Opening up Porsche’s fabulously rorty engine and letting its distinctive exhaust note engulf you is one of motoring’s most celebrated experiences, a journey into automotive nirvana… Well, that’s the theory anyway. Truth is, like teenagers and hairy pets, you often have to work hard to see the good in a Porsche.
First up there is the nose-bleeding price tag. You’ll get just £398 change from £100K for this 911 GTS – fill it up a couple of times and you’re there. Second, everyone hates you – even more than usual. In the week spent with this car (yellow and a soft top was fuel to the flame), you could be the victim of three cases of road rage (there was a fourth but that one was deserved). All involved liberal use of the words “twat” and “wanker”. Maybe Porsche should trademark them, as people seem to think that’s what the cars are called.
Then there’s the drive. In an ideal world we’d only travel on empty winding roads with challenging cambers and stunning views. But life’s not a driving game, sadly, and nose-to-tailing in the 911 is like giving your left calf an extreme work out – the clutch is sprung like a mantrap. On top of that there’s the ludicrous seven-speed gearbox with a gate so narrow you are forever jamming it into the wrong gear. Without the finessing effect of speed, the car feels cumbersome and a fatiguing drive.
But (and it’s a but that’s enraptured Porsche zealots for decades) when you do finally hit that open road, open up the roof and open up the rear-mounted flat-six… Well, oh my. It’s properly amazingly awesome.
This 911 was unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November and its cabriolet sister has now been rolled out to match the coupé. With the soft top up, both cars share the same legendary silhouette. The 3.8-litre engine is the 911’s defining characteristic and it pumps out 424bhp, does 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds and tops out at 188mph. The electric steering delivers superb feedback so you can feel your way in and out of corners with surgical precision. With the cabriolet you can drop the top and truly revel in the car’s performance. Everything about the car is quick: it only takes 13 seconds to open the roof and you can do it at up to 35mph.
The boot is pathetic, but there are two unexpectedly large rear seats for baggage – or people. I squeezed a 6ft friend, his dog and his injured son in there to drive them to hospital for an x-ray. The boy claimed he’d been “saved by Porsche” – a future sale in the bag for the German marque.