Skiing is a lot of fun but, for those of us in England, it involves heading off to the Alps, either by plane or car. Flying is a pain as it inevitably involves getting up at an unearthly hour, driving to Gatwick, parking the car at great expense, lugging luggage around the busy terminal, queuing to check-in, removing belts and watches then queuing again to get frisked. That’s all followed by a couple of hours on a cramped plane drinking expensive coffee before arriving at another busy airport only to hang around again for the luggage to arrive. Then there’s another hour or two sitting on a too-hot coach to the actual resort. Phew!
Compared to that, driving via Eurotunnel is much more attractive. Last time I did this, it was just my son Jonny and me in a Porsche 996 Carrera, travelling to Morzine in France.
This year, though, as well as Jonny, who’s now touching 13, I also had my 16-year-old daughter Louisa, plus their friend Will, an affable 14-year-old who was keen to escape from his younger siblings. A 911 wouldn’t cut it, so we took a Porsche Cayenne S.
I’d not spent much time with Cayennes so I was keen to see how I’d get on with one. For starters, it absorbed all our luggage and other paraphernalia with ease, and there was plenty of room for me and the three teenagers (plus, at times, Will’s younger brother Ben who was very keen to travel in a Porsche), and there wasn’t once a complaint about comfort or space. The Cayenne has the optional air suspension, which I set to Comfort mode for most of the journey.
Cruising down the autoroutes, we were surrounded by a sea of British cars; it seems that most of Middle England were escaping to the snow during half term. Many of the packed vehicles were 4x4s; Audis, Volvos, BMWs, and Discoveries and Range Rovers, including a striking number of the ‘new shape’ Range Rover. Porsche Cayennes, on the other hand, were very thin on the ground. I think we spotted just two on our 700 mile journey south.
To be honest, we didn’t need four-wheel drive for the majority of the journey, it was just the last mile or so to the chalet, which was up a steep, narrow lane that was rarely ice-free. Setting the Cayenne to low ratio mode allowed me to negotiate this with ease, up and down.
Although I shared the driving with a friend on the way, coming home I drove for the entire 12-hour trip and didn’t once feel tired, so easy and relaxing was the Cayenne.
Complaints? Well, the fuel consumption wasn’t great but it was still much cheaper than flying. The only fault was a blown fuse for the power socket, but that was caused by a faulty sat-nav lead and easily fixed. I’ve come away a true Cayenne convert; it’s the perfect family vehicle. A great long-distance cruiser, a practical load carrier and competent in all conditions.