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Last updated on July 2nd, 2017 at 12:41 pm
Get lucky in this journalism caper and you can easily enjoy a millionaire lifestyle – without the needless complication of massive personal wealth! For example, this week Daily Telegraph exec Drew Gibson dropped by my place to (briefly) hand over a Porsche Turbo Cabriolet he’d liberated from our paper’s road-test fleet:
These things retail here for around $350,000. Property values went up in my street just because it was parked there. Cost to insure? Probably more than the accumulated purchase price of all the cars I’ve ever owned.
A brief tasering and the keys were mine. First impression: seats are hard. Snug and supportive, but way solid. Also, when you aim your right foot at where the brake pedal should be, you hit the accelerator. The pedals – possibly because of an intrusive front differential (the Cabrio is all-wheel-drive) or possibly by design – are offset towards the driveline. Curious.
Doesn’t stop this complex device being absurdly simple to drive in slow traffic. Controls are as light as any you’d find in a sissy hatchback. The only hint of potential awesomeness is in the engine’s growly tone, menacing even at low revs. Hearing it, anyone who spent time at race tracks in the late 70s/early 80s would recall the vomp-vomp-vomp pitlane note of Porsche’s raw and violent 934 – a production-based racer that generated around 485 horsepower and treated timid or inexpert drivers cruelly.
A few decades on, the easy-rolling Cabrio pumps out 480 horses – and beats the 934 for torque and top speed. Plus it has electric/computerised everything (seats, windows, roof, traction) where the 934 required forceful manual control by people capable of biting through steel billets.
Drew is a terrific driver and very familiar with race-level cars, but is an anxious passenger, a condition I may not have improved. For the driver, though, this car is so overwhelmingly able that what should be scary-fast just … isn’t. I’ve never driven anything that accelerates so rapidly. Scary? It was positively soothing.
Beyond certain speeds, those little quirks – rigid seats, weird pedal placement – begin to make sense. You need a serious bunch of lateral and fore-aft bracing, and the offset pedals are positioned perfectly for heel-toe downchanges (only logical; the angle of your right foot is reduced). Steering weights up beautifully. Gearshifts are practically subconscious. Brakes will dislodge eyeballs.
Only a couple of decades ago you needed a huge amount of money and sublime driving skills to get around quickly in a fast Porsche. Now all you need is the money. Or just get yourself on the gold-level Gibson friend list …