Hubert Burda Media

Off-roading with Porsche

The rugged landscape of Siem Reap proves no match for Porsche’s Cayenne and Macan.

It’s almost 40 degrees out and the sun is brutally beating down on the historical province of Siem Reap. While I’m not quite wilting outdoors, I am out and about, tearing up the terrain in a Porsche sports utility vehicle. For 72 hours, I — and a group of “field agents”, including Porsche Carrera Cup driver Yuey Tan and Singapore’s only female race car driver Claire Jedrek — have been drafted by Porsche Asia-Pacific for a spy mission and our objective is to find hidden treasure.

Called the Porsche Adventure Drive, this three-day quest is one of the German automaker’s driving-based customer events for the year. It sees different makes of Cayennes and Macans, such as the E-Hybrid and S models, put through their paces to test their off-road capabilities in the rugged outskirts of Siem Reap.

Looking every bit the part of globetrotting international spies (007 had his Aston, while we have our Porsches), we begin our mission at the Hotel Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort, where our first task is to navigate the urban landscape — a testament to how well-suited the Cayennes and Macans are to city streets.

But it is turning off the highway and into the dusty, narrow lanes of the villages that the real excitement and our series of tasks begins.

On paper, the 3.6-litre Cayenne produces almost 300bhp and a top speed of 230km/h, while the Macan boasts 250bhp and 229km/h with its two-litre engine. That sends the message that high speed getaways with these cars are a sure thing. But what matters more in this situation is that the cars are equipped with adaptable suspension and responsive steering for impressive control.

Through bumpy parched trails and slippery sand dunes, the cars are taken for a beating with the many ruts and crevices along the way, not to mention the billowing red dust that have coated every surface of the vehicles. And that’s not all. After completing our first mission — to start a fire in the field with only the items in our survival kits — and getting our fill (secret agents also have voracious appetites), the cars are subjected to even more punishment on an obstacle course that further demonstrates their off-roading competence.

Porsche Cayenne

Expectedly, both the Cayenne and Macan master the course brilliantly without breaking a sweat. The gradients of the slopes are no match, thanks to its Off-Road mode and Hill Control functions that let the cars hit an angle of up to 60 degrees on the straights and 45 degrees sideways. Porsche’s SUVs are also fitted with the Porsche Traction Management system that continuously monitors driving conditions, enabling the cars to respond to different situations to maintain stability and torque distribution in the front and rear axles. The Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus system, a standard in the Cayenne and optional in the Macan, also serves to enhance driving dynamics and stability by increasing agility and steering response.

After much rumbling in the jungle, agents are then activated to complete the second task, which puts our vocal and grooving skills on the line. Each team has to record a music video of us crooning to Rihanna’s “Shut Up and Drive”. Hopefully we haven’t accidentally exercised our “licence to kill” — by uncontrollable laughter — on whoever is on the receiving end of our amateur production.

Thereafter, we make our way to our last destination. Rolling once more through mounds and potholes, and exciting the friendly village kids who have stopped all activities to wave at our passing convoy, we arrive at Ta Prohm temple, made famous for being in fantasy flick, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. It is here that we complete our third and final task: To find the hidden treasure.

But before we comb through the temple (respectfully, of course), we stash all our belongings in our vehicles, freeing us from any extra weight before we make a mad dash in. Thankfully, whether it’s the Cayenne or Macan, practicality counts toward its design and both boast ample storage compartments and a spacious boot that are great for the gadgets-toting spy.

And the treasure? It turned out to be a model of its brand icon, the Porsche 911. Mission accomplished!