New Straits Times - - VIEWPOINT - GOH THEAN HOWE cbt@nst.com.my

SIME Darby Auto Per­for­mance Sdn Bhd, the im­porter of Porsche ve­hi­cles in Malaysia, re­cently or­gan­ised its E-Per­for­mance Night event for 36 me­dia per­son­nel from all over the world to ex­pe­ri­ence a range of Porsche hy­brid mod­els.

We gath­ered at Four Sea­sons Ho­tel, Kuala Lumpur, for din­ner, be­fore be­ing chauf­feured to Sepang In­ter­na­tional Cir­cuit af­ter a down­pour.

The night started with us get­ting into a Porsche Panam­era 4 E-Hy­brid Sport Turismo and Malaysian Le Mans driver We­iron Tan taking us to the cir­cuit. The Panam­era 4 E-Hy­brid Sport Turismo is quiet and com­fort­able, Tan drove around town in “pure elec­tric” mode, and switched to “sports” mode while we were on the Maju Ex­press­way, head­ing to Putrajaya. In “pure elec­tric” mode, the car can travel up to 50km, with a max­i­mum speed of 135kph. It is like trav­el­ling in a quiet and pow­er­ful golf cart, with the lux­ury of the fully cov­ered cabin with air-con­di­tion­ing, full leather up­hol­stery, in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem and many more.

When the com­bus­tion engine kicks in, it un­leashes Porsche’s iconic engine sound and it gets no­tice­able when the sports ex­haust is ac­ti­vated.

Af­ter we ar­rived at Sepang In­ter­na­tional Cir­cuit’s South Pad­dock, we were given a sneak peak into the up­com­ing Porsche Tay­can, fol­lowed by a short brief­ing.

The Tay­can is a fully elec­tric car that is sched­uled to be launched in 2020. The elec­tric sedan will pro­duce more than 600hp and come with 800-volts charg­ing ca­pa­bil­ity. Range is ex­pected to be up to 400km, al­though Porsche claims an elec­tric range of 500km and a 0 to 100kph time of 3.5 sec­onds.

Our first ses­sion was a hot lap with Porsche’s chief in­struc­tor Matthias Hoff­sum­mer in the Porsche 918 Spy­der. The 918 is pow­ered by a nat­u­rally as­pi­rated 4.6-litre V8 engine, pro­duc­ing 600hp at 8,500rpm. It is hooked to two elec­tric mo­tors, which de­liver an ad­di­tional 282hp for a com­bined out­put of 875hp and 1,280Nm of torque. The mo­tor and engine de­liver power to the rear axle via a 7-speed dou­ble­clutch trans­mis­sion.

Porsche claims that the 918 Spy­der can com­plete the cen­tury sprint in 2.5 sec­onds, zero to 200kph in 7.2 sec­onds and zero to 300kph in 19.9 sec­onds. It has a top speed of 350kph.

Hoff­sum­mer drove the 918 Spy­der to per­fec­tion de­spite the damp track. It is one of the fastest and most ex­cit­ing sports car we ever ex­pe­ri­enced. The mo­ment Hoff­sum­mer stormed on the throt­tle, the 918 Spy­der takes off with the g-force pushed us hard into the seat.

The 918 Spy­der gripped tightly dur­ing high-speed cor­ner­ing, even with the wet track con­di­tion. It felt like the sports car was glued to the track sur­face, there were only two oc­ca­sions where Hoff­sum­mer needed to cor­rect the car dur­ing cor­ners, with­out break­ing a sweat.

We had three laps in the 918 Spy­der, the first was the warm up lap, then the hot lap, fol­lowed by the cool down lap. Dur­ing the cool down lap, Hoff­sum­mer switched into “Sport+” mode, for a quicker charge of the bat­ter­ies for the next pas­sen­ger. By main­tain­ing the engine at 5,000rpm, the bat­ter­ies man­aged to get up to 80 over per cent from around 50 per cent, driv­ing just a lap on the cir­cuit.

The sec­ond ses­sion was a high speed guided con­voy in the Panam­era Turbo S E-Hy­brid around the cir­cuit. Run­ning on a 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 engine and an elec­tric mo­tor, it is mated to the 8-speed dual clutch trans­mis­sion.

It is equipped with Porsche’s trac­tion man­age­ment, rear-axle steer­ing, ac­tive sus­pen­sion man­age­ment, dynamic chas­sis con­trol sport with torque vec­tor­ing plus and other fea­tures.

The Ger­man sports car­maker claims that it can sprint from stand­still to 100kph in 3.4 sec­onds and the top speed is rated at 310kph.

We were separated into two groups where each were given a car and eight laps (four as a driver) around the cir­cuit.

It felt like we were cruis­ing when we drove the Panam­era Turbo S EHy­brid around the cir­cuit at high speed. It de­liv­ers out­stand­ing com­fort and am­ple head­room, shoul­der room and leg room for the front oc­cu­pants. On the other hand, we felt it is slightly short of head­room for the rear oc­cu­pants if the per­son is taller than 183cm.

The Panam­era Turbo S E-Hy­brid can eas­ily reached above 240kph on the straight of the cir­cuit. It sits firmly and tightly on cor­ners at high speeds. The rear-axle steer­ing helped to keep the car in place dur­ing cor­ners.

Af­ter eight ex­cit­ing laps, we ended the night with a quiet slalom ses­sion, in a Porsche Cayenne E-Hy­brid. Some might won­der, why say quiet? It’s be­cause we did the slalom in “pure elec­tric” mode.

In “pure elec­tric” mode, there is no engine sound. We could hear only the tyres rolling off the ground when we pulled off from the start­ing line. Once again, the rear-axle steer­ing helped the Cayenne E-Hy­brid tackle the slalom with ease and re­duc­ing body­roll.

The Porsche E-Per­for­mance Night had given us a taste of Le Mans-style driv­ing and it showed the full po­ten­tial of the mar­que’s EHy­brid mod­els. Gut gemacht (well done) to Porsche and the team from Sime Darby Auto Per­for­mance.

A hot lap ses­sion with Porsche’s chief in­struc­tor Matthias Hoff­sum­mer in the 918 Spy­der.

High-speed guided con­voy in the Panam­era Turbo S E-Hy­brid.

The Porsche line-up for the Porsche E-Per­for­mance Night.

Me­dia were given a hot lap ses­sion in the 918 Spy­der.

On ‘full elec­tric’ mode, the Panam­era 4 E-Hy­brid Sport Turismo glides qui­etly through traf­fic.

The track was damp when we ar­rived.

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