All right you hosers, here’s how we review a car like that in Canada. Read More >
I know what you’re thinking.
I’m thinking it too.
Why me? How, with a host of competent hot-shoes, seriously-journalistic scribes and industry insiders here at TTAC, do the keys to a presser Porsche 911 get handed to the guy who publicly admitted to being not a very good driver and who has an unfortunate tendency to use four long words where one short one would do nicely? Would not the readership be better served by someone who could give you an in-depth, accurate 10/10ths dynamic assessment, or a brief, sober buyer’s summary?
Oh, probably. But there are two very good reasons I’ve got this thing.
Strongly feel that Porsche should stick to sports cars? Personally, I’m willing to cut Zuffenhausen a little slack. Sports car sales, with their boom-and-bust cycles, don’t provide a sound foundation for corporate financial health. A more reasonable test: does Porsche’s entry look and drive unlike any other, in a manner consistent with the marque? Though not pretty, the Panamera passed this test. And the Cayenne SUV?
Good news, everybody! All that drama with the nice people at Porsche is totally over! Here’s how the phone conversation went:
Jack: STOP CALLING ME! It isn’t mine! I had a vasectomy! I told you beforehand! YOU SAW THE SCARS!
Unknown Caller: Jack, this is Gary Fong, from Porsche Cars North America.
Jack: What can I do for you, Mr. Fong?
Gary Fong: Jack, we want to put this all behind us. All us guys at the office put our heads together and decided that a guy who owns three of our cars, has put hundreds of racetrack laps on Porsches, has served as a driving instructor for dozens of Porsche owners, and has over a million readers every single month of the year deserves at least as much press access as, say, raw-dog random blogs with one comment per article. We’re going to start you off with one of the crown jewels in our lineup: the 2011 911 Turbo S. In Macadamia Brown, of course, and with a sticker of $186,985.
Jack: Gary, I feel this marks a new era of trust and cooperation between our companies, and the real winner of this will be our valued readers.
Gary: Jack, I couldn’t agree more. It isn’t about fluffing moronic racetrack oilers or providing free business-class air travel to people who couldn’t hold up the ass end of a pre-school bicycle rodeo. It’s about making sure Porsche fans, and customers, everywhere, learn the truth about our cars.
I was humbled by Porsche’s decision. And as I stepped out of my white 993 and prepared to experience the 911 Turbo S for the first time, I realized something:
The Porsche Panamera: should it exist? Eight years after the introduction of the Cayenne SUV, many enthusiasts remain steadfast in their conviction that Porsche should stick to sports cars with aft-mounted powerplants. While a two-ton four-door is certainly a lesser evil, has Porsche managed to offer one for which there is no available substitute? A $69,000 Cadillac CTS-V performs extremely well, in both objective and subjective terms. Why, then, spend tens of thousands more for a Panamera?
300 plus horsepower, mid-engine sportscars are a rare breed. It stands to reason then, that they should be reviewed by someone who can put them into their rarefied context. The kind of reviewer who can tell you the subtle handling differences between each generation of the 911, and whose keyboard is stained with the oil of a hundred home-rebuilt crankcases. At the very least, they should be reviewed by the kind of people who get regular seat time in the unjustifiably potent mid-engined supercars that you’d have to purchase to one-up a mid-engine Porsche’s considerable capabilities. So what happens when a Porsche Cayman S ends up in the hands of someone who is used to getting their motoring kicks with a mass-market hatchback?
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The fastest car I have ever driven is, without a doubt, the Switzer P800 variant of Porsche’s 911 GT2, as reviewed here. The folks at TPC have a roughly similar tuning package that retains the Porsche variable-geometry turbochargers, claimed to produce 775 horsepower and rather amusingly called the “775 Blitzkrieg”. This past September, I had the opportunity to take a ride with TPC’s founder Mike Levitas in the prototype Blitzkrieg. It’s awfully quick, if perhaps not quite as violently impressive as Switzer’s car. However, since TPC was unwilling to let us drive the Blitzkrieg, and since TTAC is unwilling to follow the lead of EVO, Top Gear, and pretty much every other print rag in the free world by writing-up a ride-along as a road test, that’s where we have to let the matter rest. It seems like a good car and if you have money to burn, give TPC a call to find out for yourself.
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As a child, I owned something called the Lego “Expert Builder Car”. It was a fascinating product. From one box of a thousand or so Lego pieces, it was possible to build many different kinds of cars, up to and including a two-seat roadster with a working transmission. Top-notch fun, and if Lego eventually took it off the market in favor of less advanced kits focusing on Star Wars, Disneyworld, and (possibly) Twilight then we have only the abject failure of the American educational system to blame.
Quick: name a major multinational automotive motorsport series where a rear-wheel drive, naturally aspirated vehicle isn’t the dominant player in the field. Sure, there’s a turbo here and Quattro there, but the Porsche GT3’s template is the recipe for success from F1 to the 24 hours of LeMans. This simplistic design demands predictable power and handling poise, rewarding the driver with a loyal soldier who doesn’t lose steam from heat stroke, or fall to a snapped axle shaft or roasted clutch. Which is why the Porsche GT3 is an effortless street machine that’ll never miss a beat on the track.
It’s difficult to put a price on cynicism in this day and age, but allow me to make a suggestion: $13,900. Four years ago, the newly-introduced Porsche Cayman 3.4S retailed for $58,900. The mechanically similar Boxster 2.7 was $45K flat. That nearly fourteen-grand price difference would have purchased a well-equipped Hyundai Elantra, but at Porsche it got the Cayman buyer a hardtop, which costs less to manufacture than the Boxster’s soft top, and a bored-out engine, which costs exactly the same to make as the small-bore variant.
This is a moment too powerful to be taken lightly, too special to be considered ironically, too vital to examine with any pretense of journalistic impartiality. I am seated behind the wheel of an absolutely perfect, fully-loaded, brand-new Porsche GT2, unwinding the wheel at the exit of Nelson Ledges Road Course’s Carousel turn. Next to me, the car’s owner, entrepreneur and bon vivant David Kim, has planted himself squarely into the GT2’s fixed-back passenger-side bucket, rigid with anticipation. There is traffic ahead, several cars varying from Improved Touring racers to tuned-up street Hondas. It’s time to accelerate, so I press the right pedal into the carpet.
Review: 2009 Porsche GT2 — Switzer Performance P800 Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars
The propaganda literature that accompanied the little batch of sleeping pills—complete with a waiver absolving the USAF of all liability—promised that I would awake refreshed and ready to battle desert ninjas. Sure enough, I awoke alert. But mentally, I wasn’t all there. I was fully aware of my full potential, and could access it at will, but there was a disconcerting disconnect. No, I didn’t drive the Cayman PDK in this altered state. It’s the same feeling created by the German two-door. Yes, the paddle-shift Cayman is a full-on Porsche. It offers precise handling, a jewel of an engine and magnificent brakes. Yet the Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe stood in the way of the Porker’s legendary man – machine interface. It created dynamic doubts that I’ve never experienced in a Porsche before.
Review: 2010 Porsche Cayman PDK Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
In theory, a dual clutch gearbox offers drivers the best of both worlds: a corner-carving-compliant paddle shift system (complete with computer-controlled, rev-matching throttle blipping) and a waft-enabling automatic gearbox. As developed by the BorgWarner, the DSG version lifted a well-sorted VW Golf GTI into automotive Valhalla. Porsche fans arched their collective eyebrows, anticipating the day when Stuttgart would perform a similar transformation for the world’s only best everyday supercar: the 911. Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) is here, attached to the model’s 900th evolution. Is the system finally ready for hammer time?
2009 Porsche Carrera PDK Review Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
There I was cutting, clipping and carving corners in the ultimate Porsche 911, balancing the need for speed with self-control. I felt like an Olympic skier or Iron Chef. But there was an element missing from the GT2 experience, a deficiency that niggled like a loose ski boot or a nicked Shun Santoku. Torque. As in instant-on shove. Porsche's brilliant 3.6-liter boxer engine has too much boost and not enough low-end grunt. But isn't perfection standard in a Porsche, especially for one that costs $197,000?
2008 Porsche 911 GT2 Review Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
"The Porsche Cayenne is a deeply misunderstood machine," RF told me before my test drive. "It's one of the world's fastest off-roaders, not a house-broken truck." Huh? Why would a world famous sports car maker (if not THE world famous sports car maker) tempt infamy by making a kick-ass mud plugger instead of a FX-style sports-car-on-stilts? The answer, I'm told, lies deep in Porsche's DNA. In the late eighties, Porsche jacked-up their 959 supercar and entered it in the grueling Paris – Dakar rally. In their second attempt, the German automaker scooped first, second and sixth places. "Take the entry level V6 off road," RF commanded. "Thrash it without mercy. THEN tell me what you think." Sounded like a plan.
2008 Porsche Cayenne Review Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars