How do you top a day spent behind the wheel of a Porsche? Easy, by spending a day behind the wheel of every Porsche currently on sale!
That’s just what the Porsche World Roadshow offers, giving prospective Porsche buyers a chance to sample all of the brand’s offerings, the way they were meant to be driven.
And for one day out of a dozen, media schleps were invited to experience just what being wooed by the world’s most iconic sports car company is like. That’s how I wound up hitting 0-60 mph in three seconds in a 911 Turbo S, sliding sideways in the 2014 Cayman S and winding up on three wheels in a Cayenne… all in the span of just a few hours.
With loads of seat time, the Porsche World Roadshow explores the many capabilities of the Porsche brand, from the race track to off-road driving.
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My day began behind the wheel of a Boxster S, the most nimble of Porsche’s sports cars. Using a mid-engine layout and rear-wheel drive, combined with light weight it makes for a precision handling machine. And where better to test out the car’s capabilities than on an autocross course, dodging pylons in a chance for glory amongst my peers. A timed event with awards promised, I had to wait until later to discover my results… so I’ll pass on the anticipation to you.
From there my attention was drawn to the most powerful car in the brand’s lineup, the 530-hp 911 Turbo S which became the next whipping boy, abused repeatedly for an acceleration and braking test. Using the car’s tremendously powerful turbocharged engine and launch control the sound of the meaty rear tires fighting for traction easily overpowered the exhaust note. Hitting 60 mph in just around 3.0 seconds (or less according to some tests), it’ll stop from that speed in less time. In fact, during Porsche’s exercise, which includes an emergency lane chance maneuver under emergency braking, the runoff space proved twice as long as necessary.
CAN A CAYENNE REALLY GO OFF-ROAD?
Next I’m sitting comfortably watching a group of Porsches blast down the back straight at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. My vantage point comes from the driver’s seat of a Cayenne Turbo as I’m about to embark across some significantly rougher terrain.
There’s no need for the SUV’s 500 hp twin-turbo V8 engine here. Instead it’s time to click the switches into Off-Road Mode 3, effectively locking the center and rear differentials for maximum grip. And that quickly became necessary with wheels up in the air all over the place, first on the front axle and then on the rear, traversing huge mounds of dirt, scaling steep inclines and traversing down others that feel like descending the side of a right angle at times. During the excursion our off-road instructor demoed just how stiff the Cayenne’s chassis is, opening and closing the door while it’s flexed, delivering the same resounding thud.
Other highlights on the Cayenne include an impressive hill control descent, as well as a hill hold feature, meaning when someone else gets stuck on the path in front of you, you can just take your foot off the throttle and relax, or send a few text messages while you wait.
Emerging from the woods, it became obvious why you’d never do this with your own Cayenne – especially not a $110,000 Turbo S. The paint looked pretty scratched, though perhaps it was more the branches drawing lines in the dust and dirt being kicked up across the Cayenne’s side.
With a brake for lunch as luxurious as an Alcantara headliner, there was little time to waste before the highlight of the day. Track time was the next order of business, and even more than in any other exercise at the Porsche World Roadshow, here the car was the star.
2014 Porsche Cayman: Quick Spin
The event marked my first opportunity for seat time in the very new 2014 Cayman, with a chance to test out both the standard and S models.
Sharing its chassis with the Boxster its an undoubted track weapon, though this was not the right course for the standard model. With 275 hp and 213 lb-ft of torque those numbers are less that what you can get in a Honda Accord. Race tracks have the incredible ability to dull the sensation of speed and that’s exactly what happened here. When 100 mph feels just normal, the Cayman’s 5.3 second 0-60 time loses any drama it would have on the street.
Seated in the Cayman S, however, with an extra 50 hp and 60 lb-ft of torque and the package comes together perfectly at this high speed track. I’m also happy to report it’s just as enjoyable to drive as ever before and the superb balance makes correcting from a slide a mostly drama-free experience.
Of course, a selection of 911s was also provided for track testing and while the Cayman may have its merits, there’s nothing quite like driving THE Porsche. In each of the 911s, huge amounts of power came mated to a dual-clutch 7-speed PDK transmission (that one instructor quipped stands for Pretty Damn Kwick). Stick shifts still have their tactile advantages, but for going fast, smoothly, every time, the PDK is an engineering marvel.
Track time didn’t end with sports cars either. Porsche has increasingly become known as a four-door company, with the Cayenne SUV and Panamera sedan accounting for two-thirds of its sales in North American last year. Always ready to prove the brand’s sports car blood runs through the veins of all its models we hit the track again in these two less-obvious performance machines.
And while they might not look it, both the Panamera and Cayenne behave very much like sports cars – well, perhaps not the Cayenne Hybrid. In fact, they’ll surprise the heck out of anyone. The order in which my group shuffled through the many Porsches in one day did, however, bring to light how much heavier these machines are than their two-door siblings.
With big V8 engines, both the Panamera 4S and GTS swallow up the track’s staight-aways, while handling the corners with plenty of poise. The slightly more potent GTS (430 hp vs 400) makes the best partner, with maximized road-holding the result of a lower suspension and upgraded 20-inch wheels and tires. Plus it offers superb throttle response and an exceptional sound. All this in an incredibly luxurious cabin.
THE MOST VERSATILE MACHINE IN THE WORLD
As for the different Cayenne models provided, what really amazes about them is the feeling of stability and connection to the road. On most SUVs, even sporty ones, if you take them on a track you first have to overcome the high center of gravity feeling of lean in the corners. That’s not the case here.
That’s not to say there isn’t noticeable body roll, but the Cayenne is incredibly poised for a machine that can take your kids to soccer practice or even tow a boat. The Cayenne GTS seems like the perfect package for the track with a lowered suspension and it’s up-rated 4.8-liter V8 delivering 420 hp. Hop into the Turbo S, however, and it’s impossible not to be blown away by 550 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. Pressing down hard on the accelerator while leaving the pits I actually swore aloud in surprise at just how fast it is. Unfortunately it’s so torque-tastic that it essentially overpowers the rest of the package. The solution? A Cayenne Turbo GTS. Dear Porsche: Build it!
A FREE PORSCHE?
Designed to deliver a taste of what the ownership experience is like, Porsche makes it all the more tantalizing by showcasing just what its cars are really capable of, putting you in the passenger seat as its professional instructors drive wild hot laps around the track.
While I wasn’t a prospective buyer headed into the Porsche World Roadshow, I’m happy to report I am now the proud new owner of a 2014 Cayman S. It’s bright yellow and… 1:43 scale. Unfortunately, funds for a real one aren’t readily available, but my autocross time did land me this trophy, an appropriate reward for a day spent playing with toys.