By on July 24, 2017

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“You wanna roll up to this thing with Magnus tomorrow?”

It’s amazing how many times I’m just minding my business, living my best life, and I run into my old friend Matt Farah. In this case, we happened to both be in Miami at the same time for work. My work, of course, being of the cubicle-dwelling, advertising-selling variety, and his being of the driving-an-Aventador S-around-Wynwood-slowly-in-front-of-cameras variety. Naturally, I insisted that we meet up at the most Miami place I could think up, Lagniappe, for some wine, jazz, and excellent company on a Tuesday night.

Turns out that Matt’s good friend and occasional TTAC subject, Magnus Walker, was doing a book signing the following evening at Parkhaus1, a veritable institution in the Porsche community. I normally despise this sort of thing. I’m not a particularly social person to start with, and while I had never made the acquaintance of Mr. Walker and I assumed he was a pleasant and genial fellow, I’m not one to stargaze at another grown man.

“Nah, man. Besides, what would I show up at Parkhaus in? My rental Grand Cherokee (which, by the way, is an excellent vehicle and totes deserving of its own review)?”

“Why don’t you get on Turo and rent something dope?” (Matt says “dope” a lot. And “dank.” I’ve tried his vernacular on for size but it doesn’t work for me.)

Now there’s an idea.

I had never used Turo before, mostly because I rent upwards of 40 cars annually from National for work, so I never have a shortage of free rental car days for personal use. Also, my employer sure as hell isn’t going to reimburse me for a $200+ a day exotic car, and everything else on Turo is comparably more expensive and more janky than anything I’d find on the Emerald Aisle.

So I quickly downloaded the app and began browsing through the available cars. I landed on a BMW i8 in a lovely shade of blue for $199 a day. I clicked to “rent instantly,” entered my credit card information, and began to fantasize about arriving on the scene in the big Electric Boogaloo. However, I quickly received an email notifying me of a lengthy approval process — one that looked like it would take more than 24 to 48 hours to complete. I had to send a picture of my driver’s license, a picture of me holding my driver’s license next to my face, a picture of my credit card, and a copy of my insurance policy. In other words, I had to supply Turo with all of the information that anybody could possibly need to steal my identity forever. Oh, and they wanted a $2,000 deposit, too. I decided to pass and investigate other options.

Hertz DreamCars was willing to rent me a 911 for $159 a day, which seemed like a steal. But wait — they also required a $2,000 deposit and a DMV check. Welllllllll, ol’ Bark’s driving record isn’t the greatest, so that wasn’t going to work. Enterprise had a 911 Cabriolet in white with red leather for $275 a day, and they, too, required a $2,000 deposit, but no DMV check. So I swallowed hard on the deposit and clicked “reserve.”

However, as I awakened the following morning in a haze from the lovely red wine we had consumed, I couldn’t get the thought of the i8 out of my head. So I did something I very, very rarely do.

I pulled the journo card. I emailed Turo and said, “Hi, I’m Mark Baruth, and I’d like to rent a car from you without having to jump through all your hoops.” Within 30 minutes I was approved to drive one of their Standard or Luxury vehicles. That did not include the i8, which was considered a Premium vehicle — they would still require a longer approval process for that.

But it did include a 2014 Porsche 911 Carrera, resplendent in red with black leather interior. $204 a day, but no deposit. I canceled my Enterprise reservation and selected the rouge Super Beetle, which was located right on Calle Ocho, around the corner from my Coconut Grove home on Calle Ocho. I picked up mi pequena amiga Lulu (because what good is renting a red Porsche in Miami if you don’t have a Latina in a black dress to ride shotgun?) and we ubered over to pick up the 991 from the owner, Joseph, at his brand new condo building across from my favorite Mexican Miami spot, Mi Rinconcito Mexicano.

Joseph was a chill, younger dude with a backwards, flat-brimmed hat. We shook hands and followed him out behind the building. And there it was — a superbly detailed, spotless red PDK-equipped 991. We did a quick walkaround of the car, noted the mileage (17,550 miles) and condition of the vehicle, and he offered a quick Turo orientation, explaining how the TollPass and mileage limits worked. I had 150 miles for the one-day rental, and any toll charges would be passed directly along to me.

“Have you ever driven a Porsche before?” he asked.

I thought to myself for a moment. Yes, I have. I’ve owned Porsches before. I have driven everything from a 944 to a 991 GT3 and Turbo S. But this would be my first time with a regular ol’ 991 Carrera. “Yes, many times. But yours is gorgeous.”

“Cool, man. Enjoy it!”

I slowly rolled away from the parking lot, and pulled out onto 19th Avenue. We had a little bit of time before the event, so I decided to roll out to my favorite Peruvian restaurant in Miami, Divino Ceviche. Given the fact that it was 5:15, and I was trying to get from Little Havana to Doral, this was maybe not the best idea.

The first thing you notice about driving a 991 in Miami rush hour traffic is that you are very, very low. The omnipresent G Wagens and X5s barely notice your existence — I was forced into evasive action no fewer than three times by oblivious CUV/SUV drivers before I even made it to the highway.

The second thing you notice is that while the 991 makes very neat sounds, it’s just not very quick. In fact, it’s slower from 0-30 than your average Golf R, WRX, or Focus RS, and just about the same from 0-60. The steering rack is bizarrely heavy, too. In comparison to its more performance-oriented siblings, the GT3 and Turbo S, the Carrera is slow to respond to inputs. Sport mode makes throttle response a little better and makes the noises even burblier, but the 991 just isn’t a fast car. I know, I know, you’re going to complain about this and call me a spoiled brat and tell me about the time in 1986 when 4.8 seconds from 0-60 would have made this the fastest car in the galaxy, but it’s true.

And then you notice the interior is kinda…spartan. I mean, it’s nice and all, but the seats feel squishy and unsupportive, the infotainment system just looks old, and the friggin’ USB port is in the glovebox. The dash is confusing, and the rear-view mirrors are virtually useless.

But then you catch a glimpse of yourself in it in a passing mirror or window reflection, and all is forgiven. Because it is fucking gorgeous, and this is undeniable.

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All of a sudden, the car’s faults become charming. The interior isn’t spartan, it’s quaint and idiomatically correct, a throwback to the 911’s roots. It isn’t slow, it’s a proper touring car, and who wants to drive one of those hopped-up shitboxes anyway? This is a 911, damnit, and that slow steering rack is just there to keep noobs from killing themselves, am i right? Of course I am.

And then you roll up to the Porsche place with all the Porsches and the other owners give you a nod and you can buy a PCA hat and isn’t it all just wonderful? In fact, the best thing my rental 911 did was cruise slowly as I pulled up to Parkhaus. We showed up 20 minutes after the event had started, so naturally the entire street was lined with RWB Porsches, older 964s, and even a freaking 991 R. Farah’s Aventador S was double-parked next to an Orange Gallardo, and he waved at me as I rolled by. “Not bad for $200!” he shouted! Dude, why you gotta call me out for being in a rental, yo?

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Parkhaus is a miraculous place, full of wondrous creations from all generations of Porsche. (This one was my favorite.) The shop is overflowing with Speedsters and RSes and oh-my-god-did-you-see-that, to the point where I walk by a 991 GT3 and it barely registers. This is Miami Porsche culture at its ultimate. You want to be cool and act like you’re not impressed by anything, but it’s just not possible. If you have a pulse, you can’t help but fall in love a little bit with every one of the cars, each one with its own character, its own story. There are no boring, base, blah cars here. It’s a museum, and the pieces of art just happen to have four wheels and engines.

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The line to meet Walker is well over an hour long, and he quickly sells out all of the 150 books he’s brought with him. But the crowd surrounding Farah at any given time is nearly as large. I estimate that well over 300 people ask for a picture or a selfie with Matt throughout the course of the evening, and I quickly became a bit of a handler, moving the would-be groupies in and out of position. Of the hundreds of fans, exactly two are women.

One young man looks at me and says, “I know you, right? You’re a writer or something?”

For the second time that day, I prepare to leverage my autowriter credentials. Perhaps sign an autograph or pose for a picture. “Yes, I’m Mark Baruth.”

His eyes widen. He becomes excited.

“You’re…you’re…you’re Jack Baruth’s brother! I love his Road & Track columns! Tell him I’m a big fan.”

Oh, for fuck’s sake, man.

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As the evening wound down, Matt stopped over to say hi to Magnus, two gents with Instagram followers well into six figures. This delighted the fans in attendance to no end, most of whom were nearly orgasmic to be able get a picture of their two heroes together. I briefly shook Magnus’ hand, took a photo for the gram, and we bounced. Or, we tried to, anyway. It was tough to extract him from the legions of fans, but we finally escaped, I in my 911 and Matt in his Aventador (possessive adjectives being relative here) over to the Spillover in Coconut Grove for a flight of mead.

Unfortunately, the next day wasn’t nearly as exciting, as it was back to the office for me and a 7:00 am flight for Matt. But since I had the 991 until 5:00 with over 100 miles of rental mileage to spare, I decided to take the red (non)barchetta to the office just for the hell of it. And this time, I woke up early to avoid rush hour and actually enjoy my drive.

It made all the difference. No, the Carrera isn’t fast, but it’s a treat to drive in ways that other, faster cars aren’t. The elements that it lacks in comparison to the GT3 and the Turbo S make it easier to deal with in daily life. You can take it over a speed bump or up a driveway without holding your breath. The sounds from the exhaust are fun, but not annoying or overwhelming. And I didn’t have to drive it over 80 mph to enjoy it — but I did anyway. At higher speeds, you start to appreciate the heavier steering a bit, as it makes the car feel stable and safe amongst the behemoths of the highway.

Turning in the car at the end of the day was easy. Joseph requested a receipt showing that I had fueled it with 93 octane fuel, and I uploaded photos of the mileage, fuel tank, and condition of the car into the Turo app. Joseph was there to meet me at his condo right at 5:00 on the dot, and after a quick signature confirming the mileage, I was on my way back home in my Uber Civic. My total for the rental was $224 plus about $20 in gasoline.

Would I use Turo again? Absolutely. It was a quick, easy way to grab a fun car for a day. Were I financially so inclined, I could get 15 percent off my daily rental fee to rent a car for a week, too. At my income level, I still don’t want to pay $175 a day for seven days on vacation, but if I were a little wealthier? Why not? If you love cars and you want something a little more unique, it’s worth it. The app was easy to use, and the experience was phenomenal.

Now, here’s the tougher question: Would I spend the $75,000 required to buy a similar pre-owned 2014 Carrera? No. Not even close. I’d rather take a new Corvette Grand Sport, Mustang GT350R, or even bump up a little to an Evora 400. The Carrera provides a small sample of the Porsche owner experience, but the actual driving experience falls far short of the other cars available in a similar or even lower price bracket.

Just like many people might say about Miami, the 991 Carrera is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

[Images: © Mark “Bark M.” Baruth]

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33 Comments on “Rental Car Review: 2014 Porsche 911 Carrera or, I Rented a Porsche to Meet Magnus Walker and I Didn’t Even Get a Lousy T-shirt...”


  • avatar
    RHD

    The classic Porsche is becoming, one small step at a time, a Scion FR-S.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    All those T-shirts at a ‘high end’ event ? .

    I know I’m a geezer but seriously .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.” – Written on the Baruth Family Coat of Arms

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        ? What about the caps and scraggly beards ? this looks like the trailer trash I lived with in rural New England in the 1960’s ~ we’da been booted out of the Chevy truck dealership for looking like this .

        NOW GET OFFA MY LAWN ! .

        (damned hippies)

        -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      robc123

      yep. was just thinking the exact same thing. I bet there is a tatoo’er in the back tatooing.

      what a bunch of trash.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    That supersaturated Mustang Race Red-ish color is awesome. Works on any coupe.

  • avatar
    ...m...

    “You’re…you’re…you’re Jack Baruth’s brother! Tell him I’m a big fan!”

    …laughing so hard here, man, you have *got* to make this into a t-shirt…

  • avatar
    JimZ

    as much as Farah is a real car guy, I could never take much of his podcast due to his constant blubbering about how much he loves living in southern California.

  • avatar
    Dingleberrypiez_Returns

    No way would I rent out my personal vehicle to Joe Schmoe. The only reason I can see for pimping out your vehicle on Turo is if you can’t afford it to begin with. So frankly, backwards cap wearing bro doesn’t own that 911 either. Same goes for folks who “own” their homes but need to rent out the spare studio on Airbnb.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      The people I know who rent rooms on Airbnb generally don’t “need” to do it but see it as an easy source of extra income. This applies whether or not they own their residence.

      It doesn’t make sense to buy something that you can only afford by then subletting it, but as long as it’s insured and there are clear damage/deposit policies in place I don’t see anything wrong with renting out a fun car (or guest room) that would otherwise go unused that day.

      • 0 avatar
        Dingleberrypiez_Returns

        I concede that it’s not a perfect comparison (Turo-ing your fun car vs. Airbnb-ing). Where I live, realtors are literally encouraging buyers to buy above their means with the promise of Airbnb being able to fill the gap.

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          “Where I live, realtors are literally encouraging buyers to buy above their means with the promise of Airbnb being able to fill the gap.”

          I agree, that’s exceedingly dumb.

          I suspect that this behavior describes the minority of Turo/Airbnb users, but I’m also an optimist.

          • 0 avatar
            Dingleberrypiez_Returns

            I’ve seen a ton of anecdotal evidence (both in my own life and through online accounts) demonstrating that folks are buying fancy second cars relying on renting them in order to afford them. I suppose there are some other reasons to rent out your personal vehicle, but I think it’s more than a small percentage who do it just to be able to afford/justify a car they could otherwise pull off. Which is fine, people can do what they want, but they don’t own the car anymore than Bark does for those 24 hours. They’re posers.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    I feel like I missed something fundamental.

    Why couldn’t you show up at this thing in a rented Jeep? Driving wasn’t part of the event, right?

  • avatar
    windnsea00

    Interesting observations on the 991, just helped my friend pick up a mint 2015 CPO 911 last week. Metallic black on black with PDK and a few basic options. The gearing is a bit long legged and the 3.4 engine doesn’t really wake up until 4k+ rpms, I too thought it felt pretty gutless down low…obviously now solved with the new turbo engines.

    Driving it back to back with my 997.1 3.6L 6-spd, my car feels peppier down low despite being rated at 25hp less. Nonetheless, she’s ecstatic coming from a Lexus NX200 and is learning to wind out the engine manually shifting after me showing the world of fun to be had from 4-7.5k rpms.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    911s feel slow because they are geared loooooooooong. I think 2nd gear goes up to 80 or something ridiculous like that. Gearing is usually one of the first things builders attack on them.

    I think the 997 is the sweet spot of the watercooled Carrera range. For the 6 figure entry fee to the 991s I think I’d rather get a 997 GT3 or something. And a 997 C2 is in the “very nice Camry” price range. I want one

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    Turo sounds great in principle, but the whole meetup/dropoff/gas verification/ Uber pickup is way more inconvenience than I would be willing to tolerate on any trip. The extra $50 to rent from Enterprise would have been well worth it, IMO.

    • 0 avatar

      I should clarify, it would have been more like $100 more after taxes, plus that pesky $2,000 deposit. In my experience, companies don’t take deposits unless they intend to keep some of it.

    • 0 avatar
      Reino

      Many Turo owners will drive the car to meet you at the airport and then they will Uber home. It’s actually not that inconvenient, and you actually get to meet an enthusiast who loves his car, instead of a rental-counter clerk who hates his job.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    I followed the author’s link to his favorite, which turns out to be a cherry 993 Turbo from 1997 with fewer than 15K miles on it for a handful of pfennigs under $180K. Lovely car, but if you’ve never read about how the cost of Porsche options can add up, you’ve only to look at how its seat heaters are shown as separate options for each of left and right. Ditto the lumbar supports.

    I’ve only driven three Porsches: a stock 996 water pumper back when they first came out, a prepped Cayman S and a Porsche Super Cup race car — all on racetracks.

    Since my wife and I are calibrated differently when it comes to what cars should cost I’ll probably never own a Porsche, but if I did it might have to be a Cayman GTS.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    Bark,

    Last I remember, you were in the land of racehorses and mint juleps. Have you permanently moved to Miami or is it just a short time work thing?

    Oh, and welcome back!

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I suspect if it were a 6MT (or did the non-S get the 7spd?) it would’ve made a little difference

  • avatar
    pprj

    I believe that the base (if there is anything really base here) 911 is where the fun is.
    Linear power, learn to keep your revs in the right range, carry momentum etc.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    What a great read. This is the type of article that is lifestyle and car culture intertwined. South Florida is like a different country. I would never know about those restaurants or cool places but good to live them through your experiences. It is like that article by Jack in Vegas. Matt Farah is also really cool.

    I really don’t like Porsches, but that red one does look appealing. The only Porsche I lusted after was the Risky Business 928. I am convinced both my 2014 deep impact blue Mustang GT and Admiral blue Stingray are faster. But can’t go wrong if you like to just cruise with that Porsche if you have the cash. Get the Vette Grand Sport, it is the sweetest segment of market for Vettes. Still the 2018 Mustang GT also sounds really appealing.

    As an owner of a 2011 Green Jeep Grand Cherokee I love to read about your thoughts on the subject of a new one. I am considering a Laredo 4×4 True blue one, and I like to know how the ZF 8 speed automatic matches against my trusty but sluggish Mercedes designed five speed. To me the Grand Cherokee is the best SUV on the market today.

    More articles like this will soon make Jack your brother. Great writing.

  • avatar
    verdelaw

    Just did this very thing, on the other coast. 2014 911 Carrera. It was disappointing overall. City, highway, freeway driving were all meh at best. Interior was hard and spartan like Bark mentioned. Acceleration was meh overall, even tried WOT a couple times; it was fun but not exhilarating or remotely scary. Appearance is 10/10 easily, but that quickly wears thin with all the shortcomings. I found the seats comfortable and well-adjustable. The infotainment was average; not bad.. I did like the amount of info/directions/data you could get in that small section in the gauge cluster. The doors do NOT have that reassuring German thunk as they open or close that people talk about.. light and cheap feeling. Worse with the behind-the-wheel stalks; they felt and sounded like the cheapest hollow plastic you’ve ever experienced. Kinda junky. The buttons and switches are semi-intuitive, but not all that ergonomic… for instance the window controls are tiny and sharp on the door. You really have to pay attention to what you’re doing simply to find the right button and then roll the window to where you want it. Where’s that vaunted engineering all the fanboys are always gushing about?

    Then I took it to the canyons, and the car shone! The steering was precise and glorious, the suspension was on point, the cross-drilled brakes were fantastic, and the tires were.. good. But how often are you carving canyons? Depends on where you live I guess.

    Overall the car was just ok.. and definitely not worth the $75k-ish that KBB told me it was currently worth. You could almost buy 3 Mustang GTs for that! BTW the Mustang will easily out-accelerate it, will fit more (people and stuff), be cheaper to own (insurance, gas, maintenance, etc). I think the only thing it won’t do as well is look as good (the Porsche does look great), and it won’t carve canyons nearly as well despite the indy rear. The interiors are on par with each other, even the comfort. If you don’t like Mustangs, then insert whatever more mainstream “performance” car you want, and it’d probably still be smarter than the Porsche.

    • 0 avatar
      Reino

      This has been said ad naseum: the Cayman is the better drivers car and better value than the base 911. The base 911 only exists to provide a chassis for the GT3 and other race car variants.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Snavely

      +1
      A few months ago I rented a different car each day (!) for 10 days with Turo in LA — drove hard in canyons and lots of various traffic etc. Turo has a dedicated & staffed lot a few miles from LAX which makes the process a breeze.
      My least favorite car hands down was the base 991 cab (I know, coupe would have been better driver’s car).
      I own a manual 997.1 C2 coupe and it’s wayyyy more engaging to drive. I have driven PDK extensively so it wasn’t clouding my judgement.
      The 981 Boxster is much more enjoyable than the base 991 cab, feels lighter and more nimble.

      The base F-type convertible I rented was more fun car in every way than the base 991 — it had more character, power, better sound, better sense of occasion, etc. Handling was not better but still fun.
      The Golf R was wayyy more fun on the canyon roads than the base 991 — it stuck like glue, never squealed a tire.
      Not a fair comparo, but the Cayman GT4 was by far the best car I drove (and I enjoyed it more than the 991 GT3 also).

      The 991.1 is a GT now plain and simple. The Cayman/Boxster are Porsche’s sports cars. The price difference for the 991 is not at all worth it unless money is no object.

  • avatar
    Caboose

    He called you out for being in a rental?

    That is double-undope.

  • avatar
    robc123

    SO shitty, rusty, bagged out VW’s are going for 200k? and 90’s lived in cars for $100k+.

    This old porsche fetishism is laughable, they are not great cars- even their interiors suck, pasted together carpeting, weird bumps all uneven all over the place. Engine hanging over the back axle, ready to kill at a moments notice.

    Even if you don’t agree with me, ask yourself- in a couple years, $400k for a 90’s unrestored targa, well over what you can buy sub 100k new.

    Is that reasonable?

  • avatar
    webebob

    They haven’t made a real porsche 911 since 1998; now Porsche et al make computers thinly veiled as cars. But with respect to your commuting in a large metropolitan city; Dudley Moore (as Arthur) hit the nail on the head, meet your mechanic at the track and drive your trailered porsche the way it was meant to be; then get back in your Classic Rolls, or modern day 2 1/2 ton pickup truck and do the real battles on the mean streets of metropolis suitably armored. All these poseurs driving performance cars back and forth, back and forth, in straight lines, whoopee. But yesterday, August 1, they would have relived a Cruise movie, specifically, “Alright, who’s the u-boat commander” as all of Miami Beach and Brickell ave went under water due to TS Emily rains. Nobody ever expects a used porsche from South Florida can be a flood car. Love that salt water “etching” on a German steel unibody.


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