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BP Was There: Porsche World Roadshow

BY Azfar Hashim

We went (a little) mental in the upgraded Sepang track with a bevy of Porsches

Photos courtesy of Porsche Malaysia

The Porsche World Roadshow (PWRS) is a professional driving event that has been held in more than 45 countries around the world. Attracting more than 42,000 potential customers and car enthusiasts to date, the PWRS provides an ideal platform at experiencing the sensation of driving the complete Porsche model range.

Under the guidance of professional Porsche certified instructors, participants are not only able to enjoy the thrill of driving a Porsche, but they also get the opportunity to enhance their driving skills.

Recently, Porsche hosted the Porsche World Roadshow 2016 at the Sepang International Circuit in Kuala Lumpur, with more than 280 participants from across Asia provided with a unique Porsche driving experience – us included. During this one-day programme, we put the array of Porsches through braking, slalom, vehicle handling exercises, and an off-road experience.

Also included here? The opportunity to do laps, using some of the latest Porsche models, around the recently upgraded Sepang track.

This has one of the widest displays of Porsche models, in one sitting, ever seen in a long time. From the signature 911 Carrera S, Carrera S Cabriolet, Carrera 4S, Carrera 4S Cabriolet, 911 Targa 4S, 911 Turbo and 911 Turbo S, to the recently launched 718 Boxster, 718 Boxster S and Cayman GTS, to barges like the Panamera GTS and Panamera Turbo S, even to larger than life Cayenne S, Cayenne GTS, Cayenne Turbo and Cayenne Turbo S down to the highly popular Macan and Macan S – all of them were present in Sepang.

The day began for me with the braking exercise in the new 991.2 911 Turbo S. On paper it simply meant accelerate, wait for the order, slam on the brake and then get the car to come to a stop. Yup, easy-peasy. To some, this whole exercise may come across as – for no better word – pointless. But what it really displayed, well to me personally, is how brutally this Smurf blue example rockets forward and how highly assuring the anchors equally are. Courtesy of a 3.8-litre, six-cylinder bi-turbo’d engine paired to a 7-speed PDK ‘box, the Turbo S needed only 2.9 seconds to go from zero to hero; top speed is rated at 330 km/h.

To give you an idea of how tenacious and gut-wrenchingly fast this thing goes in reality, here’s how: You stomp the right pedal, the car accelerates to what must be 1,000,000 km/h, you get shoved into the seat and try your best to hold on to the steering wheel, the instructor tells you to use whatever physical force you can gather to step hard on the brake, the Turbo S gets to a complete halt and along the same way, the seatbelt holds you tightly into your seat, preventing you from flying out the front windshield.

All that within less than 100 meters. Way more fun than taking the roller coaster…

Next exercise? A slalom exercise using the new 718 Boxster. The brief was simple: Drive this new Boxster around a series of cones, make a U-turn, go around the cones again, and then stop within the stipulated box. The trick here is to be smooth and consistent with the accelerator and steering wheel, while trying to clock the fastest time.

Now running a 2.0-litre turbocharged mill, the 718 Boxster sure felt sprightly and livelier than before; getting the right amount of power delivered with almost non-existent turbo lag definitely compliment the car’s agility and precision. This course was rather short, true, but being able to tell the marked difference – I mean, improvement - between it and its predecessor somewhat speaks volume. This 718 Boxster will definitely see high demands in Singapore.

Those two exercises aside, it was time to sample the range of 911, Panamera, Cayenne and Macan around the upgraded Sepang track. To be precise, these were the cars “served” to us: 718 Boxster S, 911 Carrera S, 911 Carrera S Cabriolet, 911 Carrera 4S, 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet, 911 Targa 4S, 911 Turbo, Panamera GTS, Panamera Turbo S, Cayenne Turbo and Macan S.

All the cars above displayed their different characters and merits on the track, something we cannot deny. However at the end of the track session, these were the cars that stood out for me, personally: Panamera GTS, 911 Carrera S and the 718 Boxster S.

Surprisingly despite its size (length: 5,049 mm, width: 1,937 mm, wheelbase: 2,950 mm, kerb weight: 1,995 kg), the Panamera GTS has the right amount of power that saw it keep up with the 911s. The 440 bhp is nicely useable, at the same time the V8 hums and throaty exhaust note adding more sensation to the drive. With a suspension system that has been tightened for better driveability (different state of tune than the Panamera Turbo S), this barge also felt very agile and able down every corner. However due to the size, its rear does feel a tad twitchy along turns 5, 7 and 13.

The 911 Carrera S feels right at home all the way. The chassis felt perfectly balanced and confident as you go flat out along sweeping turns 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12 and 13. Its 3.0-litre force-fed powerplant, mated to the 7-speed PDK, gives you access to 420 bhp and 500 Nm or torque: Exploiting its power - oh, and braking capability – is a real joy. Even the driving position deserves 5 out of 5 stars.

If you’re the sort, like me, who prefers having just one car to do it all – as a daily driver and weekend track machine – you don’t have to break the bank, and just settle for this particular variant.

It may look like just another marketing gimmick with more fanfare than anything else, but the 350 bhp 718 Boxster S (yes, specifilally the ‘S’) proved its calibre. Handling doesn’t deserve any sort of complaints, power delivery is linear with next to non-existent turbo lag and everything feels rightly placed around the driver. Power? Blistering. Exhaust note (despite the 4-potter)? Enough to impress.

My day ended off with a mini off-road ‘expedition’ using the Cayenne Turbo S – something sane human beings would not do. To cut it short – sorry Porsche, but this is unfortunately the most uninteresting bit – this luxurious SUV is capable off the tarmac as well, looking at how much engineering went into making it an all-rounder. Steep sandy surfaces, almost 90-degree descent – technically at the push of a button, the Cayenne would manoeuvre on its own.

Most importantly, the air-con worked brilliantly under 40-degrees Celcius weather…