I drove a...Porsche Cayenne Tiptronic S

The garage said we could have another Mercedes estate while they fixed ours, or a Porsche Cayenne as the courtesy car.

A diesel estate would have been the sensible choice, particularly as we had to move Granny’s sofa but, human nature being what it is, and with fond memories of a cracking good 911 I once owned, we chose the Cayenne.

Alas, when it arrived it resembled a type-2 diabetic — fat, slow and thirsty. The public image of Chelsea tractors is increasingly dreadful and the looks on pedestrians’ faces reflected the unacceptable face of this Porsche.

Its performance sounded promising — 250bhp from the V6 under the 911 style bonnet, with a lovely whoop-whoop Porsche exhaust note. But this fine effort is lost because 250bhp is simply not enough to propel the weighty 4,800lbs with any alacrity. Pushing it from 0–62mph in through the six-speed Tiptronic autobox took a tardy 9.7 seconds, making the fuel gauge wilt visibly. 

Described as the cheapest Porsche by weight, the Cayenne was embarrassingly too high and too wide for a local car park. We felt like an overweight woman struggling into a size 10 dress as we inched past the barrier. I found handling unexpectedly unwieldy.

It felt top heavy approaching bends, though its roadgrip was surprisingly good when I was brave enough to push it towards its limit. With all that weight, I was glad to find firm braking. The ride, however, was less firm, from the massive 4x4 tyres.

As for off road, I didn’t feel it was right to drive this glossy beast into mud and gravel.

Low range and diff lock are electrically controlled (from standstill) by one switch; doubtless excellent for fast ascents of the Brenner pass in driving snow, but for our Tesco run the four-wheel drive was not really necessary.

Ungreen as a 4x4 is, even more power is needed — rather than the overstressed 3.2 litre V6, the 4.8 litre 450bhp twinturbo would be much better matched to such a heavy car. Perhaps more power would mean better economy? Motorway runs were tiresome at 19mpg, whereas big diesels achieve 35mpg.

Suitability for a GP runabout? The Cayenne might suit Tony Soprano’s nephew, but we didn’t like it. And despite its size we were unable to squeeze Granny’s sofa in either.

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