No flights? Right, we'll drive to Leipzig instead
As you may have seen on every news channel going recently, a volcano recently erupted somewhere cold and sent a bit of ash over Europe meaning no planes were allowed in the sky.
As someone who is never the most confident of flyers, I was perfectly happy to not take the risk of plummeting towards a premature and messy death in a plane. I was not unhappy that the aviation authorities were not going to let us fly through said ash cloud to Leipzig to drive the new Porsche Cayenne.
However, the Porsche people are a determined bunch, and weren't going to let such a minor matter get in the way of the launch of such an important and profitable car. The call came on Friday afternoon and went something like this:
Porsche: "Hello it's Porsche here, we have decided we are going to drive to Leipzig as we can't fly."
Us: "Er, ok."
Porsche: "We are taking a fleet of Panameras over on Sunday, driving the Cayenne on Monday and driving back on Tuesday – do you still want to come?"
Us: "Er, yeah!"
It seems many of our colleagues were not so keen/were too lazy to give up their Sundays/actually had a real life and had other plans so it was only six journalists that made the trip in the end. Given we had to get to Folkestone for 10am on Sunday, you can perhaps understand why. But those that didn't make it missed out on nearly 1,200 miles of autobahn cruising.
One colleague spent most of the trip there and back working in the back while he was not driving, and the rest of us did our best to keep the average speed as high as possible. On the way there we managed the 570 mile trip in about 7 hours or so, including stops. After my taking the wheel for the final 250 mile section, the trip computer showed we had completed the whole journey at an average speed of 82mph. Given our speed – our car hit a top speed of 163mph on the derestricted Autobahn – and the 400bhp 4.8-litre V8 engine in our Panamera 4S, the 23.8mpg we managed was also really rather impressive.
The trip was not without the occasional noteworthy moment – the pilots of the standard Panamera S were smug about arriving at our hotel first, until they realised they really had eked out every drop of fuel in the process and had to be pushed out of the car park for the return journey.
Other than that it was just the usual road works in Germany, the occasional crash to steer around and the hell that is the Antwerp ring road. Granted the launch took a day longer than it should have, but a sympathetic editor turned a blind eye to my being out of the office a day longer than expected and I got to spend some time realising that perhaps our Top Ten road trip cars feature was wrong – the Panamera should have definitely been at number one.