: Pete — The sheer audaciousness of it, marvelous V-8 powertrain, fab handling for a truck. Pam — Fun at the race track, luxe feel, acid green seat belts (sometimes).
Lows: Pete — A king’s ransom to buy and maintain, clunky 21-inch tires, ridiculous option list. Pam — Noisy AC fan, lack of cargo capacity, too many buttons, those acid green seat belts (other times).
Bottom line: Pete — Not very functional as an SUV but whoopee good fun. Pam — Perfect for the Formula One Grocery Store Sprint.