6th Cayenne Artic Route Adventure: from left – Ignazio Piazza, Mara Vecchiet, Tiziano Godeas, Gualtiero Frassati, Roberto Occhialini and Stefano Vichi, Porsche Club Marche, Pesaro Italy, Hans Rodinger, Proprietor, Smithers Guest House, Rick Bye and Tony Morris, Porsche Canada, and Rob Rothwell, auto123.com, in Smithers, BC.. Click image to enlarge
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Article and photos by Grant Yoxon
6th Cayenne Artic Route Adventure
Vancouver, B.C. – Auto writers drive many vehicles. Most of us drive 50 or more vehicles per year. But our time with each vehicle is fleeting, usually limited to a few hours behind the wheel when attending a new vehicle launch or just a week when conducting a test drive. Experience helps us sort out the good, the bad and the ugly.
Rarely do we get to experience a vehicle the way that most consumers do, over time and over great distances. But that changed recently when I had the opportunity to drive a 2011 Porsche Cayenne V6 from Anchorage, Alaska to Vancouver, B.C. Our journey took six days and with a detour to the picturesque hamlet of Valdez, Alaska, covered approximately 4,000 kilometres.
The occasion for this marathon journey was the Sixth Artic Route Adventure (the spelling of “Artic” is intentional), the sixth expedition by a group of Italian Cayenne enthusiasts who previously had driven to far north destinations in Iceland, Norway and Russia. From Pesaro, Italy (located on the Adriatic Sea, typical April temperatures ranging from 20 – 25 Celsius); the members of Porsche Club Marche flew to Vancouver where they set out on March 30, arriving in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska on April 4. From there they returned to Anchorage, Alaska, where I joined up on April 9 for the southward trip back.
The Italian adventurers received assistance from Porsche Canada who supplied the vehicles, as the cost of shipping their personal vehicles from Italy was prohibitive, and en route support from two Porsche Canada representatives, Rick Bye and Tony Morris. While not all the Porsche club members made the complete round trip – three flew into Whitehorse and then flew home from Anchorage – six completed this “last great road trip”. These were Stefano Vichi, the leader and only English speaking member, Roberto Occhialini, Ignazio Piazza, Gualtiero Frassati, Tiziano Godeas and Mara Vecchiet. To find out more about the Artic Route Adventure, visit ArticRouteAdventure.com (be sure to check your spelling — Artic, not Arctic).
6th Cayenne Artic Route Adventure. Top: Grant Yoxon, Autos.ca; Bottom: from left, Rick Bye, Porsche Canada, Rob Rothwell, auto123.com, Tony Morris, Porsche Canada, in Valdez, Alaska. Click image to enlarge
On each of three legs of the trip, Vancouver to Whitehorse, Whitehorse to Anchorage and Anchorage to Vancouver, Porsche graciously reserved at least two seats for Canadian journalists, which is where I and my colleague from Auto123.com, Rob Rothwell, came in for the longest leg of this marathon across the Canadian and American north.
We set out for Valdez, Alaska on Sunday, April 10, with Rob and I assigned to a 2011 Porsche Cayenne V6, the vehicle that we would primarily drive the next six days. There were four vehicles in our convoy — the V6, two V8 Cayenne S’ and a hybrid Cayenne S. We’ll have a review of the hybrid coming up later in the spring.
The Cayenne line-up was completely revised for 2011 with new exterior and interior designs. The base Cayenne is powered by the naturally aspirated 3.6-litre engine found in the previous generation, but it has been upgraded to provide greater power and fuel efficiency. The engine now delivers 300 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and maximum torque of 295 lb.-ft. at 3,000 rpm with a zero-to-100 km/h time of 7.5 seconds.
The standard transmission is a six-speed manual, but our vehicle had the new 8-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission with two overdrive gears that reduce fuel consumption on the highway and keep engine noise to a minimum. Top speed can be reached in sixth and manually shifting the transmission, either with the console shifter or steering wheel mounted paddles, allows the driver full control. As well, the driver can influence the gear shifts using the throttle and brakes. Blipping the throttle will drop the transmission two gears, while under heavy braking the transmission downshifts to give maximum braking assist from the engine. The transmission will adapt to driving style, providing higher rpm shift points under spirited driving but returning to a lower rpm shift point for better fuel economy when cruising.