Driving the Porsche Cayenne to Surfing Hotspot San Juan, La Union

A weekend drive to the laid-back surfing town onboard Porsche’s flagship SUV.
IMAGE Pedi Dela Cruz

Porsche’s tagline for the Cayenne, its midsize crossover SUV, is “sports car together,” and that tells you all you need to know. When the Stuttgart-based carmaker unveiled it in 2002, the idea was to translate all the things that made a Porsche sports car great—power, performance, good looks—into a larger vehicle that can fit more than two. 

The Cayenne has enjoyed enormous success over the years, becoming one of Porsche’s bestselling models, alongside the Macan (its slightly smaller SUV), and its most iconic production vehicle, the 911. Porsche’s flagship SUV has undergone two facelifts in the last 17 years, and the company’s official local distributor, PGA Cars, introduced its third generation here in the Philippines just last year.

It’s one thing to marvel and gawk at a static vehicle underneath spotlights inside a shopping mall, quite another to get behind the wheel and experience for yourself what it can actually do. Not many people outside of owners and VIPs get to drive a Porsche in these parts, so I was keenly aware of the rarified air I was breathing when I slowly drove the black test unit out of the Porsche showroom one Saturday morning.

Unless they keep it under lock and key until they get a free weekend, most driver-owners of luxury cars will probably only use their babies on the daily drive to and from work. But everybody knows the fantasy is to be able to take it out for a long and leisurely road trip outside of the city, which is exactly what I did.

The Cayenne is 2.5 inches longer, two inches wider and 45 kilograms lighter than its immediate predecessor. The base model possesses a three-liter V6 turbocharged engine that delivers 340 hp and 450 Nm of torque. Zero to 100kph is achieved in just a hair over six seconds. Translation: other SUVs didn’t stand a chance along the expressways going north.

Still, there were the outliers that insisted on going 10 or 20 beyond the 100 kph speed limit just to overtake us, but I let them be. I was having too much of a good time driving the Cayenne to be suddenly bothered by a road officer asking for my driver’s license and issuing me a ticket for speeding.


There’s a 12.3-inch infotainment touch screen front and center on the dashboard that provides everything from navigation and vehicle info to multimedia details. It’s incredibly intuitive and easy to use; drivers can even customize it to display the information that’s most relevant to them. As for me, I made it clear to my three companions that, as designated driver, I had command of the road trip music, so the Bluetooth connection between the Cayenne and my phone remained intact for the duration of the trip, and the infotainment screen mostly flashed the song and artist currently playing.

Sometimes, the best car features are the ones that are so inconspicuous and unobtrusive that they’re almost imperceptible. In the Cayenne’s case, it was the luxurious leather seats, the quiet interiors, and cargo space in the back that I appreciated very much. The extra space in the back came in handy, in particular, with four people packing enough stuff for an extended weekend getaway.

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After we got off the expressway and eased onto provincial roads, the Cayenne was tested further. Engaging “Sport” in the Porsche Active Suspension Management meant increased power and acceleration, which proved useful when I was overtaking tricycles and other slower vehicles on the road.

Finally, when we got to our destination—the surfing town of San Juan in La Union—we discovered that our AirBnB was located on a steep hill and through a narrow dirt path just off the main highway. That was cause for worry for even tough SUVs, but the Cayenne powered through it all without breaking a sweat (so to speak). You can talk all day about Porsche’s air suspension systems and its other capabilities managing off road conditions, but at the end of the day, nothing beats actual, real-world proof that a vehicle can face difficult terrain and conquer it like a champ.

Its job done, it was time for our steed to rest while we humans got up to the task at hand—enjoying a nice weekend by the beach. Maybe this was what the engineers behind Porsche envisioned when they coined the term “sports car together” for the Cayenne.

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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