Please, not a 911

by | Nov 23, 2018 | Lifestyle, Motoring

Reading time: 5 minutes

We love cars and we love driving. As such, brands like Ferrari, Maserati, McLaren, Lamborghini or Aston Martin generate an immediate tingle in our… nether regions. Porsche is a card-carrying member of this group. And a very important one both because of the history, tradition, focus, racing pedigree and endorsements.

However, some of the reasonable among us, do not really envision the 911 in the pedestal it normally is put upon. Hence, we dig deep into Porsche’s product line-up looking for something more in line with people’s realities.

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And we start with the Porsche Boxter. Yes, the cheapest out of Stuttgart. But in our case, the GTS iteration, which delivers 365HP from a 2l turbo engine, through a double-clutch gearbox, and on a mid-engine chassis configuration.

Some might say that this is the poor man’s 911, that only those that can’t afford the flagship would buy one and that it is a cop-out from Porsche just to increase revenue. Some, are wrong.

The 911 is what anyone thinks about when mentioning the brand. But, were you to actually drive one, you’d find they are complicated, not easy to drive, odd and, most of all, extremely impractical. The 2+2 configuration is just ridiculous and after a little while, the only rear-seat passengers are forgotten documents from the latest NASDAQ IPO. The Boxter is not only different, it is better.

First off, it is a two-seater. Unlike the Carrera, you purchase it in accordance with your significant other as a toy to enjoy in partnership. On the other hand, when you buy the 911 you present it with the excuse that, when needed, the kids can go in the back. Unrealistic and selfish. And a lie. Granted, lying is where marriages normally end up, but why have a car add to it?

Then, you need only to take it out of the driveway to perceive lightness, control, twitchy steering and cat-like reflexes, sensitive throttle and razor-sharp engine response. It is a care-free ride that makes you young, reminds you of the joi-de-vivre of simpler times when school bills and retirement accounts were problems future-me would take care of. It’s just fun, fun, fun.

The highest Lateral G outside a Supercar

Low to the ground, spartan on the settings and easy on the turns. There is certainly no need to engage suspension, set chassis response and consult take-off checklist to take the upcoming twisty bit of road in a little bit of a panic. Just push the pedal a little, grab the steering and start playing with the gear paddles. The results are immediately transmitted to your glutes. Unsettling the GTS in a turn is hard. Lateral grip goes up to 1.1G before giving so, at that point, it is your neck the one to hurt before the tires go squeak. Amazing.

The Flash, dear colleague and misguided soul, likes to live in the past. Thus, he whines about turbos, small engines, character and all sorts of nonsense, while loving the murderous trait of losing all steering when accelerating. That is, the 911. I, on the other hand, can appreciate the technical achievement of having full torque availability at any engine speed. It’s like saying you appreciate the greasy pizza because my blind granny used to make it bad, but was my granny.

Thus, the GTS is better than the 911 in every way but one. Top speed. And that’s only because the bean counters in Stuttgart need the Euro the Carrera leaves. Plus, of course, the high rate of accidents the lack of steering provokes, will forever keep the dealers happy. 

The slower and cheaper wins

So, to conclude, I would blindly get the Boxter over the 911. And with the balance, pay for the insurance for 5 years, a few bitcoins and, by the time I sell it, cash the crypto and buy another one.

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Now, moving on to the Panamera Estate. Sport Turismo, I think they call it. First, it is good looking. It has an aesthetic that is quite distinctive and with its own personality. As much as I like the Boxter, it does look like a shrunk 911. The standard Panamera looks like a 911 with an allergy reaction, while the Cayenne (VW) looks like a 911 with a penchant for fast food.

Then, it is a hybrid. Yes, a 460HP hybrid, but one nonetheless so unless it is a mid engine million dollar supercar, that means a tamed rational transportation pod that drinks gasoline the way a sommelier tastes wine.

And finally, it is a 2.2 ton Porsche. A contradiction in terms. An oxymoron on wheels. A shame. It is James Corden in the Backstreet Boys, Michael Moore in the Harlem Globe Trotters, chicken nuggets in Jamie Oliver’s kitchen or Infiniti in the luxury car segment. 

An oxymoron that just makes sense

That is, until you sit in it. That is, until you drive it. That is, until you feel the unflinching chassis, the intelligent suspension and the lowest center of gravity ever known to a sedan powered by a combustion engine. This thing is really amazing. It combines the immediacy of the electric motor with the top end of the 3l turbo for a continuous availability of power. The steering, an electrical one, is precise to no end, and the 7-speed PDK turn the Sport Turismo into a twisty-bend gobbling monster.

Plus, it does it in comfort, with leather seats of pristine quality and with a fantastic solid feel. We only drove the car for a few hours, so this is more an opinion than a statement, but long drives don’t appear to pose any difficulty at all. Take that, you 911 with your teeth rattling suspension and your silly noisy ride.

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Add to this the technological investment deployed in this car. Not catering to Dark Ages purists, Porsche has placed haptic buttons, touch screens, an almost fully digital display and configurable buttons on the steering wheel. I say almost fully digital because, being a Porsche, it still has a needle in the middle of the screen, to show RPMs, apparently.

Then there is the space. Giraffe-necked individuals such as myself have trouble fitting even in the largest sedans. Not here. Since the roof remains horizontal for a little spell, I can comfortably seat in the back and watch Toy Story on the telly in front of me. 

Was this a review, I would go into details over the stereo, the seats, the parking aids, the engine bay and all the other minutiae that would justify the price, but I am not going to do that. The whole point of this diatribe is to know whether the Panamera is a 911 sub. And the reality, is that it’s not. It is much better than the Carrera. In every way but one: lap times. 

It is easier to drive, easier to control while sideways (I am told), better at the shops, more comfortable, seats four, has better sound system, looks better, has a more imposing presence, betrays maturity in the driver, states family thinking (which in turn will make it easier for the owner to… pair up), it’s easier to get into and easier to get out off, it’s more economical at the pump and has soft closing doors.

It is also more expensive. Quite a bit more, actually, so as a statement of wealth, it also works better. And now don’t you dare tell me that the 911 owner has another car. Because it’s true, but that’s driven by the partner. Do the math here, and a Boxter + Panamera is better in every way than the 911 + Cayenne. Even in price. You can check The Flash‘s misguided version of this article for actual price comparisons, but you get the gist.

The fat and electric wins

Thus, farewell Porsche Beetle. Your stubborn lack of capacity to adapt to modern times is now almost at an end. With electricity coming up, I doubt even Porsche will dare putting the batteries hanging out the back. However, I would not be totally surprised if the car that substitutes you decides, for some stupid reason, to put the heavy electricity storage in the roof. And spend the next 60 years evolving the concept to make it drivable. At this point… I wouldn’t be surprised.