Test Drive: Porsche 911s
Ian Lamming gorges himself on a brace of Porsche 911s and finds one in particular really to be his taste
GIVEN the pick of the bunch it would be rude not to go straight for the ‘very best’, but life often isn’t as it seems.
Standing proudly before me is a glorious gaggle of Porsches, four 911s and three new Macans. At the head of the 911s, resplendent in shark blue, is the GT3, a car with legendary status, a model that can go for more money second hand than new, so rare and difficult to find is this amazing super car.
It’s the dream car, the poster boy/girl, top of everyone’s should-I-ever-win-the-lottery list. And why not? Look at it. Pure 911 with those timeless lines but a fraction of the weight thanks to aluminium and carbon fibre parts. The unique rear-mounted flat six motor is normally aspirated but has a larger bore of 4.0 litres. There’s 510hp lurking in that motor and that’s more enough to shoot you like a bullet to 62mph in 3.9 seconds and on to 199mph.
Drive is to the rear and inside it’s all thoroughbred sports car including peerless cockpit and vice-grip body hugging sports seats.
Start it up and it snarls at the world scaring driver and small children alike. Press the heavy clutch, slot the stiff gear lever into first and just pray that your left leg is strong enough to control pulling away; stalling would be so embarrassing at this point but so would spinning your wheels in the gravel. Fit its broad shoulder through the narrow stone gates of the hotel entrance and hit the road with anger. Oh yeah.
It’s incredible but it’s not easy. This thing is made for the track and the general lumpiness of today’s roads can be felt though the seats of your pants. It needs maximum concentration to get smooth changes from the beefed up six speed manual box and the front end, being light and well sprung, bobs up and down over undulations. GT3 is uncompromising on the road and its comfort zone is definitely going to be the track.
It’s time to slide down the pecking order with the 911 GTS, which is still a beast but much better suited to the normal roads.
GTS is no slouch. Its 3.0 flat six has the assistance of twin turbos so there is more than enough power and performance, with 480bp on tap, a 4.1 second sprint time to 62mph and a top speed of 193mph.
But everything seems to come so much easier; the seven speed manual is lighter to use, as is the clutch. Yes, I did say seven speed manual – now that is a first for me and it is weird going for the extra slot in the gate with seventh nestling next to fifth on the top step. The suspension has plenty of give in it and soaks up the bumps that the harder shocks on the GT3 tend to skip over, so it feels nicely planted and compliant, comfortable and controlled.
But, and there’s a big but coming, for me, the best, the most marvellous, the most stupendous compromise, which is no compromise at all, it’s just plain wonderful, is the Carrera 4 GTS. OMG what a car.
Totally, utterly and inexorably planted, which is vital for me as it offers complete and inspiring confidence, which means you can make more of its stunning performance.
It is all wheel drive which not only provides unbelievable amounts of grip front and back but also makes the Carrera 4 more balanced because there is a bit more weight up front to settle things down. It has such amazing poise and balance that it is pure joy to drive.
Now weight is normally a sports car’s biggest foe but somehow the Carrera 4 is even quicker to 62mph than the mighty GT3, by over half a second, if I have read the spec sheet right, and only seven miles per hour slower at the top end, probably because it can get the power down more effectively. Its twin turbo-charged 3.0 flat six churns out the same 480hp as its two wheel drive sibling. But on the road it feels so much more usable that, for me, it’s the much quicker car of the trio.
Now I did say that life is never as it seems but you would be right in thinking that spending the day driving 911s is always going to be a pretty good way to pass the time. In truth I would be happy with any, or perhaps, as my friend pointed out, have the GT3 for the track and Carrera 4 GTS for the road.
Porsche 911 GT3
Engine: 4.0 litre flat six
0-62mph: 3.9 secs
Top speed: 199mph
Transmission: six-speed manual
Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS
Engine: 3.0 litre flat six with twin turbos
0-62mph: 3.3 secs
Top speed: 192mph
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, AWD
Porsche 911 Carrera GTS
Engine: 3.0 litre with twin turbos
0-62mph: 4.1 secs
Top speed: 193mph
Transmission: seven-speed manual