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A Plethora Of Porsches - Quite An Experience 2

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The DriveWrite Archives

A Plethora Of Porsches - Quite An Experience 2

Geoff Maxted
December 28, 2013

Porsche Porsche
Well, as ever, Christmas has come and gone and it is disappointing to report that once again nobody bought me a Porsche. Not even a used one. I can see a trend here so thank goodness for those excellent folk at Porsche HQ who at least let me drive the things.

Recently I experienced the superior off-road performance (here) of the Porsche Cayenne at the company’s facility on the perimeter of the Silverstone track after which we transferred to their custom built circuit, designed to emulate a genuine B road experience to try out the Porsche range.

The downside - if you can call it a downside - of such a treat is that the visiting journalists on this particular day didn’t get very long with each car - a few laps at best. Unfortunately this means there is no real opportunity to assess each vehicle in any meaningful way. Nevertheless, jumping from car to car and heading out onto the testing circuit was great fun and delivered the promised taster.

So, an overview then. The first thing to mention is the dreaded ‘kick-plate’. This is a computer-controlled hydraulic plate set flush to the soaking wet road surface and is designed to induce loss of rear wheel traction, putting the car into a skid or spin, as if on ice.

The instructor endeavours to describe the correct technique to ‘catch’ the slide and bring the car under control but the resulting efforts can sometimes be less than successful, leaving the car and helpless, grinning driver spinning across the surface like a drunken ballerina.

Drivewrite took every available car across this with, shall we charitably say, mixed results but I did discover one thing. During a drive in Porsche’s fantastic new and improved e-hybrid Panamera S almost total control was possible thanks to the fitted winter tyres. What a difference they made. Anyone pondering the value of buying this supplementary rubber for the dark months should seriously consider it. They work and work well.

The e-hybrid Panamera S, driven moderately, can travel around twenty miles on electric power alone before the engine need cut in. The batteries can be charged conventionally through either a domestic socket or a fast charger, or on the move using the petrol motor and the car's regenerative braking system. There is no issue with being too hard on the throttle and thus starting the engine because there's a very obvious resistance in the pedal travel that you have to push through to make that happen.

Driven carefully, Porsche believe the luxurious motor will manage up to 90mpg. Although lucky owners are unlikely to see that figure in normal use, consumption should be terrific for what is effectively a four-seater sports car. The most astonishing thing though is that even with 410bhp on tap drivers will not have to pay the London Surcharge or, at present rates, any road tax thanks to a tree-hugging CO²output of 71g/km. How long before the Chancellor latches on to that one?

As previously described, the Cayenne has immense ability off-road and is very likeable on the tarmac. To be honest DriveWrite found the car (two versions tried - a Turbo and a GTS) a bit disconnected from the road. The steering was overly light at low speeds. The normal and very comfortable set-up would be ideal for those long motorway jaunts but for drivers who want to crack on then they should reach for the sport mode. Problem solved.

And so I worked my way through the card. Everyone knows how good the Boxster/Cayman pairing are and the latest models have moved the bar even higher but the highlight for me was the Porsche Carrera 4S. Even on the twists and turns of the tricky circuit with its adverse cambers and one long, ever tightening corner the 4S felt totally planted. Even on this first drive I had instant confidence, allowing speedy progress - except on the ‘kick-plate where driver error led to an invigorating workout at the wheel.

In the automobile business cars have lately become so good generally that nit-picking is a popular pursuit in an effort to find weak spots. Even a Porsche acolyte like me could probably find the odd small thing to grumble about given an extended time with any of these cars, but it would be hard work. Porsche make superb cars that, perhaps only as used models, are not financially unattainable. Any of the models tested could happily be used as a daily driver but you don’t have to take my word for it. Get along to a Porsche Experience day and try them for yourself. In the meantime, maybe next Christmas...

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