Porsche KL Road Trip
The phone rings. It's Brian. "Want to drive a Porsche from KL to Singapore?" I play hard to get, nonchalant. "OK, how about three Porsches then?" he says. I cave in.
Long story short - I end up at the Porsche showroom in KL, looking to choose between the blue Cayman GTS, the metal-black 911 Turbo, and the silver 911 Carrera GTS soft-top. It's a difficult choice.
From the top: Turbo - 3.8-litre flat-six twin turbo, 520bhp, 100 kph in 3.2 seconds. Carrera - 3.8-litre flat-six, 420bhp, 100 kph in 4.3 seconds. Cayman - 3.4-litre flat-six, 340bhp, 100 kph in 4.6 seconds. I go for the Cayman because I like blue.
Porsche GM Henrik leads the way out into the traffic and his sidekick Max follows behind me.
What impresses most about the Cayman is its civilised drive. The fact that it is a mid-engined flat six bonkers sports coupe is not evident. The controls are all oh so easy, the dials are ultra clear and although the shift knob comes with tempting Sport and Sport Plus settings and a rorty exhaust setting as well, pulling out into the traffic is a doddle.
Good visibility, tractable response, precise directional control and smooth but powerful brakes. It's as easy to drive as a supermarket car. Which is a good thing as early afternoon KL traffic is a challenge. Roadworks, diversions, indicator and brakelight-less vehicles, boy racers eyeing the Porsche and lane discipline verging on the scientifically randomised all bring interest. Admitted, when the road clears the Cayman delivers with a solid punch and noise, but it never felt edgy. A superb car for the first time Porscher.
We stop at a petrol station to top up, swap seats and stretch our legs - although the Cayman is comfortable enough for this not to be a necessity. I am in the 911 Turbo, and the difference couldn't be more obvious. This isn't a supermarket car - it's a rocket. Heft the pedal and the seven-speed gearbox kicks the turbocharged flat-six's 520bhp so hard you can feel the tarmac rippling under the 20-inch rubber. It steers like a racer too; much more direct feeling than the Cayman, with superb feedback. This means you have to drive it 100% of the time though; no gazing at the countryside as you flash by. Smoke-emitting trucks labouring in the middle lane (why do they always drive there and not in the inside lane?) are dispatched to a dot in the rear view mirrors. The active suspension is firmer than the Cayman, something that the North-South Highway seems to reinforce with its bumps and ripples. The Turbo is an expensive car, but its 4WD, 4 wheel steering, its power and that Turbo badge make it worth it for the committed thrillseeker.
The last stop sees me jump into the 911 Carrera GTS Cabrio. Some reviewers wrote it off as a medium-flavoured car, one that isn't low end accessible, nor top end pure-performance based, something of a middle or nothing design. But for me this car has it all.
The timeless 911 shape, the drop top that can work its magic on the move, comfort and style, a beautiful rear-engined roar and oh-so-civilised drive. Just slotting into the deep and ultimately-adjustable seat and fingering the paddle gear changes made me feel like Fangio (a 5-time Formula 1 World Champion if you didn't already know).
It's not so bad boy as the Turbo with (only) 430 bhp but it nonetheless offers a 7-speed gearbox, limited slip differential, active suspension and the most delicious noise of any of the cars when you floor it. Porsche claims it "feels at home wherever it is—on city roads, on winding mountainous passes, or on a racetrack." They are not wrong. It is a delight to drive, fast, slow, round the bends and posing down Orchard Road.
Cars are for more than just transport, and the Carrera GTS does its job perfectly. It's not exactly a giveaway at a touch under $630,000, but it has what many other muscle and luxury cars dream of. It has class.
The final nods of approval comes from unlikely sources. The boy racer in the Other German Car that tried vainly to keep up every time we overtook anything on the final leg of our trip manages to swerve past as the traffic coagulates near Tuas. We next see him sideways with a bent bonnet buried in another vehicle on the bridge. Going fast is about control - and the Porsche wins.
The other nod comes from the guys in the oily Malaysian truck as I finally filter through customs. The top is down, the stereo is on, the Porsche sounds like a Bon Jovi soundtrack. They wind their windows down and give me a great big thumbs up.
Credits: Story and Photos by Jeremy Torr