THE SWEET SPOT

A 911 Car­rera S draws the line be­tween lust and love

Evo India - - PORSCHE 911 CARRERA S CABRIOLET -

IDON’T HAVE A SIN­GLE friend who grew up lust­ing af­ter a Porsche. Heck even I spent most of my child­hood lust­ing af­ter the Fer­raris and Lam­borgh­i­nis adorn­ing my bed­room walls. Back then we dreamt of some­thing flashy, loud and ex­otic. A 959 with a whale tail did make the oc­ca­sional ap­pear­ance but to our ado­les­cent minds, Porsches weren’t cars to lust af­ter; their doors didn’t scis­sor up into the sky, their lines weren’t sharp enough to cut your fin­gers on, their curves de­li­cious enough to give rise to the phrase car porn.

Now that I’ve driven many Porsches, I only want a Porsche. Noth­ing wrong with a Ferrari or Lam­borgh­ini, mind you, but a Porsche is some­thing you can drive as its maker in­tended, even on our roads. Over the past two years I have come to learn that a Porsche warms up to you, it doesn’t shock you but it charms you. A Porsche draws the line be­tween lust and love.

The first time I drove this white 911 Car­rera S con­vert­ible, it was a grave­yard shift. We drove out of Pune at about three in the morn­ing to catch the 911 on the out­skirts of Mum­bai, to max­imise ev­ery sin­gle hour we had with the car. It had rained the night be­fore and the high­way was damp in patches, wet in a few and dry on the other side of Lon­avala. In the first hour of driv­ing the 911, I got to ex­pe­ri­ence it over dif­fer­ent road con­di­tions and noth­ing made a dif­fer­ence to the con­fi­dence the 911 in­spired in me. I came back declar­ing the Car­rera S con­vert­ible

to be per­fect. It’s ev­ery­thing I would ever want in a sportscar; ev­ery­thing I’d ever want in a con­vert­ible (I’d like a louder ex­haust but that’s eas­ily fixed).

I reckon Porsche knows the en­thu­si­ast bet­ter than any car­maker in the world. There’s a pick for ev­ery­one in the range and even in the iconic 911 line-up you’ve got them all: from en­try-level 911s (en­try level!) to the Turbo and the GT track he­roes. The Car­rera S sits right in the mid­dle and gets the blend of per­for­mance, us­abil­ity and de­sir­abil­ity right to the T. This is all the car some­one who loves driv­ing will ever need; it’s for the en­thu­si­ast who wants to go places, who wants to clock more miles than just driv­ing to the 'Cof­fee and Cars' meet in the mid­dle of town; who wants the open road, the wind­ing road, the road less trav­elled, and the road at the end of the road. I’m not say­ing that it is go­ing to be easy in In­dia, but you can bet the `1.76 crore plus taxes this car costs, that you can take it to any place the A3 Cabrio will go, get back, have a cof­fee, and do the whole trip again. It is that us­able. It does not break your back!

You shift through the 911’s driv­ing modes and no­tice a seam­less­ness you won’t find in an M car or an AMG. There’s a sub­tlety to the change in drive set­tings (from com­fort to sport plus) I’ve come to love. Even the 7-speed dual-clutch PDK gear­box gives quick and pre­cise shifts with­out the vi­o­lent sledge­ham­mer gear changes you ex­pe­ri­ence in many other sportscars and su­per­cars. There’s a flu­id­ity to pro­ceed­ings that gets you into a rhythm while driv­ing a 911 that’s so sig­na­ture 911, it leaves a last­ing im­pres­sion. I like the rhythm of the 911 be­cause it en­cour­ages

I RECKON PORSCHE KNOWS AN EN­THU­SI­AST BET­TER THAN ANY OTHER CAR­MAKER IN THE WORLD

you to drive faster, fo­cus on po­si­tion­ing the car on a wind­ing road for quick ex­its out of corners, get the rear end to slip a lit­tle mid-cor­ner and wind on just a twitch of op­po­site lock, or just en­joy the solid bal­ance on a high­way run at speeds I’ve never done in any other con­vert­ible. The ride qual­ity is out­stand­ing for our badly paved high­ways. The 911 soaks in all the small ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties with so much com­po­sure that you tend to for­get that this car is still very ex­otic in In­dia, like cars that need to be treated with ex­tra cau­tion on our roads. The front axle lift raises the nose so there’s no graunch­ing over in­el­e­gant speed­break­ers and there is rear-wheel steer­ing to not just aid sta­bil­ity but also make it even more ma­noeu­vrable at pot­ter­ing speeds. Ev­ery­thing is so per­fectly en­gi­neered it could very well have be­come a soul­less ad­ver­tise­ment for Ger­man en­gi­neer­ing… yet… the 911 has soul. It gets un­der your skin. It in­spires you to work harder (or smarter, what­ever works for you) so that one day you might own one.

The new Car­rera S is tur­bocharged, and the tur­bocharger does kill the sweet sound of the flat six, but what it does in re­turn is pro­vide 500Nm of twist at just 1700rpm. You ride the wave of torque and when you are into the power band, 414bhp pulls you past its peak of 6500rpm, and stays at it till 7500rpm. A 7500rpm red­line from a tur­bocharged mo­tor is sim­ply su­perb, and there’s per­for­mance to be had all through the rev band. It is the most non-turbo-feel­ing turbo-mo­tor I’ve ever ex­pe­ri­enced. It isn’t peaky too, the flat-six just pulls and pulls, smoothly and re­lent­lessly, till you need an up­shift. And when you need it, the next cog is al­ready in. The PDK is re­ally the gold stan­dard for au­to­matic gear­boxes.

The rear-axle steer should soon make it to all sportscars in the fu­ture. It is quite a smart fea­ture. At slow speeds, it turns the rear wheels in the op­po­site di­rec­tion of the fronts to re­duce its turn­ing cir­cle and at high speeds all wheels turn in the same di­rec­tion (al­though not as much as the front wheels – that would be crazy!). As you go fast, you want a longer wheel­base for sta­bil­ity, and the 911’s in­creases vir­tu­ally by 500mm due to the rear axle steer­ing ac­cord­ing to Porsche. Ev­ery­thing about it works to­wards im­prov­ing bal­ance of the rear-en­gined car, a physics-de­fy­ing en­deav­our that has been go­ing on for decades, to en­sure 911s use the weight of the en­gine for bet­ter grip and not to slide back­wards into the hedges. So much work has gone into it, to make the 911 bet­ter and bet­ter with ev­ery up­date, it isn’t easy for other car­mak­ers to catch up and get on the same play­ing field. That’s the rea­son why Porsche walks away with the evo Car of the Year awards year af­ter year. When I fi­nally win the lot­tery it will be the 911 that I will splurge on, to go with wall­pa­per of the 356 Speed­ster that has just gone up on my lap­top. I seem to have grown up. Lust has made way for love.

Above: The 911 is the eas­i­est sportscar to drive fast and get bet­ter. Right: Rear en­gined lay­out gives the Porsche im­mense grip in corners

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