After driving a dozen different Porsches in a day, you tend to discover a thing or two
SEPANG, MALAYSIA — The Porsche World Road Show is something of a sportscar sampler, and after we drove a dozen different Porsches at this year’s edition in Sepang, we came back with three takeaways:
People don’t know how good a Boxster is…
… until they drive one. Most people think of the 911 as Porsche’s “true” sportscar, but it turns out that driving a Boxster on the track for the first time is a revelation to customers. No surprise to us: the Boxster’s mid-engine layout creates a supremely agile car that’s always felt balanced and friendly, making it a longtime favourite of the CarBuyer team.
Turns out the new 718 Boxster is a treat. At Sepang it had a sweeter, more stable turn-in than the 911 models, especially in the high-speed corners. Overall, the 911 still feels like it has the edge when it comes to traction out of turns, but customers who drive a Boxster in anger are always impressed. “If they are on a small track they always prefer the mid-engined concept. It’s so agile on small tracks,” says Jukka Honkavuori, a Porsche driving instructor.
As for the new turbo four-cylinder models, the 2.5-litre Boxster S has much more get-up-and-go than its six-cylinder predecessor. It’s got a huge amount of ready torque, and the acceleration is strong enough that you can keep up with a 911 pretty easily if you know what you’re doing. That brings us to our next point, which is that…
Raw power isn’t everything
Say you want a four-door Porsche (that’ll be the Panamera, then) and you fancy yourself a bit of a keen driver. The mighty Turbo S is your automatic choice, then, right? It’s got a twin-turbo V8 with 570hp, after all, and it slingshots to 100km/h in 3.8 seconds. Boom! Decision made.
Not so hasty. At the PWRS we drove one back-to-back with the Panamera GTS, which has “only” 440hp and takes 0.6 seconds longer to reach 100km/h. Guess what? The slower model turned out to be the more satisfying one to drive, thanks to a more exciting engine note, noticeably sharper steering response and tighter suspension.
The Turbo S feels like a fast limo, but it’s the GTS that drives like a lithe four-door sportscar. Both cars have now been replaced by an all-new Panamera, but if you had been shopping for one of the previous models, discovering the GTS’s qualities for yourself at the PWRS would have saved you around $140,000 over the price of a Turbo S.
The 911 Turbo S is even faster than Porsche claims
Officially, the 580 horsepower 911 Turbo S hits 100km/h in 2.9 seconds. Unofficially, however, it’s even faster. Factory drivers told us they’ve routinely nailed 100km/h in 2.7 seconds.
Porsche is conservative with the numbers because the company wants to make sure that the cars can perform as claimed under all circumstances, and deliver the stated figures with ease. But when conditions (ambient temperature, air density, the road surface and so on) are ideal, the cars are often quicker.
Either way, a stomach-churning launch at Sepang showed us one thing: whatever it says on the stopwatch, the Turbo S is unbelievably fast.