It’s been busy at the office recently. So much so that only I, crankandpiston’s newboy, was available for Porsche’s Regional 911 Carrera Media Launch. A superb way to celebrate my three week anniversary in the UAE, I’m sure you’ll agree.
However, some unforeseen administrative issues have rendered my driving licence out of action. I am, of course, gutted. Porsche’s first new 911 in eight years, and all I can do is spectate. Happily though, one quick call to Porsche’s dutiful PR team (on bended knee!) confirms that I AM allowed to participate in the following day’s track tests. My répondez s’il vous plait is quickly sent.
Two days later and I’m on the freeway, destination Abu Dhabi. In the driver’s seat next to me, EVO Middle East’s Phill Tromans has kindly offered me a lift. Forty-five minutes later, we arrive at Porsche’s Press GHQ for the weekend, the Yas Marina Circuit. A quick hello to our genial hosts and a couple of cucumber sandwiches later, we’re escorted across to the pit garages for our first look at the all-new 991 Carrera S.
Naturally, we’re bowled over. Yes, Porsche’s ‘design language’ is immediately recognisable. But new 20-inch wheels and tighter fenders – inspired by the muscles of a well-toned athlete – make the car more imposing than its older counterpart. Combined with a lower roof line and elongated headlights that meld more naturally into the bodywork, the Carrera S is a sight to behold.
Ogling done, we buddy up and choose our respective steeds from the multi-car fleet. Once again, the 911’s heritage is prominent on the inside, and the beautiful leather upholstery makes me feel underdressed. Fiery red seems appropriate for a car boasting 400bhp and capable of 302kph. It’s not too long before the sleepy paddock is awakened by six 3.4-litre boxers firing into life.
Our convoy is soon on the road. Sport mode activated, Phill plants his right foot. Wrenched backwards, my head is glued to the headrest as we climb through the gears. No lift, no lag. The first roundabout hoves into view. HARD braking snaps our heads forward again, and a tight turn in at high speed registers not even a hint of tyre squeal. Hugging the apex, we charge out the other side, sport seats gripping us tightly.
Climbing the gears again, we notice there’s a G-Force meter: a red flag to a bull. Our entry into the next roundabout is…ambitious, and at 0.7g the car hardly breaks sweat. My role as navigator (road map front and centre) is consigned to the backburner.
At 75km, we pull over to catch our breath. The air is alive with excited chatter and barely contained giggling: “how can this be better than the previous one?”, “pulls superbly in fifth, doesn’t it?”, “about 0.6g I think”. Our desert Porsche collection is attracting a lot of attention, the nearby traffic slowing dramatically to catch a glimpse.
Our second stint gets underway and after the warm-up, we’re keen to push ‘our’ 991 yet further. With notebook poised, seatbelt tightened and Porsche-monikered pen clipped on, we set off to find an ‘interesting’ route. My Dakar aspirations are interrupted by the water bottles shaking violently in front of me (0.8g, new record). My endeavours to remedy this only break the cup holders, and the bottles take up their new position rolling around the passenger footwell.
On the other side of the centre console, select mutterings concerning the multi-function gear selectors are becoming more audible. A couple of inadvertently timed rev limits later, and we’re singing the praises of a traditional paddle shift. Other than these minor issues – plus an inaccessible passport that has escaped my grasp and disappeared down the side of the passenger seat – we continue to enjoy the drive immensely.
Another 60km and we are back on the main road. For me, the sight of half a dozen Porsches swapping places as the sun slowly sinks around us perfectly showcases an exceptional day’s ‘work’. This new 911 can still corner like a demon and demonstrate its power in the most brutal fashion. But with nearly 150km covered, neither of us is feeling stiff or uncomfortable.
We pull up at our overnight spot knowing that today’s observations will soon be rendered moot. Tomorrow, the 991 Carrera S hits the track.