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Comparing the 992 Carrera S Against a Rawer Rival

While its undoubtedly true the latest iterations of the Carrera have softened their image, expanded their midsection, and grown more commercially appealing, they still retain a level of performance that wows the enthusiast. Especially when considering the gains brought by modern turbocharging and PDK gearboxes, there’s not much the typical user is left wanting for—at least in terms of straightline speed.

However, at what price do the electric steering, heavier transmissions, forced induction come? To get a better sense of the tactile, visceral losses caused by modern technology, Henry Catchpole staged the 992 Carrera S against another European 2+2 with comparable power, price, and weight.

Its rawer rival is the Lotus Evora GT410 Sport, and simply by posing the two cars beside one another, we see how their designs speak volumes. In comparison, the Evora looks like a child’s plaything, whereas the Carrera S is a subdued, sophisticated sports cruiser. Perhaps it’s just the shade of Smurf blue adorning the Lotus’ hide which causes that perception, but the dated interior doesn’t help that view much.

Looks aside, what we’re truly concerned with is that elusive trait of connection. With that occasionally irritating but always informative feedback through the wheel, the Evora’s steering feel bests the subdued and smoothened electric steering in the 992. There’s simply more information coming from the front axle.

Additionally, the V6’s bark barges into the Evora’s cabin in a way that the Porsche’s softer note sneaks into its cabin. Though musical, the Porsche’s muffled exhaust note fails to give it the same sense of occasion.

The 450-pound difference between the two makes the Lotus a much more wieldy car on narrow country roads; there’s no escaping weight. It’s clear that liveliness seems to come with some setbacks, especially in this price range. That’s quite interesting considering both cars, at 73″, are equally wide—and that the Evora has a longer wheelbase. There really is no escaping heft.

Though as quick, it lacks the some level of involvement that makes its blue rival so appealing.

While the plush Porsche is a better car for most, and is by no means a Panamera in athletic garb, it has undoubtedly lost something. The pared-down, straightforward, honest car that made its predecessors such involving cars is still very much alive in the Evora. The tinny, shed-built brawlers like the Lotus are such stimulating driver’s cars largely because their focus is on connection, and not mass consumer appeal. While the Porsche might be as fast if not faster over a stretch of country road, the Evora is the one that will leave its user buzzing.

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Speedster generations

“I took a 911 Cabriolet off the line and drove it to my hot-rod shop,” admits Preuninger. That car became a mix-up of Gen1 GT3 and that Cabriolet.

The result of the GT boss’ work was first shown to a select group of customers as far back as 2014 alongside the 911 R concept, which the Speedster shares a lot of DNA with. This new Speedster is a GT department model, a car which, if you take Speedsters at their most elemental, it always should have been. 

Even so, Preuninger admits: “We didn’t focus on every last gram and we’re not concerned about lap times.” While that might be true, a kerbweight of 1,465kg is just 52kg more than a manual GT3.

The Speedster, like the R, is exclusively manual, with no PDK being offered, saving 17kg in weight and pleasing the driving purists among us. There are the same 911 R carbon-fibre front wings, the underbody at the rear being R-derived, while PCCB is standard too.

Those early customers who saw it liked the idea of a properly raw Speedster, doing without any roof, but Preuninger and his team denied them that, fitting a hood, in part to ensure that owners actually use them rather than park them away with delivery miles in collections. And the 1,948 Porsche will build? That’s the year when the first Speedster was built. 

Opening the low, neat roof is simple enough – a button unlatches the hood at the top of the lower windscreen and unclips the buttresses which then spring up from the large clamshell. The clamshell lock is released too, and the huge carbon-fibre panel – the largest Porsche has ever made, and weighing just 10kg – lifts out and back on struts, the hood simply pushed into its stowage area underneath.

Pop down the cover and the Speedster is open, as it should be, the slightly steeper rake and lowering of the screen, as well as that rear, fundamentally changing the look of the 911. It’s very reminiscent of original 356 Speedsters, losing the sometimes-uncomfortable, heavy-looking rear of later 911 Speedster models. There’s also a hint of Carrera GT in its proportions, particularly that rear three-quarter view.

The black stone guards on the flanks fore of the rear wheels were a late – and necessary – addition, admits Preuninger, breaking the visual length while harking back to the G-series models.

You don’t have to have them, and if you’re after an even more retro style then there’s the Heritage Pack plus a numbered, customised Porsche Design timepiece, as is the norm these days.

Forget those, though. Preuninger leans in, says to press Auto Blip and the exhaust button and go and drive it. I argue I’ll do the footwork myself and leave the Auto Blip off, Preuninger laughing and saying: “It’s better than you,” before adding, “and me…”

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RUF CTR Anniversary driven

“The Yellowbird is a car that made us internationally renowned from one day to another. We were the world’s fastest car – all the big companies were slower. No matter if it was 20 years ago, ten years ago or just yesterday, everybody talks about this car.” These are the words of Marcel Ruf, who talks with passion and pride when I ask him to describe what the RUF CTR of 1987 did for his father’s company.

It was that 3.2 Carrera-based ‘Yellowbird’ which put RUF Automobile on the map. A real-life David versus Goliath moment, it was faster than Ferrari’s F40 and Porsche’s 959, inspiring an entire generation of automotive fanatic. Those three letters responsible for building it became an alluring brand synonymous with engineering precision and purity henceforth.

We’re here on Rufplatz to celebrate 80 years of a company which has been integral to the culture surrounding the 911, a sports car we all – RUF included – admire greatly. RUF has always found a way to improve on Porsche’s recipe, consistently evolving the 911 years ahead of Zuffenhausen.

It led to RUF becoming a certified manufacturer in its own right by the German authorities in 1981, and since then we’ve been on the road to this very moment, a dream Alois Ruf Jr has harvested for decades: to build a complete sports car from scratch. That car is the new RUF CTR.

Revealed in 2017 – 30 years since the original – the latest CTR has undergone further testing, tweaks and even a name change. The CTR Anniversary, as it is now known, is at last approaching the finished article, and is a fitting way for this family-run business to celebrate its 80th birthday.

Putting the festivities to one side, this new CTR is arguably the most important RUF creation in years. Times have changed, and now there’s much stiffer competition for ultra high-end, Porsche-inspired craftwork, most notably from a well-known company some 5,000-miles away in north Hollywood.

Looking more inwardly too, the fact this is the first RUF to be built completely from scratch carries a significant cost. Company sources tell me it could be between €12 to 15 million to develop the CTR, all of the investment coming directly from RUF itself. It’s a statement of confidence to say the least, the carbon fibre monocoque at its centre forming, we are told, the basis of RUF cars of the future as well as now.

On paper the CTR Anniversary’s credentials (we’ll come to those later) have well and truly resonated with the uber wealthy, so much so that all 30 cars of the initial build run were sold within a week. I say initial build run, as off-the-bat demand for the CTR Anniversary caught out not only RUF itself, but owners of the first CTR, too, who simply didn’t react quick enough to bag the latest example.

“We felt it was important that those owners of the original CTR were given the opportunity to have an Anniversary, so we spoke with the 30 buyers of the new car and asked how they felt about us increasing production to 50 cars to solve the problem. Thankfully they gave their blessing, so we were able to offer the extra 20 spaces only to those who had a CTR1,” Marcel Ruf explains. A potential sticking point dealt with efficiently and calmly – how typically German.

Production of the CTR Anniversary is set to run until 2022 (by which time the company will also have started building its new, naturally aspirated SCR) with deliveries beginning later this year. A handful are very near to completion, these being assembled by hand on the factory floor during our visit. However, sitting outside and resplendent in the house colour of yellow, there’s an example ready for the road – and we’re going to be driving it.

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930 v 964 v 993: air-cooled Turbos

This is the story of an action hero: one who starts as a trigger-happy maverick, becomes all-powerful, then ends up going straight. Well, that’s the Hollywood version at least.

The truth about the air-cooled 911 Turbo – from 930 to 964 and 993 – is harder to sum up in a sound bite. So dim the lights, grab some popcorn and settle in for a saga of sequels without equal.

Posing outside the Paul Stephens showroom in Essex, our Turbo trilogy makes for a great movie poster. They’re The Expendables in four-wheeled form: brimful of testosterone and bulging in all the right places.

The 964 Turbo 3.6 has the most visual clout, crouched like a coiled spring on dished Speedline split-rims. It’s one of the most aesthetically aggressive 911s, on par with the 993 GT2 and 991.2 GT2 RS.

The 930 isn’t far behind, its fulsome hips and signature spoiler immortalised on a million bedroom walls. And the 993 Turbo is equally iconic, albeit smoother and more urbane.

The 964, built in 3.6-litre guise for the final year of production only, is also our A-lister in terms of price. At the time of writing it was offered at £224,995 – enough to buy both the 930 and 993.

Is it the big-budget blockbuster those looks suggest, or does the sweet-spot of this air-cooled 911 line-up lie elsewhere? I’m childishly excited to find out.

I start with the 930. ‘The Widowmaker’ shares its epithet with a movie about a nuclear submarine, and its presence feels equally forbidding. However, it could have been much wilder.

Inspired by the on-track success of the turbocharged 917/30, the prototype 930 was a back-to-basics road racer – effectively a Carrera 3.0 RS with forced induction – and just 200 cars were planned. Porsche’s sales and marketing department had other ideas, though, envisioning the 911 Turbo as a luxurious super-GT.

In the end profit triumphed over purity, and the Turbo debuted in 1975 with air conditioning, electric windows, a rear wiper and a four-speaker stereo. Climbing aboard, this flagship 1987 911 still feels well-appointed today.

There’s supple leather, deep-pile carpet and even heated seats. Only the boost gauge, nestled within the rev counter, offers a clue to its added oomph. Well, that and the four ratios etched atop the gear lever – the SC had switched to five-speed back in 1978.

The original 3.0-litre 930 served up 260hp: a modest 63hp more than a contemporary Carrera 3.0, and Golf GTI power today. Even so, edgy handling and all-or-nothing power delivery made it a challenging steer.

Le Mans-winning Porsche racer Tony Dron said: “Frankly, it demanded too much skill, even from an experienced driver, and that made serious driving hard work… I was far from convinced that selling them to the public was a good idea.” An upgrade to 3.3-litres and 300hp in 1978 also included beefier 917 brakes and a more stable chassis. This had “better handling, but was still something of a monster when driven really fast”, noted Dron.

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What Is The New 911 Speedster Like To Drive On The Road?

A few years ago, we discussed the idea of a GT3 Cabriolet (below). Some of us thought it was a great idea, and others not so much. It took almost five years, but Porsche finally built something that is basically the 991 GT3 Cabriolet that we asked for, but better. Consider the 991.2 Speedster a send off for the chassis. This is among the last cars to be produced on this chassis that was introduced in 2012, and in my opinion that very few asked for, possibly the best of the breed. Porsche perfected the closed-roof GT3 concept with the GT3 Touring. Cut the roof off, strip the body of some extra weight, and slam a shortened windshield on there for good measure, and you’ve got the Speedster.

17 Year Old Kid Designs The GT3 Cabriolet Porsche Really Needs To Build

It still has GT3 suspension bits and that mega 500 horsepower naturally aspirated flat six at the back, only now it has a fiddly manually-operated drop top similar to that found in the 981 Boxster Spyder. Don’t worry about the Speedster’s top, however, it’ll usually be stowed away. The Speedster is meant to be driven with the top down.

Porsche had considered selling this car with no roof at all. While that would have been incredibly ballsy, and would have dropped the car’s mass by a not-insignificant amount, it feels right to have a manual roof to continue the Speedster’s lineage as a pure track-capable road car that can be driven across the country. Lets be honest, if you had purchased a 356 from Hoffman in the 1950s, you would have wanted a roof for your 3500 mile drive home to Southern California, right?

Now, Henry Catchpole has driven every iteration of Porsche GT since the 991 series was unveiled (while I myself have not yet driven the GT2 RS). That makes him perfectly qualified to discuss the merits of the Speedster as a package. In the video below for Carfection, Catchpole will touch on just about everything you’d need to know about the Speedster’s ability to perform. Considering it came from the GT car department, it was bound to be good, but how good?

Don’t bother putting the top up. Get in. Push the Sport Exhaust button. Slam the manual gear lever into 1st. Never look back.

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