Porsche World Roadshow
For the 2019 Porsche World Roadshow, Porsche invited us to the Buddh International Circuit to drive 13 Porsches
Imagine a day when you are on a race track with a range of sports cars, it's not that hard to imagine when it's Porsche World Roadshow, an event specially held for Porsche enthusiasts and owners to witness a range of cars from Stuttgart. Now I have to admit that I had a ball of a time, driving 13 cars but then the time with each was quite limited and thus this article will just give you a glimpse of my experience.
The day started early, we were at the Buddh International Circuit (India's only F1 track) at 8:30 AM and post-registration (signing forms which make you the owner of the car in case you turn off traction control, you obviously have to purchase the car, there is no free lunch!) and a quick breakfast, the launch of the new 911 was conducted. We were then briefed about the drive, not only were the instructors flown in for this event, even the cars were, a.k.a. 26 of them and they were left-hand drives.
The Cayenne felt as much at home on the track as it did on the off-road course
Before we started, we were briefed about the dos and don'ts. It was followed by a quick guide on how to correctly adjust the seat for the track. The demonstration on the wrong settings was also given with Indian driving style highlighted for excessive honking! We were divided into four batches with my batch heading first for some off-roading.
With the Porsche Cayenne, we did a few activities on an off-road section which clearly demonstrated that looks can be deceptive. In spite of the sporty design and low profile 21-inch wheels, the Cayenne glided over the worst that the off-road course had to offer. Right from ascents to descent and sideway obstacles, the Cayenne didn't battle an eyelid, even when a wheel was in the air, it just went ahead smoothly.
While it looked like easy work on the outside, on the inside, it was almost autonomous as the electronics would take care of most of the things, all you needed to do was steer, accelerate occasionally and use the brakes even less frequently. The hill hold function ensured no roll back when we left all the pedals and were facing the sky while even on the least grippy part of the course, the wheels simply refused to spin even with hard throttle as the rock mode in the off-road setting of the drive mode ensured a smooth journey.
Back to the track, our next exercise was the most fun and the one I was looking for the most - the sports cars. We got to drive 5 cars, back to back, for a lap (not a complete lap but a lap none the less, minus the start-finish run). The first car I had a go in was the 718 Boxster GTS, powered by a 2.5-litre, 4-cylinder engine, belting out 365 HP, enough for a top speed of 290 km/hr. With a weight of just 1375 kgs, the Boxster felt light on its feet and changed directions with aplomb.
However, the Boxster was more of a warm-up, it was the first lap out and our instructor was taking it easy and naturally we too had to do the same since we weren't allowed to overtake. All the cars I drove, they were in Sport+ with active exhausts turned on and PSM (traction control) active. Some of the cars, I did try manual mode but that felt pointless as the PDK gearbox is much faster in shifts than I could ever be.
Turbo 6 coupled with finely judged chassis makes the 911 one of the best driver’s cars
So I jumped into the Porsche 911 Carrera S (the 992 which was launched just 2 hours back). While the exterior design is an evolution (like is always the case), the interior felt remarkably fresh. As I got out of the pit-lane, I buried my right foot, only to be pushed back into the comfortable and sporty seat, the thing just flew, taking just 3.7 seconds to do the ton (or 3.5 seconds with the Sports Chrono package). The heart of the new 911 is the 3.0-litre flat 6 motor which belts out 450 horses and 530 Nm of torque.
Where the new 911 Carrera S really shines though is around the corners with terrific feel and feedback from both the steering as well as the chassis, it just dives into corners with a level of confidence and grip that would make you feel like an F1 driver. Could it get any better? The answer came in the form of the Carrera 4S and I was spellbound by the level of grip on offer. There was no roll, no pitching, none of that, just pure body control and laser-guided accuracy around the twisties.
The 911's weight balance is stellar, it just changes direction immediately and remains composed throughout. The optional carbon ceramic brakes are almost fade-free offering superb stopping power. The suspension did not feel overly stiff on the smooth race track but on the Indian roads, I suspect, the occupants may feel the jerk. Apart from the 911, I also drove the 718 Cayman and was in for a shock!
The Cayman GTS felt almost there with the 911 in terms of handling precision and driving fun. Of course it's down on power and electronics when compared to the 911 but still felt such a hoot to drive around the 5.14 kms circuit! The first half of the day was done, it was time for lunch, following which we would head to the start-finish for a couple of more interesting activities.
The first one was testing the launch control on the old 911, followed by a braking test. We did two runs (one with and one without launch control) to better understand the difference between both. The Porsche World Roadshow was an 8-day event in India and the same car did close to 600+ launch control launches, most cars would burn their clutch with such abuse!
The Boxster and Cayman impressed us a lot with their near-perfect 911-rivalling dynamic capabilities
Then we shifted to the old Porsche Boxster for a slalom time challenge. The first run was a sighting lap to understand the course and the next 2 were timed. The car was super agile and felt like on rails as we gunned it around 150 metres through slaloms and u-turned to get back and do the same slaloms again, only standing on the brakes to stop in the box.
The last section was driving the 4-door Porsche cars. I started in the Macan which is the facelifted model that will be launched in India later this year. Known as the Macan II, I got into the S variant which employs a 3.0-litre in-line 6-cylinder engine, generating 354 horses and a top speed of 254 km/hr. Weighing 1990 kgs, the Macan is a heavy car for a track but didn't feel that way as there was a good amount of grunt from the motor, controlled body roll and an accurate steering to boot.
I then jumped straight to another Macan, this one with the smallest engine in a Porsche car currently. Using a 2.0-litre TFSI motor with 254 horses on board, the small engined Macan actually felt a lot more fun than its bigger sibling because a) it's lighter and b) I could keep it on the boil throughout the lap as it was the least powerful car on the track. The cones places mid-straight on the long 1.3 km straight of the BIC needed us to brake and manoeuvre, not in the entry-level engined Macan, I just went flat out, it felt good.
Now it was time for the Porsche Panamera and I jumped into the 4S model first. This being powered by a 3.0-litre engine that produces 440 HP, felt quick right off the line. As I exited the pit lane and whacked open the throttle, I was greeted by an immediate response and a throaty exhaust note to match. As I came to a corner, I was puzzled. Was this actually a 4-door, 1900 kgs car? It didn't feel that way. With a top speed of 286 km/hr, the Panamera is an apt car for crunching miles. But could it get any better on the track?
Yes, it could because the next drive was in the Panamera Turbo which benefits from a bigger 4.0-litre V8 engine that pumps out 550 HP, cracking 300 km/hr as the top whack while being quick to reach there, thanks to the stupendous acceleration and excellent cornering control offered by the communicative chassis. If I hadn't driven the sports cars earlier in the day, I would simply not been able to believe that the Panamera Turbo is a 4-door car weighing more than TWO TONNES!
The Porsche Panamera is one of the best GTs around that offers a fantastic blend of comfort, style and performance
And talking about weight, the heaviest car was saved for the last or that was how it ended the day for me with the Cayenne PHEV or the E-Hybrid. The 3.0-litre gasoline mill makes 340 HP while the electric motors add up to a combined output of 460 horses and 700 Nm! Top speed is 253 km/hr, you won't reach there as the heavy Cayenne felt a bit of a handful around the fast sweeping corners of the circuit. Taking it easy is the best on this car whose weight has soared due to the battery and its tech. But the hybrid system is seamless and this is the future as Porsche has said goodbye to diesels!
Driving done and it was about time to leave but Porsche likes to bid its guests in style (read sideways). We got a hot lap with the instructor belting the car with traction control turned off, driving around the corners, it was both hilarious and fast, the former because I was on a taxi ride in the 911 Carrera 4S and even with the front axle being supplied power, the Porsche instructor made mincemeat out of drifting.
The Porsche World Roadshow concluded with happy faces all around, the instructors were happy as we all did a great job while we were happy as we got to experience the best of the Porsche world in under 6 hours. With 26 cars brought in, we drove 13 of them (others were backups or multiple units of the same car while the instructors drove a faster car, the GT3). In all, a great effort by Porsche to make people drive and feel their staggeringly fun and well-engineered cars. Danke, Porsche, Danke!
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