It was a fun six days and over 2,000 km of driving some of the most exciting cars on the planet, but all good things come to an end. We wrapped up Porsche Club Malaysia’s Drive of the Year 2019 on Friday, and we’re already suffering from withdrawal syndrome.

When we last left you, we had just arrived at the Belum Rainforest Resort in Perak on the third day of the drive, having long ago passed half distance. From there, the 467 km to our final stop in Penang was all that was left, and what lay before us were some of the best roads we encountered on the trip.

Indeed, the action started as soon as we left the car park, with the wide, sweeping East-West Highway giving plenty of room for owners to exercise their cars’ considerable performance. But it was when we turned off onto the roads heading up north into Kedah that the going really got tough.

The undulating tarmac, cut into the region’s barren, rolling hills, not only afforded a fantastic view but also provided a thorough test of the cars’ dynamic capabilities, filled with dips, crests and blind corners. It really was a roller coaster ride, and it’s a testament of Porsche’s engineering prowess that even the large, heavy cars that we drove – the new Cayenne and Panamera 4 Sport Turismo – took it all in their stride.

Sadly, it was all over by lunchtime, as we reached the Shell petrol station at Changlun – just a few kilometres south of the Thai border – for another fuel stop before making a short jaunt to Perlis to fill our tummies. Thereafter, it was only the matter of hopping back onto the North-South Expressway, crossing the majestic Penang Bridge and tracing the island coast to Golden Sands Resort for the night.

The next day, as the owners headed out on a day trip around Penang, us members of the media went back onto the mainland to Porsche Centre Penang to give the two cars a well-deserved wash (to get them ready for us to take the photos you see here). On the way, we stopped by the brand’s latest retail endeavour – a pop-up store nestled within the Gurney Paragon shopping mall.

Aimed at expanding the Zuffenhausen brand experience beyond the traditional sales network, the store has space for a display car – in this case the new 718 Cayman SportDesign – as well as a variety of merchandise and accessories. These include everything from clothes and luggage to teddy bears and pedal cars and even a RM22,000 (!) bookshelf made from the rear wing of a real 911 GT3 Cup racer.

Just like that, it was all over, and the following morning we bid goodbye to PCM and Porsche Club Singapore, cruising straight to Porsche Centre Glenmarie (well, apart for one last detour to Taiping for lunch and a short photo session). As we handed the keys over and booked a Grab back home, we couldn’t help but steal one more glance at the two cars that have been nigh-on bulletproof the entire trip.

Detractors have long criticised Porsche for moving away from solely producing 911s, but this experience proved that the company hasn’t sacrificed the sporting character it has worked so hard to build, despite opening up the brand to a wider audience. And make no mistake, these two offerings are about as far away from Porsche’s core sports cars as you can get whilst still being allowed to wear the hallowed crest.

The Cayenne is a known quantity, the SUV having spawned three generations since the controversial original debuted in 2002. But the Sport Turismo is Porsche’s first wagon, a direct descendant of the well-received 2012 concept of the same name – the same show car that demonstrated the Panamera sedan could actually be good-looking and not bludgeoned by the ugly stick as the first generation was.

Clearly, these two cars are the maxim of the brand’s recent “Sportscar Together” campaign – that sports cars need not be limited to just two people at a time. As you’d expect, then, they both seat four in immense comfort, especially the Panamera with its long wheelbase and cushy individual rear seats.

The occupants are surrounded by plush, well-made cabins that feels just as good as they look, although some of the touches, like the Panamera’s powered air vents, are more gimmicky than actually useful. On the bright side, both cars will easily swallow two full-size suitcases, and the Sport Turismo’s massive 520 litre load bay was even able to carry several buntings for the event on top of that.

But a Porsche earns its keep on the road, and despite being the base models in their respective ranges, the Cayenne and Panamera 4 are still nothing to be sniffed at. Both come with a 3.0 litre twin-turbocharged V6 that sends 330 PS (340 PS in the Cayenne) and 450 Nm of torque to all four wheels, plus the optional Sport Chrono package that adds a few extra high-performance drive modes and a nifty analogue stopwatch.

Even though they weigh the better part of two tonnes, the cars will sprint to 100 km/h in under six seconds – the Cayenne does it in 5.9 seconds, the Panamera in 5.3. Those figures aren’t quite so impressive at a time when modern hot hatches do the same benchmark in numbers beginning with a “4”, but on the flip side, this low-tune V6 is a smooth operator, delivering its torque from low down and sustaining it across the rev range.

Belying the mill’s VW Group roots (the smaller, more powerful 2.9 litre unit in the S models apparently has some Porsche input) is a muffled engine note that has no place in a sporting machine, although the Panamera’s sports exhaust (again, optional) helpfully kicks the noise level up several decibels. With it, the deep, bassy rumble and the pops and crackles on the overrun makes for a much more engaging experience.

Also a smooth operator is the Cayenne’s eight-speed automatic gearbox, which delivers seamless shifts both when you’re at full throttle or just mooching about in town. The Panamera’s PDK dual-clutch unit, on the other hand, is occasionally clunky in stop-start traffic but delivers even faster gear changes – and it’s the only one with a full manual mode. In truth, both transmissions are brilliant, and I’ve got no complaints.

Out on the open road, refinement on both cars is compromised somewhat by the fitment of wide, low-profile tyres that generate a not-insignificant amount of road noise, though wind noise is fairly suppressed and the engine is all but inaudible when you’re cruising on the highway. To help with ride comfort, both cars are equipped with Porsche Air Suspension Management (PASM), which has been made standard-fit this year.

But while both cars still ride with a firm edge, it is the Panamera that is the more cosseting, serving up an impeccable balance between bump absorption and body control. By virtue of its taller body, the Cayenne has to be made stiffer to be able to handle with the same composure, so its ride does jostle its passengers at higher speeds – to the point of making this writer a little carsick on one particularly spirited drive.

The Panamera’s advantage extends to the corners as well, as the low-slung shooting brake feels quite a bit more agile when you turn the wheel. That’s not to say that the Cayenne is a slouch in the bends, not when it comes with the same rear-wheel steering as its sibling.

This, together with masses of grip from the fat tyres and all-wheel drive system, means that both cars can enter and rocket out of the corners with unbelievable speed and ease. Special praise must be heaped onto the speed-sensitive Power Steering Plus system (now also standard across the board on both), which, unlike similar systems from other carmakers, still provides an abundance of feel and precision.

At the end of the 2,069 km road, the Cayenne and Panamera 4 Sport Turismo have managed to win this sceptic over, and having already been blown away by the 911 GT3 last year, I’m convinced these cars will make the perfect addition for Porsche collectors looking to complete their garage. Sportscar Together, indeed.


GALLERY: E3 Porsche Cayenne
GALLERY: G2 Porsche Panamera 4 Sport Turismo